Zalando’s spokesperson Boris Radke (on the left in the picture above) looks back on his first five years at Zalando and in the process recalls some interesting anecdotes on Zalando’s famous informal and fast execution:
Now we needed a real, constant team for this task [of building the first warehouse]. So we hired the project lead (today Simon is the new site leader of our actually 4th warehouse), a numbers guy (today Stephan is responsible for warehouse search) and, which was the most challenging, a construction engineer (Robert now builds this — Zalando Campus). I remained the communication guy for everything. 4 guys, age about 30 each. None ever built anything that size before. Responsible to make sure that Zalando starts operations of Europe’s largest e-commerce facility by summer 2012. We closed the deal with the developing company, with the city (Erfurt, central Germany), had to adapt the concept slightly (from 80% shoes beginning of 2011 to 50% apparel in middle of 2012 — imagine this in capacity planning) and so on.
So actually before we commenced operations in our first self-constructed warehouse in Erfurt, we decided to build another one. The second one of its kind. So even before we made any kind of experiences with the first one, we started building a new one. This sounds way more dangerous than it was because we always planned with the highest stretch in flexibility in mind. Rather pay up for flexibility than pay for empty space later.
For a long time, we tried to keep Zalando low profile in terms of its incredible success. We were a submarine which took the German and many European markets without anybody really noticing it, except of course its loud and aggressive marketing campaigns but no faces, no interviews, no numbers. That of course had to change someday. Maybe a little late.