Zara stores have become part of the urban panorama of the main capital cities around the world, and London is certainly not an exception. With 18 stores just in Greater London, four of them are located in Oxford Street: one of London’s most popular streets for shopping, Zara covers the needs of the fashion capital.
Since its first opening in the United Kingdom in 1998, Zara has expanded its brand throughout the country, currently operating 64 stores. The last reported figures indicate that sales went up 10 percent year-on-year from £704.8 million to £772.5 million.
What most people don’t know is the story behind this grand empire with more than 2,000 stores all over the world and presence in 96 different countries. Zara didn’t just drastically change the textile industry in Spain, it also did around the world.
What’s the reason for its global success?
In the past, trends weren’t as accessible to ordinary people as they are nowadays. Stores used to take a long time to bring fashion trends to consumers and by the time it was available, customers were already interested in other different styles.
Even though it sounds simple, it seems that none noticed it before. The key factor of Zara’s success was to reduce the waiting time for customers, and give them what they wanted when they wanted.
This is what Zara’s founder, Amancio Ortega, called “instant fashion”, a concept that meant to renovate Zara’s collections each week rather than every three months, like most parts of the companies used to do. This leads into an infinite variety of pieces that at the same time invites consumers to buy more in a shorter time-lapse.
High-couture inspired fashion at affordable prices
There’s no doubt that the key to Zara’s success lies in its ability to take the trends of the most relevant catwalks to the street. And how you get that? Setting affordable prices. From celebrities to royals, nobody, or almost nobody can resist Zara’s charm.
Some examples of it are Queen Rania of Jordan, Sienna Miller or Pippa Middleton, who have been photographed wearing clothes from the brand.
Flagship stores around the world
The flagship stores of the brand are distributed worldwide in premium shopping areas, for example, the Champs Elysées in Paris, Preciados Street in Madrid or Oxford Street in London.
London, chosen to lead the way to a new digital store concept
Last year, the brand opened its most modern flagship store in Westfield Stratford City, pioneering a new digital store concept.
With almost 50.000 square feet, the store located in East London is the first Zara’s store in the world that incorporates four shopping sections, apart from the traditional women, men and kids, it has a fourth one dedicated to online purchases.
The store features interactive mirrors with RFID (radio frequency identification) which can identify an item you are holding and make outfits suggestions in the mirror.
Among other innovations, the store also has an automatized point to allow customers to collect items bought online in a few seconds. This is possible thanks to a dynamic robot that has the capacity to manage up to 2.400 packages at the same time.
Apart from the conventional payment system, it is possible to make purchases through the app of the brand, InWallet group or by using self-service tills to short the payment process.
This system permits customers to keep their purchases tickets on their mobile phones to meet the plans of the eco-efficient stores’ project that the brand takes part in, which is expected to be accomplished by 2020.
Zara’s store in Stratford City also incorporates advances in the matter of emission reduction and energy-saving systems.
Facts about the brand that you probably don’t know
- The origin of the brand is Spanish
- Despite its fresh and casual look, Zara is 45 years old already. Its first store opened in 1975 in La Acoruña, (Galicia, España).
- In the beginning, it focused on women wear, years later they included men and kids sections as well as different design lines according to ages as “Trafaluc” or “Join Life”.
- The founder of Zara, Amancio Ortega, led the ranking of the biggest fortunes in 2016 with over 70.000 million dollars disputing first place with Bill Gates. It wasn’t the first time, in 2015 he turned into the richest man in the world for a few hours.
- Zara is part of the biggest retail chain in the world called Inditex. The company operates seven other brands, Pull&Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Stradivarius, Oysho, Zara Home and Uterqüe.
Despite some brands of the firm not having arrived yet to the United Kingdom, Inditex is planning to open more Zara stores in the UK “as opportunities arise”. The groups net profit also reached a new record of €1.6 billion for the half-period of 2019.
Words: Paula Mantilla
Images: Paula Mantilla