Zalando looks to Alibaba for connected retail inspiration

European fashion e-tailer Zalando has looked to Alibaba and its New Retail concept for inspiration with its new “Connected Retail” platform. Zalando has set forth a plan to launch 600 physical stores by the end of the year, which will connect in-store inventory to the ecommerce site, allowing shoppers to order online and have purchases delivered from the store rather than a warehouse for a speedier delivery process. In addition to allowing a more convenient shopping experience, this system prevents costs from the inventory and fulfilment process.

"Platforms such as Alibaba and JD.com have largely dissolved the boundaries between online and offline," said Zalando VP of direct-to-consumer Carsten Keller in a press release. "I see the technological dynamism in the offline market as a preliminary step towards greater integration of online trading with stationary trading. We see retailers investing more and more in data networking in order to better understand their customers."

Alibaba utilizes omnichannel features to enhance the consumer’s shopping experience. Similarly to how its streamlines the retail process through the use of intelligent devices, Zalando has launched an artificial intelligence system to ease its shoppers’ use of the ecommerce platform alongside the upcoming physical store locations.

Called the Algorithmic Style Companion, Zalando has created a virtual stylist designed with an algorithm that selects ideal outfit for each customer. The styling tool is equipped “with styling expertise,” using a customer’s most recent purchases to develop and suggest outfit ideas integrating the garments the customer has already purchased.

"Customers often tell us that they find it difficult to combine items and that they appreciate it to get inspiration and fashion advice," said product manager Marta Skassa in a press release. The styling algorithm service is available to Zalando shoppers for no extra cost.

Photo: Zalando newsroom