Today’s interview is with Delphine Mousseau, VP Markets at the fashion online retailer, Zalando, a very successful ecommerce company based in Berlin that sells shoes, clothing and other fashion items in 15 different countries across Europe. Delphine joins me today to talk customer service, what that means for Zalando, how they are using that to help them stand out and what they have learned about different customers in different countries.
This interview follows on from my recent interview – Having a great product without great support doesn’t mean anything – Interview with Sarah Metcalfe of SureFlap – and is number 176 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to their customers.
Here’s the highlights of my interview with Delphine:
- Delphine manages the 15 countries that Zalando operates in.
- Big shout out to Minter Dial who introduced me to Delphine and interviewed her for his podcast.
- Much of the talk about great service and experience seems to be coming out of the US and the UK.
- In America there seems to be a trend, in service terms, to push people into online channels as well as the use of fast/same day delivery.
- This is being successful but many markets in Europe are not that mature and there are still a lot of things to do at the local level around things like payment and delivery methods and preferences.
- Delphine cites some examples:
- In the Nordics, people always tend to arrange delivery from a pick up point rather than to their homes.
- In Italy, 29% of people do not have a bank account so Zalando now offers cash on delivery to cater for the needs of those customers. This, in turn, had a huge impact on their conversion rate.
- Also, in Italy, Zalando found that people there do not like to return items as they believe it is going back on the agreement that they had with a firm/brand. However, in fashion retail you have to let people return things, particularly when they don’t fit, so Zalando put together an educational TV piece to help their Italian customers understand and get comfortable with the idea of returning items.
- Zalando has a comment box at their checkout and customers in France told them that they did not like that their credit card numbers would be stored. This is because they still a degree of anxiety around security concerns.
- It’s all about iterative improvements and that the smallest changes can have the biggest impact.
- However, given all of the differences that exist across the 15 markets that Zalando operates in and to reduce organisational and operational complexity they cluster their markets by online maturity and their ability to retain customers in those markets to make things easier.
- Italy and Spain tend to display the same behaviours and preferences i.e. they are comfortable with the internet and especially social media but still have reservations about ecommerce. Therefore, Zalando has to educate and nurture customers in these countries in the ways and means of ecommerce.
- Germany, Austria and Switzerland have the same kind of patterns i.e. they prefer to pay on invoice, they have a stronger return rate as they are more used to mail order and are, thus, more comfortable with ecommerce.
- Across all of their countries, though, they are seeing a big growth in mobile traffic and 60% of all of their traffic comes from mobile.
- Zalando’s mobile app is also very popular and they see that people that have their app tend to interact more with them and are more loyal. That leads Zalando to interact much more with them on a deeper level as well as creating fun, inspirational and interactive content for them which helps them build their understanding and the relationships they have with their customers.
- In the UK where Zalando is less known they put their phone number at the top left of their website to show that they are easily contactable but, also, to build trust.
- The phone is a central part of their customer service strategy across the 15 countries that they operate in and shows that Zalando will do whatever it takes to help the customer.
- However, they have worked hard on their self-service options and their first contact resolution rate such that as sales have increased the number of requests for help in their contact centre has not grown.
- Zalando offers a 100 day return policy as it helps them develop trust with their customers and helps encourage new customers try them out.
- This same is true for their free delivery and returns policy.
- They have found that very few people try to abuse these policies.
- One of the funniest situations happened when a customer wanted to return an item, they packed it all up and sent it back but didn’t notice that they had also packed up their hamster and sent to Zalando.
- One of the key challenges going forward for Zalando is that whilst they want to grow the number of items they offer they also have to make that easily navigable. They see personalisation and localisation as a big key to help with that.
- Another challenge is pursuing a frictionless experience, particularly around delivery and returns, as well as their refund process.
- Finally, Zalando is keen also to develop their own point of view around fashion (via content – website and in-app) to help further develop the conversations, interactivity and relationships they have with their customers.
- Ultimately, they want everyone to have a different Zalando experience that is tailored to their needs, size, body shape, price level, style and other preferences. This works and applies to both products and content.
- Looking at local needs is really going to help improve conversion and retention rates.
- Berlin is a very cool place and, so, if you have any talent around fashion, tech or commercial retail operations then check out the jobs that Zalando are trying to fill.
Delphine Mousseau is VP Markets at the fashion online retailer, Zalando and leads their operations and localisation efforts across 15 European countries. Zalando is a German ecommerce success story, has nearly 10,000 employees from over 100 different nations, generated revenue of Euro3billion in 2015 and is profitable.
You can check out all of the countries that Zalando operates in at www.zalado.com. You can also connect with Delphine on LinkedIn here and do say Hi to her and the folks at Zalando on Twitter @delphmousseau and @Zalando.