Zalando is a phenomenon. In 2011, three years after it started, the store achieved a turnover of half a billion euros. Currently, it keeps on gaining market share in new European countries, operates in Russia and South America. The company founded by David Schneider and Robert Gentz has become a giant because it has overcome the belief that the internet is not a proper place to buy shoes. Instead of trying to convince the customers that you do not have to try on shoes before buying, they agreed to allow them to do so at home.
Books are being written about Zalando. Marketing specialists analyse sales tricks, business models, the techniques of market research and satisfying customer expectations that the German giant uses.
The most important factors in their success were a very wide initial offer (already at the moment of launch), careful selection of models and brands, thoughtful pricing policy and millions of euros pumped into advertising every month. However, it seems their return policy is the most important novelty that has allowed Zalando to differentiate themselves from other sellers and has become the driving force of their success.
You can buy and return without limits
The first time you shop at Zalando, you’re looking for a catch, as it seems impossible that an unlimited number of orders and returns is accepted. You start suspecting that you must have missed some small print. Then, you wait for an indication to appear which will let you know how much you have to spend to get a free delivery bonus. But nothing like this happens.
You can buy and return as many times as you wish. If it turns out that the shoes you ordered are too big or too small, or you stopped fancying them in the meantime before the courier delivered the package, you can always return them. The procedure is easy: you have to fill in a simple form and wait for the courier to come to pick up the package. It is completely free of charge and may be done within 100 days of the delivery date. And you are refunded to your bank account no later than 14 days after the package reaches the Zalando warehouse. This usually happens much earlier.
Many customers can’t believe that the best answer to a shoe fit problem on the first try is to send them back and buy another pair.
Online like in real life
The uniqueness of this online shoe trade (offering nowadays also clothes and accessories, i.e. backpacks, bags, straps, jewellery, watches and many other items) is that you can feel in Zalando like in a traditional store. Very simple shopping and returns procedure resembles the traditional trying on in a stationary store – you take one pair of shoes off the shelf and try them on and if you don’t get the right size the first time, you do the same with another pair. It takes a little longer, but you don’t have to leave the house, and no traditional store will offer you such a wide offer and ease of selection
And there are no limits to how many pairs of shoes you may order at once (or other goods), as long as you can afford it. You may try them on at home and send back those you don’t like or which don’t fit. Or even all of them.
Fast courier shipments have allowed the creation of a real fitting room in a virtual store. You may get advice at Zalando – “It’s best to buy a product and check it in your own time, at home, to see if it fits”.
Encouraging simplicity and feeling safe
There are many very clever analyses on Zalando’s sales strategies. However, you do not have to be an outstanding e-commerce or sales specialist to recognize the difference this store offers. You only need to shop there once to fall in love with its simplicity, the lack of small print or unexpected costs that appear only when placing the order.
After one visit you feel like popping in once more. Buying at Zalando is simply enjoyable – you shop feeling completely safe. Another factor which attracts you is genuinely competent and friendly customer service.
Zalando is the role model of ease (of shopping) and transparency (of principles). Just have a look at the store’s website: it is so intuitive and transparent that it is almost impossible to get lost in it. Searching for useful information is not a problem. And when you get to the text you are interested in (for example product description, passage from the regulations or size recommendations), you will find simple understandable wording. In such a place, shopping is often done for the pleasure of shopping. Isn’t that the point?