Weave: Transforming the Zalando Experience

Knowledge / Inspiration

Weave: Transforming the Zalando Experience

Continuous Design
UXDX EMEA 2021

Zalando's vision is to be the starting point for fashion. We seek to have a loyal following, having deep relationships with our customers. In order to have such a connection with customers and to play a bigger role in their lives, we realize that fashion is a quite emotional topic: what we wear affects the way we feel. The presentation explores how the Zalando brand has been evolving becoming more "distinct and remarkable" over the last 12-18 months.

Note the video ad for Zalando at the end is under copyright and cannot be published, it is available here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmrtJdOQ5pM&ab_channel=UXDX

My name is Anne. I work at Zalando based in Berlin as the SVP Product design. And I'm very excited to talk to you today about how we've been designing a better experience for our customers providing a more personal and relevant way to have them explore and buy fashion and beauty products.

To begin with, here's a quick overview of what to expect. I'd like to briefly introduce the Zalando, talking about where we are coming from, what challenges we were facing and what we did to address them. Lastly, I'm going to finish by telling you where we're heading, when it comes to creating remarkable experiences for customers across Europe.

Let me start with the beginnings, founded in 2008. We have grown from a Berlin based startup selling flip flops online to become a pan European fashion, retail and services platform. Our vision is to be the starting point for fashion; having customers come to Zalando every time they think fashion, beauty, and lifestyle. Over the last 12 months, more than 10 million active customers joined this Zalando platform resulting in 44.5 million active customers at the end of the second quarter. Customers engaged a lot more frequently with an average order practice customer reaching a new all-time high leading to record number of growth.

Having a lot of customers come to Zalando makes us definitely proud and excited though. What we're also aiming for is to have deep relationships with these customers, moving away from being mainly a transactional service provider and rather serving and offering our customers even more to play a bigger role in their life overall.

From the start, our customers have been at the heart of everything we do. For them, we aim to inspire and to create the most remarkable shopping experience in fashion. Our formula of how to get there. What we promise our customers is the problems we solve for them around buying fashion, beauty, or product being at around: serving a flawless assortment; providing inspiration and advice tailored in a unique way to every single customer; giving them a seamless experience, especially, but only when it comes to convenience; providing an experience of trust, where they control their personal data; being a sustainable platform and not to forget welcome everyone, no matter who they are by creating an exclusive experience.

By delivering on all these customer promises, we aim to be the starting point for fashion, though looking back, we also had to overcome some challenges to get there.

In the past, we have set strict standards for experiences that have been scaled across a very large number of teams and partners and why the systematic approach really increases the consistency of our digital experience. It became less and less differentiated. We realised customers struggled to connect emotionally with Zalando and that our brand started to feel distant.

Here's a couple of proof points: Three images from three catalogs, one of them being from Zalando, the other one from two competitors, really hard to distinguish or to put it differently, a customer told us that Zalando seems to be someone very someone very conservative. A man that wears a suit, a strict suit not to flipped just something in the middle. And that's kind of a juxtaposition in the role of fashion that can really play a big role in customers' life.

Here's a customer from the UK who told us I've always bought clothes which I thought would make me feel more confident. This underlines, all my fashion choices. So, in order to overcome this distance, that customers felt at Zalando, as a brand, we also needed to get closer to our customers and understand their relationship to fashion better.

Another quote from a customer in Germany tells us that clothing is how somebody defines herself. It influences a lot of how I feel, it provides me with self-esteem and also with self-confidence. So, what we learned out of that is that whether it is dressing up, dressing down or dressing appropriately, what we wear affects the way we feel.

Fashion changes and so does every individual's personal sense of fashion and prone to change over time. So, really it isn't just about fashion. It is about how it makes people feel. So, what did we take out of these learnings, these observations from our customers and the realisation that we needed to become more distinct and create a more personal connection to our customers?

Here's what we did to evolve our core experience. The first note we took away was that we needed to stop only selling our customers clothes, but rather tell them stories, create experiences, memorable moments they wouldn't forget. And the second note to self is that in order for humans to create a relationship between themselves and a brand, the brand needs to portray a particular personality with specific values and symbols attached to it. That's why we invested first in understanding what is our personality and how do we bring it across. One symbol, one metaphor that guided us was the idea of The Care Label.

Moving away from just focusing on the brand and rather on how something is made, where it's been made, the material and tapping into the real and big conversations about fashion in the real context and use of our customers. We derived couple of key visual attributes to reflect our personality better. Introducing fun pairing, thinking about color and how we would depict certain colors from the imagery and the assets on our experience. And lastly, leveraging iconography to creat a much more incluseive and accessible experience overall. But visual changes wouldn't have been enough for us. Instead, we thought about what are the core benefits we want to be known for? What do we want our customers to realise when they open our app of what they could do by engaging with Zalando?

We wanted to A; think about how customers could make this Zalando experience their own, how they could discover brands they love. Third, how they could close the circle. And fourth, get the plus treatment.

Let me introduce you to each of these benefits in more detail. Make it your own is about the promise to create an experience made for you that nobody else gets. Style recommendations, advice based on your life, what fits, the weather and even the fashion you already own. Discover your brands whether you're into the latest, the newest brands and trends from the world of fashion, you get them until you find something perfect. Close the circle; invites you to buy pre-owned items or sell us the items you no longer wear. We do all the hard work and you get credit on the Zalando and the warm, fuzzy feeling of doing something good. And lastly, if you're one of our most loyal customers, Plus customers, you get the plus treatment. It means that you're never going to miss out that you get first access to exclusive items and offers, that you get premium delivery and a personal stylist who comes to you with tailored advice.

