Jeff Bezos, meet Tony Hsieh. Zappos Moving into Electronics. And More.

As I said this morning, you should rule the world!!! How about starting by giving seminars?
Written by Tom Steinert-Threlkeld, Contributor

As I said this morning, you should rule the world!!! How about starting by giving seminars? You could start with Wall St., then banks, how about the auto industry, then there's the airlines. I could go on, but it would just be easier if you ruled the world!!! Janet A.

-- Janet A., April 27 2009, on Zappos.com’s Zeta site

Zappos.com has constructed what it likes to call a Zeta site as an alternative to its current online merchandising site. And looks like it is preparing to become a serious seller of electronics, a category it entered, it says, a year ago.

The pioneer of “free shipping both ways” has reached about $1 billion in annual sales, largely on its sales from shoes. But like Amazon, which started off honing its business on books, it looks like it is going to move quickly now beyond its emphasis on footwear.

Already, it’s selling clothing, bags and accessories. But the Zeta site and access from its normal site clearly indicates its interest in selling computers, camcorders, digital cameras and other consumer electronics.

That kind of expansion will put it head to head not just with Amazon, but other high-volume online retailers such as Buy.com, in new categories like electronics.

But it will be taking its practice of providing free shipping both ways to laptops and the like, making the practice of checking out a machine seemingly friction-free.

That though will depend on how it interprets what it says on the Zeta site is its 365-day return policy on circuitry.

Sure, you can return an electronic product for a full year. But … it has to be unused and in its original packaging.

How would you ever know if it ever worked if you can’t boot it up?

Still, it’s not hard to imagine that Zappos will keep to its famously pro-consumer fanaticism and consider the customer correct, most of the time.

And what is more likely, it says here, is that Zappos will find ways to be more interactive with its customers, than even Amazon.

Amazon may have its suggestion engine (if you are buying this, you’ll also be interested in this). But Zappos probably will find a way to finally bring live social interaction into purchasing.

Thinking of buying that HP Compaq notebook that you saw in a store? Let Zappos ping all previous purchasers on their system and see if they can answer your questions about it, live, when you’re making the decision.

Maybe, maybe not.

Regardless, if you think of Zappos as simply a seller of shoes, think again.

This is a company that wants to rewrite the rules of retailing on the Web. And thinks it has the DNA to do it.

The next test: Electronics.

But not the only one. The broadening has been foreshadowed by the listings of new categories like Entertainment and Housewares on its Zeta site. And also this simple reference in Entrepreneur magazine, in March.

Jeff Bezos, meet Tony Hsieh.

If Tony has his way, the pendulum in online retailing will swing from A to Z.

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