Zalando SE is a European multinational fashion e-commerce company based in Berlin, Germany. It was founded in 2008 by Robert Gentz and David Schneider and has since grown to become one of the largest online fashion and lifestyle retailers in Europe.
A leading European online platform for fashion and lifestyle, Berlin-based Zalando SE was founded in 2008 by Robert Gentz and David Schneider and has since grown to become one of the largest online fashion and lifestyle retailers in Europe. Operating an online platform that offers apparel, accessories, footwear and beauty products in collaboration with over 7,000 brands, customers can purchase products through Zalando’s website and mobile app. The company’s business model revolves around providing a personalized shopping experience.
Zalando has an interesting history. Few know that the online e-tailer initially specialised in the sale of footwear. The founders’ private cell phone numbers became customer hotlines, and they carried the packages to the post office themselves. By offering free delivery and up to 100-day right of return, Zalando set new standards in online retail. The customers liked it and the company grew rapidly. Following its successful launch in Austria and Switzerland, The Netherlands and France became the first non-German-speaking market in 2010. The following year, it opened online retail sites in the UK, Italy, and Switzerland, and then expanded to Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Belgium, Spain and Poland.
In 2014, Zalando was listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. In 2015, it started collaborating with Topshop and began selling merchandise online. Later that year, fashion trade fair “Bread and Butter” was acquired by Zalando, with the intention to open the event to a broader audience as a “fashion festival”. The first edition of “Bread & Butter by Zalando” took place in 2016, hosting an estimated 20,000 visitors at Arena, Berlin. However, Zalando discontinued “Bread and Butter” due to a shift in strategy two years later. In March 2017, Zalando acquired German company Kickz, which at that time owned fifteen shops across Germany, all specialising in basketball footwear. The following year, Zalando launched Beauty in Germany, Poland, and Austria and opened a beauty concept store in Berlin. In 2018, Zalando expanded its collaboration with physical retailers in Germany and expanded its operations to Ireland and the Czech Republic.
In addition to its e-commerce operations, Zalando has expanded its services to include a range of value-added offerings. This includes the Zalando Lounge, a dedicated section for limited-time sales events and exclusive discounts, and Zalando Beauty, a curated selection of beauty and cosmetics products. Zalando also provides fashion advice and inspiration through its online magazine and style guides. In more recent news, In December 2020, co-CEO Rubin Ritter announced that he would be stepping down next year, two years before the end of his contract, to allow his wife to pursue her professional ambitions. In June 2021, the company announced that it would give all of its workers five days off work in August, in recognition of their work through the Coronavirus pandemic. In 2022, Zalando discontinued its standalone resale app, Zircle.
Zalando has achieved remarkable growth since its inception. It is now active in 25 European markets, offering its customers more than 20 local payment options, offers a virtual fitting room, collaborates with different regional logistics service providers and includes nineteen languages, not only in its online shop but also in customer service. And, has also made efforts to improve its sustainability practices, setting ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions and promoting sustainability initiatives within the fashion industry. Indeed, what once was a Berlin start-up has grown into a European company, Zalando SE. It is widely believed that the unprecedented success of Zalando is the team’s ability yo make digital and logistical capabilities available to brands and retailers, leveraging its data to empower their digital strategies, and connecting stock to unlimited demand across various platforms.
‘To be the starting point for fashion, connecting all players in the industry and catering to their requirements with our platform strategy at the center.’
‘At Zalando, our purpose of reimagining fashion for the good of all drives us to make the fashion world smarter, friendlier, and more open.’
Robert Gentz (Co-CEO), David Schneider (Co-CEO), Astrid Arndt (Chief People Officer), Sandra Dembeck (Chief Financial Officer), and David Schröder (Chief Operating Officer)