- Zara last week opened a nearly 200 square-meter (656 feet) pop-up shop in Westfield's Stratford shopping center in London dedicated to e-commerce.
- The space is designed to foster online sales and returns, and will run while the brand refurbishes a full-line store elsewhere in the mall, due to re-open in May, according to a company press release.
- The store is staffed with associates who assist with orders, which when placed before 2:00 pm can be delivered the same day, the company said.
Zara's new Westfield Stratford store sounds a lot like Bonobos' "guideshops" and Nordstrom's merchandise-free concept, which opened late last year in West Hollywood, CA. Those locations don’t have inventory for purchase, but allow customers to check out and try on garments prior to ordering them online. That form of shopping is becoming more popular, with Simon Property Group launching "The Edit" at the Roosevelt Field mall on Long Island and GGP's Chicago-based Water Tower Place, both of which feature opportunities for shoppers to buy from pure-play e-commerce retailers.
While the space is a pop-up and thus temporary, the idea appears to be permanent. The new store at the same shopping center, which is being enlarged to 4,500 square meters (14,763 feet), will be the first Zara location in the world to offer four sections. In addition to its usual women's, men's and kids' areas, Zara is dedicating space for the collection of online orders.
Enhancements to the space also include more natural light for comfort, aesthetics and energy efficiency. But customers won't see a lot of changes at the location. The new store will feature an automated online order collection point, serviced by two small warehouses that will enable customers to pick up online purchases "whenever it suits them," the company said. That system employs an optical barcode reader where users can scan a QR code or enter a PIN they received when they placed their order online. In store, customers can pay using their mobile phones, via the Zara app or the Inditex Group app, InWallet, and there will also be a self-checkout area as well as regular cashier desks.
While, like Nordstrom's California store, the concept seems radical, the push to facilitate online orders doesn't mark any fundamental departure for the brand, according to Pablo Isla, chairman and CEO of Zara owner Inditex. Rather, both approaches are relevant, and the new store is one evolution within the company's ongoing innovation effort. It's "another milestone in our strategy of integrating our stores with the online world, which defines our identity as a business," Isla said in a statement.