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Fashion Retailers: Is Zalando on Your Radar?

Zalando began selling shoes in 2008 and is now the largest purely online clothing and shoe platform in Germany, generating $3 billion a year and selling to 18.4 million customers. If you sell apparel products, the marketplace is one to keep firmly on your radar.

Zalando originally got its inspiration from the US site Zappos. But as it grew, Zalando opened its site to leading fashion and apparel brands with a new marketplace platform. It now has a strong consumer base across all demographics and is committed to a technology-forward experience for customers, including live-chat with personal stylists and the ability to select three-hour delivery via an app.

What You Need to Know About Zalando

Zalando offers third-party sellers considerable reach. For instance, the marketplace saw 479 million site visits in Q1 of 2016, receiving 15.6 million orders in that time. With more than 150,000 products from over 1,500 brands, there is further room for expansion with third-party sellers.

Retailers partnering with Zalando can expect a lot from the marketplace, but Zalando expects a lot in return. To gain access to Zalando’s expansive customer base, sellers on the marketplace will need to align with it on several key points:

  • Product Mix: Zalando looks for brands that are complementary to its wholesale offering and also aims to provide more depth on best-selling wholesale styles.
  • Product Pages: Product listing pages are the only place that the seller’s name will appear. Priority is also given to Zalando, if it stocks a SKU.
  • Product Representation: Zalando has carefully curated not only the products on its site, but also the visual elements — consistency is important to the company.
  • Policy Terms: Zalando offers site-wide free delivery and a 100-day free returns policy, which you’ll be expected to offer as well.

Consistency is Key

Listing quality and customer service are both key to success on Zalando. Retailers that sell through Zalando must meet criteria around the quality of their products. If you already list on Tesco or La Redoute, you’re in a good place as Zalando has similar requirements to these marketplaces.

Browsing Zalando’s site is very useful to get a better understanding of the listing requirements needed. It’s immediately clear that consistency is very important to the marketplace. Zalando expects third-party sellers to be able to provide similar photos and content to its first-party listings so that the site maintains a look of continuity throughout. You just need to look at Zalando’s site to see the quality of product listings: pictures, titles and product details are all to a very high standard.

There’s a strong emphasis on images throughout the marketplace – you need at least two images (up to seven) for each listing. When selling shoes, the image requirement extends to a minimum of four images, each showing a specific angle.

Products with variations must also have five different, consecutive sizes in stock, so buyers won’t be disappointed if they click and then browse per size. Listings will be rejected by Zalando if you don’t have enough sizes in stock.

Shipping Requirements

Zalando, besides the usual requirements, has some strict requirements on shipping carriers. The marketplace requires that sellers utilize particular carriers in each country – meaning that sellers could potentially have to use a different carrier per country. If you don’t already work with these carriers, then you should contact them prior to working with Zalando as there aren’t exceptions.

Zalando’s list of allowed carriers per country are:

  • Germany: DHL
  • Netherlands: Post NL
  • France: La Poste
  • Italy: UPS or Post Italiane
  • Belgium: Bpost or DHL
  • UK: Hermes
  • US: DHL*

* Shipping direct-to-consumer from the United States can get complicated and costly. While plenty of US brands sell on the marketplace, the best way to do it is either to have a European DC to ship their Zalando orders from. Alternatively, a brand could work with a European 3PL to fulfill orders.

How To Get Started

Zalando is a gated marketplace, which means that you need its approval to list on the site. Zalando may want some specific details from you, then feedback will be provided after a review. Zalando’s wholesale department reviews all applications for marketplace sellers, so allow time for this process.

While there are strict requirements when selling on Zalando, these ensure a consistent and enjoyable shopping experience for all customers. And with an average order value of  about $85, it’s clearly a format that converts customers. Take the time to assess if you can meet Zalando’s requirements, and if so, why not take the plunge and apply to sell on the marketplace?

Want to learn about the other avenues to growth for fashion sellers? Take a read of our new E-Commerce and Apparel: So Hot Right Now eBook.

Blog post by David Le Roux, account manager for ChannelAdvisor

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