What Zalando Sees as its Core Competencies to Push the Platform Forward


A platform is far harder to grasp from the outside than, say, a ‘simple’ online shop. Platforms can take different shapes. And, in fact, platforms themselves are almost always more complex than they first appear to be because the very nature of a platform is to be different things to different people.
(Being a platform is so attractive to companies because it lets them take more shapes, be more than just one thing, and hence let them capture a bigger part of the pie. If successful that is, of course.)

From Zalando’s annual report:

We provide the fundamental technological infrastructure and marketing reach that helps brands leverage the power of the internet. Currently, we operate the Zalando Shop, which sells around 150,000 styles from over 1,500 brands. Owning almost the entire inventory, we engage in direct sales to the customer.

We also let selected brands sell their products directly on our websites via our partner program. In this model, we connect the customers with the brand who then sells directly to the customer. We receive a commission on the sale, and the brand is responsible for the delivery process. With our platform strategy, we will increase the opportunities for brands to sell their products directly through our websites and mobile apps. We believe that such opportunities can take various forms, enabling different groups of brands to sell their merchandise through our ecosystem, e.g. branded / unbranded market places, different kinds of production models or custom-designed tools that connect the offline world to the online world.

When building a platform it is even more mission critical to know one’s core competencies than is usual the case.

Here is Zalando’s take on this aspect, via its annual report:

Our technology and smart data capabilities are at the core of our platform and help us create improved solutions for customers, brands and intermediaries – as well as drive efficiency across all processes. We consider our own technology systems secure, robust and highly scalable. This facilitates efficient supply chain management, sourcing, customer relations, enterprise resource planning, risk management control, as well as stakeholder-facing e-business functionalities. The effective utilization of our technology platform and smart data solutions is at the core of our business success, helping to optimize processes and contributing to well-informed decision-making across our organization.

The localization of Zalando’s products and services is a key contributor to our success in the European fashion market. The design of our processes and services is tailored to customer requirements in the various regions – from adapted product offerings and preferred methods of payment and delivery to free customer service in the respective local languages.

This contrasts with centralized processes within the platform, such as content creation and order processing. In addition we offer free delivery and returns across Europe to all our customers.

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