The Strategic Retail Genius Behind Zara

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Grabbing the Globe by the Purse

Zara stores have been popping up all over, literally. This past year aggressive expansion saw Inditex investing in 49 markets. Five of them were new to the brand and included Australia, Taiwan, Azerbaijan, South Africa and Peru. The company continued to grow its presence in China which had 132 new stores throw open their doors. 30 those were Zara locations and others were Inditex concepts, Oysho and Zara Home bringing the total number of Inditex stores there to 275. Worldwide Inditex is in 80 countries with more than 5,500 stores and eight retail formats.

The thing about global expansion is that its tricky business. Even with a recognizable brand name like Zara, companies must understand and sell to local customers (and customs). Part of Inditex’s success lies in the execution of tailored retail strategies. The company reports that not only did it seek out prime real estate along established shopping corridors (hello Zara flagship on Fifth Avenue in NYC), it also changed up its retail strategy to cater to the different seasons in markets in the Southern Hemisphere. Custom weather-appropriate collections debuted in stores in Sydney, Melbourne, Johannesburg and Lima.

But perhaps the smartest move was to break virtual ground in e-commerce for all its concepts in September 2011. Eager shoppers could now order Inditex apparel and accessories online in U.S., Europe and Japan while that other retail juggernaut H&M continues to keep devotees waiting.

Smart Supply Chain

You see this more often than not in discount fast fashion chains: the label that says the garment was made in China or some other Asian country. It’s not surprising, considering that labor is still more affordable than in Europe or the U.S. But fast fashion by nature must capitalize on trends which come and go quicker than a girl can wrap a scarf around her neck. As the Economist reports: “managing a long supply chain is hard. By the time a boat has sailed halfway round the world, hemlines may have risen an inch and its cargo will be as popular as geriatric haddock.”

Inditex employs a counterintuitive strategy by sourcing more than half its goods from its home country as well as neighboring Portugal and Morocco. It may cost more up front but it saves markdowns on items that have fallen off the trend wagon.

Bottom Line: Quality

The apparel may be cheap (well, relative to designer goods anyway) but that doesn’t mean that Inditex merchandise looks or feels cheap. As a long-time Zara shopper (I remember when the store opened on Lexington Avenue in the 90s) I have never seen the chain turn out cheap threads. A jacket I purchased in 1995 (and still own) was constructed to last and looks as good as the one I got last week.

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Created by : Stefani(group 3)

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One thought on “The Strategic Retail Genius Behind Zara

  1. Jessica Wijaya says:

    Great article….

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