Zalando: Meet the technology company that just happens to sell clothes
To the average UK consumer Zalando isn’t a well-known name in the world of retail but across the rest of Europe, it’s an entirely different matter.
With 18.8 million customers the brand rivals the likes of Amazon by using the latest technology to deliver an innovative shopping experience like no one else’s.
We take a look at three tactics they’re using to topple the established giants of ecommerce and make consumers sit up and take notice.
Free, local and fast
With 14 hubs across Europe, Zalando operates local distribution centres for each of their markets meaning they can offer a quick and convenient delivery service which competes with the likes of Amazon on speed and efficiency.
The company knows how off-putting delivery charges are to customers so gives every customer free delivery. But they don’t stop there – they also guarantee free returns, up to 100 days and offer a free pick-up service so that customers can give back their goods with minimum fuss. It’s this level of service that made many claim the business would fail but with a latest valuation of around 916 million euros and growth rate of 25% (Ecommerce News, 2016), they’ve proved their critics wrong.
Data and technology driven
Surprisingly it seems that this business chooses not to only focus on the fashion but also the technology behind the shopping experience. Unlike most fashion businesses the company isn’t run by buyers or a hardened commercial team but by data scientists who continually refine and evolve the business offering. It’s their job to introduce more efficient ways to distribute goods, use customers’ data and introduce new technology to evolve the shopping experience.
One such example of their innovative thinking is Zalando’s new photo search service that enables customers to take a snap of an outfit and receive recommendations for similar clothes (Retail Week, 2016). It’s a great idea which has huge potential in today’s socially connected, tech-savvy shopper.
Zalando prides itself on connecting brands, stylists, designers and consumers and it’s certainly a promise it delivers on with its unique personal shopping service. One of the most unusual offerings by the brand is the ‘Zalon’ service which gives customers styling advice by using their data and a telephone consultation with a stylist to make recommendations for their next purchase.
After a phone consultation with one of Zalando’s 150 stylists, an outfit is then selected based on the customer profile – combination of their existing shopping data, answers from an online questionnaire and responses during the phone consultation. The recommended outfit is then sent via free delivery and the customer can return the items if they do not like it. Information about returns then helps the stylist drill down further into each shopper’s personal style to refine the process. It’s a great way to combine the personalised experience of a stylist and the convenience of online shopping.
We’re pretty excited about what Zalando’s bringing to the ecommerce market and look forward to seeing how it takes off in the UK. The brand is a fantastic example of how it’s possible to do retail a little differently using the power of data and technology.