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At Zappos Distribution Center, Tattoos are Fine and Food is Free

As DCs struggle to meet the changing expectations of a new generation of workers, Zappos' combination of generous perks and modest pay offers one recipe for success.

(Boonton, NJ, June 17, 2011) — Tattoos are fine and food is free in worker-centric DC Workers at Zappos' distribution center in Shepherdsville, KY, are treated to an array of perks often associated with Silicon Valley or Wall Street.

There's free lunch every day, and drinks and snacks from the vending machines are free. Employees who cover just themselves on the company health plan pay nothing for medical insurance. (Workers with families chip in for part of the premium.)

Amid the push to create "worker-centric" warehouses, online shoe retailer Zappos is a leader.

YouTube testimonials from Zappos workers show one worker after another praising working conditions and touting their freedom to be individuals. For example, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PcGulI6ONY.

Unlike some DCs, Zappos imposes no dress code and doesn't require workers to cover tattoos or piercings.

While Zappos offers generous perks, its starting pay is a bit stingy. DC workers start at $8.50 an hour, although that can quickly rise to $10 after six months and $12 in a few years.

"Our starting wage is the lowest in the area, but we have a series of raises that are very aggressive," says Anthony Vicars, director of fulfillment operations.

More about Zappos and worker-centric DCs is in the June issue of Distribution Center Management.

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