Zara is a fast fashion phenomenon. With about 4,400 stores around the globe this empire is twice the size of Swedish H&M and no end is near; Zara is opening more than one new store every day or approximately 500 every year.
Here are two aspects that fascinate me with Zara, the world’s largest fashion retailer:
- They let data decide
Inditex, Zara’s parent company (also the owner of Massimo Dutti and more) says its employees are trained to collect (and bring forth) customer reactions. This information is reported to headquarters and – with daily reports coming in from all stores around the world – analysts see patterns and react. Do enough people mention that they hate zippers at the ankles? Gone. Do enough people ask for pants in coral? Done. New designs will hit stores within weeks. It’s the pulse of fast fashion and it’s about using online strategies to boost ofﬂine sales.
- They invented the model
Zara employs hundreds of designers and they’re all anonymous. Mean tongues repeat the standard accusation; Zara is not designing – they’re copying. Whether that’s true or not this giant is far from a soulless replica. Zara may not invent a lot of plays but they invented the game. The production process, from design idea to ﬁnished product, takes two to three weeks.
With all stores getting new deliveries twice a week (the entire stock in any store changes within 11 days) Zara has created a “buy now or never” mentality amongst its customers. They have learned they’ll never see the same garment twice, buy it right then and there – at a great price – or forget about it.
Last step of the sales process is the actual stores; for a company that doesn’t advertise – the stores are the only visible marketing. Zara invests heavily in real estate. The stores are always placed at the best locations, preferably in historical and beautiful buildings and always as close to the luxury brands as possible. Ka-ching!