So, how did we realize these benefits? Earlier this year, we launched a set of new experiences, a set of improvements to our core customer experience and repositioned it around these benefits. We've been pivoting from our mainly transactional experience becoming a lot more engaging in differentiating and answering specific customer needs specific to fashion and beauty.

Here's one example, finding something that fits as one of the most common and important customer problems when buying fashion online. That's why we've been investing for many years around solving size and fit related customer problems. As of now already 50% of all items ordered on Zalando had size advice and recommendations offered to our customers. With this new size and style profile, we allow our customers to make the experience their own by entering them once and then rediscovering the customer, the catalog, the customer gets a unique catalog just made for them, without having to reenter tedious types of information every time they look at a single product.

Discover your brands. Finally, provides our brands a stage to really celebrate the stories, the campaigns, the collections that they are launching on Zalando. And as a very big fan of a brand, you can also follow and get notified if there's a new product launching so you never miss out. This is really a win-win not just for the customer, but also for our partners who therefore can connect more directly with the customer base on Zalando. And here's another example of how we make our large assortment and our flawless selection really discoverable for our customers. Later this year, we're going to launch what we call Fashion Driven Browse, which are these visual entry points to the assortment, creating fashion specific dimensions. For instance, how you discover a dress. Boiling down the selection to manageable amount. As of today, I would look for a dress I can get over 20,000 downloads via search. By using these little cards, I do get offered specific cuts, material, length shapes. So, as a fashion confident customer, I know exactly where I can go to find the right dress. If I'm not so confident and competent, I get explained what these specific dimensions could mean to me. So, again, every customer gets a distinct set of products, offered around diverse dimensions and through these visual entry points the whole catalog becomes a lot more engaging and less like a grid and a lot more engaging.

Close to circle. We're very proud that exactly one year ago we launched, Pre-owned. The ability to answer our consumer interest in buying items that somebody else is no longer wearing. It really represents one of the biggest achievements around our sustainability commitment to have a net positive impact that we seek to make. Pre-owned has been the category that attracted the largest number of first-time online shoppers. And this is especially true for the younger audiences, Gen Z and millennials. They are asking for affordable and sustainable fashion and yet expect flawless quality and best in class e-commerce convenience, which they can now find on the Zalando. But that's not enough, we also offer those customers can trade in items that no longer wear uploading any item, not just those that they bought Zalando before to sell back to the Zalando, get credit and hence make always space in their wardrobe for things to actually like to wear.

Get the "Plus" treatment. Plus is our subscription model that gives customers the best service and best experience we have to offer an exchange for an annual fee. Customers get the plus treatment and so far, the main benefit has been prioritised shipping, and that's been really appreciated showing high results in customer satisfaction. Although we wanted to offer more than just convenience to our Plus customers and hence by now, they get early access to sales and exclusive assortment and can anticipate that they get the very special treatment. And we see great results by having items sell out with an hour that we offer only to them.

So, this is what we have achieved so far, improving our core experience though we've looked ahead and we're thinking about additional opportunities to engage our customers. One thing we learned and realised. Is that fashion bringing a certain level of customer problems around buying garments, clothing, I mentioned size and fit discoverability brands, et cetera, but thinking about one part of our assortment, we realized that there was more, more that we could do and had to get smart about. And this is beauty.

Beauty is a very personal topic. Here's a customer from Italy who mentioned that one of the small routine moments that brings comfort is when the customer has a 'me' moment using their favorite fruit coconut scrap a fragment that relaxes and reminds me of how the customer likes to wind down after a very long day in the office. And especially after the end of a very long, busy week. Beauty products are mean to create small moments of in self-care. And we learned that during the pandemic in particular, but more so in general, the transition to online shopping by Gen Z audiences opens up new opportunities to provide a distinct beauty experience.

Beauty shopping is a multisensory experience given different textures, color shades on individual skin types and fragrances the products have. And that's why beauty product requires inspiration guidance, assurance, and oftentimes testing before purchase decision is made. We want to showcase the different sub-categories of beauty products by providing these different kinds of information and storytelling, drawing customers in to understand what ingredients care products can contain, what color palette may suit them or what emotion a fragrance might evoke.

Beauty is also the space where more and more different forms of advice are appreciated. That's why we aim to provide a tailored level of advice, allowing customers to assess their personal skin and hair profile. But also, if you can see you on the slides, having experts in enthusiast share what they can live without sharing the tips and routines, which relates to everything from ratings and reviews, but also tutorials.

So, customers don't need to go to two different stores, one for fashion, for one for beauty, but we had this one destination offering both. So, it's rather easy and pleasant as described here at the beauty experience, the beauty focused experience and taste this very differentiated functionality, but also communication and marketing, which is complementary to our fashion specific proposition.

What we see with beauty, we believe can also work in other parts of this sortment, celebrating the unique selection we offer, the partnerships we have with small and large friends, the level of advice and inspiration we can provide, engaging customers by understanding the better, offering them more and therefore meaning more. This is what we're most excited about. Thinking about creating the most compelling and relevant customer experience for fashion and beauty across Europe.

Enough of the words. Let me show you in motion. What our vision looks like, putting all these things that are talked about together. Enjoy. Thanks for listening and your attention.