The interactive campaign, which includes rich media banners, traditional banners and blog ads, grew out of research on the depth of shoe shoppers' obsessions. "As we went further and further into people's passion about shoes, and how these purchases are of primary importance to them, we realized you just couldn't go too far," he says. The 30-second video, for example, features a woman changing her shoes multiple times on her way to work, switching from galoshes to flip-flops to trail-runners to sexy little black pumps.
These days, online shoe shoppers have more options than ever, with some experts estimating the total online shoe universe at about $3 billion. Market leader Zappos.com last week acquired the assets of 6pm.com from Denver-based eBags, Inc. And Gap Inc., struggling with all its bricks-and-mortar retail brands, launched piperlime.com, its shoe site, last year.
Mainline retailers, of course, also sell plenty of shoes online: J.C. Penney is reportedly the second-largest online shoe seller.
All of these sites are fighting for business on two fronts. They either have to lure devoted online shoe shoppers away from other sites with promises of better selection, prices and service, making free shipping and returns the norm. Or they have to convince people that buying shoes--a product that is notoriously hard to fit--can be a worthwhile online pursuit.
Endless.com--the first company launched by Amazon without the Amazon name--has carved a niche for itself with its promise of "negative $5 shipping." "That's right," the site promises. "We pay you for overnight shipping."
"Our job with this campaign is just to make sure that as many people see the site as possible," says Rowan. The site will do the rest--anyone who sees and uses the endless[.com] site will be back for more."
Meanwhile, at Zappos, maintaining its leadership edge is "kind of a boring story," says Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, who predicts that his company will reach $800 million in sales this year. "We are just constantly working on improving the customer experience."