Founded in 1999, Zappos was one of the first major online shoe retailers. Originally, the site was called “ShoeSite.com” before being renamed to Zappos (from the word Zapatos, which is Spanish for shoe).
From 1998 through 2011, Zappos was one of the largest online shoe retailers in North America, selling to both US and Canadian customers. But does Zappos ship to Canada?
Unfortunately, in 2011, Zappos made the decision to stop its Canadian operations. Canadian shoppers can no longer get Zappos in Canada.
Thankfully, there’s a loophole that allows you to get Zappos shipped to Canada.
Below, I’ll explain a bit more about why Zappos stopped shipping to Canada and give you a step-by-step guide on how to get your Zappos order shipped to Canada.
For over a decade, Zappos had a loyal customer base in Canada. While the majority of Zappos’ revenue came from US sales, the online shoe retailer frequently shipped orders across the border to the north from the site canada.zappos.com.
On April 1st, 2011, Zappos released a statement saying that it could no longer ship orders to Canada (or any other country, for that matter). Now, Zappos only ships within the United States, to US military bases, and to US territories like Puerto Rico.
I’ll admit, I was rather surprised when Zappos stopped shipping to Canada. I’d purchased several pairs of shoes on the site myself and always had a good experience. With few Canadian alternatives, Zappos was my go-to site for buying shoes online.
I was equally disappointed to learn that one of my favourite athletic retailers, ASOS, had also stopped shipping to Canada.
When I found out that Zappos stopped shipping to Canada, I decided to dig a bit deeper and do a bit of research as to why Zappos stopped its Canadian operations.
Here’s what I found out:
- Amazon purchased Zappos in 2009
- Zappos sales shipped across the Canadian border often had additional customs costs
- Zappos agreed to new shoe distribution deals
Here’s how these events resulted in Zappos stopping its Canadian sales.
In its first year in business (1999), Zappos had a gross revenue of $1.6 million, which isn’t bad for a start-up. By 2004, Zappos was raking in over $184 million in sales – a number which grew with each passing year.
The company was the top online retailer in North America for shoes.
Around this time, scam sites selling fake imitation shoes were very common, and Zappos provided an unparalleled level of reliability. Customers who purchased their shoes on Zappos knew that they weren’t getting ripped off.
Eventually, Zappos caught the attention of Amazon, which was just starting to grow into a major multi-billion-dollar company.
In late 2009, the eCommerce giant purchased Zappos for a whopping $1.2 billion. For the most part, Amazon kept the company the same.
However, Amazon did initiate some changes designed to increase Zappos’ profits. Among these changes, sales to Canada were discontinued a year and a half later.
One of the core values of Zappos is to provide fast, free shipping and returns on all orders for all customers.
Due to the obvious delays caused by cross-border shipping, Zappos was unable to provide the same level of expediency and quality customer service to its Canadian customers.
Understandably, Canadian customers weren’t pleased when their orders took days or weeks longer to arrive than they expected.
In the statement made after ceasing Canadian operations, Zappos itself stated, “One of our core values is to ‘deliver WOW through service’… Our Canadian customers know that we have not lived up to these service levels.”
By 2011, Zappos (now owned by Amazon) had grown so massive that it had major deals with some of the world’s top shoe manufacturers. Unfortunately, deals this large often come with distribution restrictions.
Since Zappos is based in the United States, the company had to follow certain agreements that prevented it from offering its full shoe selection to foreign customers.
This meant that product availability and stock was constantly changing, which often caused confusion and disappointment for Canadian customers.
Although Zappos doesn’t ship directly to Canada anymore, there’s still a way to shop for Zappos in Canada by using a package forwarding service.
This gives you a “virtual mailbox” located in the US, allowing you to make a purchase on the Zappos online store. The package forwarder will receive your package before forwarding it to your address in Canada.
Since Zappos is technically shipping to a US address, you shouldn’t encounter any problems with your order. That being said, using a package forwarding service can be a bit costly, so keep this in mind as you’re shopping.
Here are the steps you’ll need to take to get Zappos shipped to Canada:
- Select a package forwarding service
- Mask your IP address with a VPN
- Shop online with Zappos
- Ship your order to the package forwarder
- Verify package condition
- Forward your Zappos order to Canada
Below, I’ll explain the steps in further detail, so you can see for yourself.
First thing’s first – you’ll need to have a reliable package forwarding service to use if you want to ship Zappos to Canada. Some of the top package forwarders that work in Canada include:
- Cross-Border Pickups
Each package forwarding service has its own set of pros and cons. Some are better for one-time orders, while others offer special deals on shipping to monthly subscribers (which can be good for frequent online shoppers).
I recommend doing a bit of research on the companies I mentioned above to figure out which best meets your needs.
Once you sign up, you’ll be given a US-based address that you can use while shopping online with US-based retailers. This is the loophole that allows you to buy Zappos in Canada.
This may not be necessary, but it’s still a good step to take either way.
Often, US-only sites like Zappos register your computer’s IP address, which shows that you’re shopping online from Canada. Based on this information, you may not be able to complete your order.
To ensure everything goes smoothly, I recommend using a VPN service like ExpressVPN to mask your IP address.
VPNs re-route your internet traffic through a server of your choice, located in nearly any country around the world.
Once you sign up for the VPN, you’ll be able to mask your Canadian IP address, making it appear as if you’re a regular American shopper based in the US.
Now, it’s time for the fun part – shopping!
With your VPN activated, you should have no problem shopping the Zappos US collection and adding items to your cart.
When it comes time to checkout online, you’ll go through the process the same as you would if you were buying from any other online retailer.
The only difference is that you’ll list the virtual mailbox address provided by your package forwarder instead of your actual address in Canada.
Based on your chosen shipping speed, your package should arrive in Canada between a few days and a week.
Your package forwarder should notify you, informing you that your package has arrived safely. The forwarding service may also send you an image of the order, confirming that it’s in good condition.
From here, you’ll need to forward your Zappos order to Canada.
Your package forwarding service will offer you several shipping options, ranging from as fast as two weeks to as long as two months. The quicker you want your package, the more you’ll have to pay for shipping.
If you’ve got your heart set on a pair of Zappos-exclusive shoes, then using a package forwarding service is a reliable way to get your Zappos order shipped to Canada.
However, using a package forwarder can be costly, and your order can take weeks to arrive due to customs.
Personally, I’d recommend using a local Canadian alternative such as Famous Footwear, Livestock, or STAY FRESH. You’ll get your shoes far quicker and won’t have to pay international shipping fees.
Looking for more frugal living tips? Be sure to check out my complete guide to saving $1,200 per month (or more) in Canada next!