- From zero to Europe in less than six years: How do you approach building a logistics network?
SCHRÖDER: Like we would approach almost anything: By starting small and working our way up step-by-step. We’d already gathered some experience at our first service provider’s fulfillment center, where we took over part of the process starting at the end of 2010. This testing phase was very important for us, also because it helped us decide whether we really could create a competitive advantage by doing fulfillment ourselves.
- And then you opened the first site of your own…
SCHRÖDER: Yes, in Brieselang in 2011. We started by using external logistics software so that we could focus on the operating processes first.
The opening in Erfurt followed in 2012 and was the step associated with the greatest risk: It had four times the capacity of our main fulfillment center up to that point, a EUR 100 million investment – and we wanted to go online with our logistics system ZALOS, which we developed in-house.
- Did it have to be a system developed in-house?
SCHRÖDER: Two things have to be just right in logistics: The people and the system. We wanted to be able to make changes fast and independently. You can’t do that with external software. Today, we are still constantly adjusting the system to meet the latest demands.
- Tell us a bit about the future: What are the next steps in logistics at Zalando?
SCHRÖDER: We will move on to expand our hub and spoke network. In Poland, we have started construction on our next larger fulfillment center in Gryfino, which will serve all 15 markets. In addition to that, we will add smaller sites in individual countries to supplement our main fulfillment centers. That’s already worked well with our spoke in Stradella: Delivery time has been cut by 1.5 days for our Italian customers – and we are seeing that they are also buying more. The model has been a success that we now plan to replicate in other markets such as France, too.