By the end of the year, 2000 Zara locations will enroll in the ship-from-store service. The new service enables customers to order from a nearby shop and have it shipped directly.
The Inditex-owned company will have a better hold on inventory levels. "This is something very, very strategic for us, this idea of full integration between store and online stockrooms," Inditex chairman and CEO Pablo Isla told analysts in June.
The new system is expected to benefit all parties involved. Customer will likely receive the ordered items more quickly. It helps stores remain relevant with the e-commerce era. Finally, it helps Zara manage its inventory better.
Quicker delivery will be critical to help Zara keep the competition at bay. It is facing fast shipping competitors such as Asos and Amazon, which has recently been gaining weight in the apparel market.
Retailers are forced to keep up with instant fashion, with competitors like Asos and Boohoo releasing thousands of new articles every week. Companies are drowning in inventory surplus. An extreme example is H&M, with nearly 4 billion USD in unsold clothes, either being shipped to stores or hanging on clearance racks. Combining online and offline inventories should give Zara a head-start in meeting demands while limiting overstock risks.