As I made the usual morning slog through my in-box Monday, I was about to skip past a news release touting a back-to-school promotion for Live Search Cashback, when I noticed one of the featured deals was on a ThinkPad tablet PC from electronic shoe retailer Zappos.com.
Thinking for sure it was a typo, I went to harass the person who sent me the release. The funny thing is, it really is Zappos selling that tablet computer. I missed it when Zappos expanded from high heels to high tech.
While the departure sounds strange, Zappos certainly wouldn't be the first online retailer to go well beyond its initial category. As we all know, Amazon was the world's largest bookstore before it moved into groceries, sporting goods, and basically anything they can put in a box (and even a few things that don't need a box).
The key was Amazon had a logistics system that worked better than anyone else's. I have no idea how efficient Zappos system is, since I still buy my shoes the old-fashioned way. However, my co-workers tell me they are amazingly fast at getting your order to you and, well, they do have cool robots.
As for that Live Search Cashback promotion, some of the participants, like Zappos, are offering double their usual cash-back percentage during August to those who place their order after going through Microsoft's site.