In 2014, Tonya Richardson called Zappos customer service because she had received the wrong pair of shoes. Growing increasingly frustrated, Tonya was told that the shoes she ordered were out of stock with no similar options to choose from.
The shoes she ordered were adult-sized easy on/off shoes for her autistic grandson, Gabriel. Gabriel was unable to tie his shoes and because he was getting older, she was running out of options for youthful-looking sneakers that could be slipped on and off. Their options were very limited to find shoes that fit and were functional.
Zappos took action. They identified the struggle faced by those in the adaptive community, who often had to choose between limited options only to sacrifice either fashion or function. They launched their adaptive line in the summer of 2020, providing footwear designed for both children and adults. Targeted customers for Zappos Adaptive have limited mobility, use prosthetics, or suffer from another type of disability that prevents them from wearing mainstream footwear.
Good business decisions like Zappos Adaptive should be applauded. The catalyst of change came from a customer request and an employee who identified a need. The customers and employees spoke up, and Zappos management listened. With demand growing for clothing options for those with disabilities, this is a win-win for Zappos. They are helping a large group of people around the globe simply because they responded to a need.
The global market for adaptive clothing is estimated to be a $400 billion industry by 2026 with similar costs to creating extended clothing sizes for existing wear. Studies show that the compound annual growth rate of the industry is estimated at 4% from 2018-2024.
If you have a 401(k), IRA or own mutual funds, it is important to pay attention to what companies are doing and why. In the world of cancel culture and businesses making reactionary decisions based on uproar from activist bullying, it should be celebrated when a business takes initiative and makes a good business decision simply because they discovered a gap and filled it.
As a shareholder, staying informed on positive initiatives like Zappos Adaptive is a small price to pay for the future success of your share value. Their new line will help those in the adaptive community, increase revenue and, in the end, satisfy their shareholders.