More Great CSR: Give, by Zappos for Good

I don’t know what your garage looks like, but mine is always full of cardboard boxes. Amazon, Zappos, Chewy, NewEgg, plus all of the random stuff that I couldn’t live without (like the replacement sustain pedal assembly for my 1977 Rhodes Mk I Stage Piano) generates at least one more cardboard box.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with cardboard boxes. They’re from a sustainable source, they’re readily recyclable, and they’re reusable - one is a puppet theater at the moment. But they do accumulate. Which gives us another opportunity to see how one company is thinking about innovative CSR.

Last November, Zappos partnered with Soles4Soles, a nonprofit that collects used shoes and clothing and distributes them to people in need. In addition, Soles4Souls generates revenue by providing inventory to entrepreneurs in developing nations. It’s a fascinating model, and you can see more about it here:

But back to cardboard boxes and CSR. Zappos knows that they ship a lot of cardboard to customers. What if that cardboard could be used again, getting it out of the garage, and having it support the already fantastic relationship that Zappos has with its customers? Enter Give, by Zappos for Good

Here’s how it works: Take gently used shoes and clothes and put them in a box (not even a Zappos box, necessarily.) Print out a shipping label, prepaid by Zappos. Drop the box off at a UPS pickup location. Oh, and Zappos sends you a coupon, too. The direct, tangible benefits are obvious: Fewer boxes in the garage, and shoes and clothes are going to a good cause, not into landfills. I’m gonna guess that 100% of those boxes get recycled, too.

But the intangible benefits back to Zappos are even bigger. Is your opinion of Zappos different after reading about this than it was when you saw their name at the beginning of the post? I bet it is. In fact, research suggests that every $1 spent on strategic, well thought out corporate philanthropy can generate $6 in increased sales revenue. The mechanisms for this are well supported, too: Corporate philanthropy is a leading indicator for sales growth via customer satisfaction, something Zappos knows a thing or two about.  

Time to head to the garage for a box…