What is Connected Retail?

All you need to know about Zalando’s online integration of physical stores

Connecting online and physical retail has long been important in the fashion industry; even more so since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Connected Retail is Zalando’s solution that enables brick-and-mortar stores to serve customers on the Zalando platform. The program counts more than 5,000 active stores, selling to millions of Zalando customers online. Learn more about Connected Retail and the solutions it offers here.

Connected Retail – Explained by Carsten Keller

How it works: Local stores sell to millions of Zalando customers online

Infographic showing the connected retail process

The Challenges and Opportunities of Stationary Retail

Many customers have changed their shopping behavior during the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in drastically decreased footfall, or non at all, for physical stores. For brands, who often run multiple physical stores, keeping each of them profitable has become challenging. To overcome these challenges, we need to come together as an industry and innovate in more traditional business areas such as physical retail.

Connected Retail helps Zalando partners drive productivity by forwarding Zalando customer orders to their owned or franchised brick-and-mortar stores. Participating stores ship items specified in the order and book the corresponding revenues and profits. This is done with the help of simple, easy-to-use and free of charge tools.

Today, Connected Retail is available in twelve countries for all retailers and brands that have one or more physical stores: Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Spain, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Austria, France, Belgium and Switzerland. Italy will follow over the course of 2021. These are the main benefits for brands and retailers:


  • Support during the coronavirus crisis

In order to support our peers in the fashion industry while footfall is impacted drastically by the pandemic, Zalando is waiving commission fees for all new and existing Connected Retail partners. Revenues are also currently being paid out on a weekly basis to assist with cash flow. These additional offers are in place until the end of Q1 2021.

  • Easy connectivity

Everything digital is taken care of by us. We provide the content, customer care, payment operations, marketing, platform and infrastructure (such as our software). Connected Retail also comes without outlay costs or expensive system integration. Stores need only set up an automated export from its Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. The model is essentially risk-free for participating stores, as all costs are variable. Commission is only paid for completed (and non-returned) transactions, and stores fully control article prices, capacity (i.e., number of orders per day) and assortment sold on Zalando at all times.

  • Higher sales, higher profits

By connecting physical stock to the Zalando platform, partners can greatly increase sales and profits per square meter. Some of our best performing stores are seeing up to 60 percent incremental Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) on top of their regular topline. At the same time, the number of orders for participating retail partners continues to increase significantly; on average 20 orders per store per day.

  • Higher footfall

Besides higher space productivity from Connected Retail transactions, we will also generate physical traffic for the stores. We are aiming to roll out click-and-collect and return-in-store schemes going forward, which will effectively bring Zalando customers to high street stores. Moreover, Connected Retail will also provide transparency over local stock availability. As a result, customers can click-and-reserve items before they hit the high street and enjoy expert in-shop assistance while in store.  


  • Fast, green delivery

In leveraging our network for speedy deliveries from stores in major cities, we will help ensure an unmatched convenience experience for our customers, while improving Zalando’s current same-day delivery proposition through later cut-off times. Customers are also increasingly aware of the impact of their choices on the environment. Visibility of the inventory allows customers to choose not only the easiest option but also the most sustainable access to the product by choosing the store closest to them. Zalando is also carbon neutral in its own operations and all deliveries and returns.

Connected Retail creates a win-win-win situation

Infographic showing the advantages of the connected retail process

FAQ: 7 Answers to Common Connected Retail Questions

How to join Connected Retail

To get started, stores go through a simple onboarding process that enables the Zalando platform to see store stock levels. Once connected, shop assistants log in to the Connected Retail tool via a standard web browser where they will find orders from Zalando customers. Store staff then pick and pack the order, and the system automatically notifies the carrier and prints delivery documents. The store staff member then hands over the labeled parcel to the carrier who delivers it to the customer. The customer can then either keep their order or return it via the carrier. In the near future, they will be able to return the parcel in store. The processing of orders is straightforward and does not require any technical knowledge. In the store, transactions are booked in the Point-of-Sale system; just like a transaction in the store. As always, Zalando handles the payment process, meaning customers pay us, and we transfer these revenues to the store, weekly and commission free until the end of Q1 2021. After this, reduced commission fees below market standard will apply.

Want to get on board?

If you are interested in joining the Zalando platform with your store(s) via Connected Retail reach out to connected.retail@zalando.de.

Convenience News

Our three German logistics centers celebrate their birthdays in August

Zalando branded paper bag

New packaging brings Zalando one step closer to its goal of eliminating single-use plastic by 2023.

Enhanced hygiene measures in place and more than 100,000 tests for COVID-19 carried out to protect employees who cannot work from home

Zalando’s Connected Retail program supports thousands of shop owners during the coronavirus crisis