I was looking for a pair of shoes. Something fairly particular. After a bit of searching I came across a brand I liked. No reason to name names.
I scoured their website, found the pair I liked and decided I needed to try them on before ordering.
Only problem is I couldn't find a retail locator on their site. So I found their Twitter handle and asked very politely, twice, if someone could help me find a retailer in Chicago.
Then I sent an email asking the same thing.
Finally I walked Michigan Avenue and found a department store that carried the brand. They had the shoe, but not my size. But no big deal - I had confirmed my choice.
So I did what I always do - ordered them from Zappos. Came the next day. As sure of a sure bet out there.
I love the shoes. Would probably buy another pair. This, despite having a pretty poor experience with the brand (really, no experience at all).
The moral here is that a lot of companies have Zappos to thank for bridging the customer experience gap. I hope they realize that. Both Zappos and the brands they sell.