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Zappos' New Secret Weapon: Personal Shopping

With the Ask Zappos service, the retailer could redefine online shopping all over again.
The Zappos office in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Fanatical customer service has always been a way of life at Zappos. Now the brand is taking it one step further. 

CNET reports the online retailer, which is owned by Amazon, is testing a new personal shopping assistant that takes requests via image and works to track down any item, even if Zappos doesn't carry it. The service is called Ask Zappos and the company has been testing it since June. 

Customers can send images to an Ask Zappos personal shopper a number of different ways--from posting a picture to Instagram (with the hashtag #AskZappos) to attaching it to a text message. The Zappos shopper then uses the image to look up the product and deliver a set of shopping links. 

"Close enough isn't good enough," Zappos Labs director Will Young told CNET, so Zappos uses image recognition technology to help the stylists find perfect product matches. And Zappos has trained the stylists in the art of spotting brands and products at a glance. So far, they've been delivering responses on the same day they're requested. 

The point for Zappos, says Young, is not just to "wow the customer," but to personalize the shopping experience. To that end, Zappos Labs currently has other projects in the works, "including a recommendation engine that produces results based on Pinterest pins, and personal style recommendations based on Instagram posts," reports CNET. 

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Last updated: Jul 28, 2014

JILL KRASNY | Staff Writer

Jill Krasny is a staff writer for Inc. magazine, where she covers the intersection of entertainment and startups. Prior to Inc., she was a writer for MTV and Esquire and an editor at TheStreet. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California with a degree in communication. She lives in New York City.

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