The reopening of  Zara’s flagship store in London’s Westfield Stratford Mall last week marked the beginning of a small retail revolution: for the first time, Inditex successfully integrated a fourth department – online – into a store alongside women, men and children. Thanks to a fully automated in-store system, 2,400 orders can be handled simultaneously. For the first time, customers are able to use the self-checkout function and receive information about products via Connected Mirror.

Inditex is the leader of digital touch-point and back-office solutions. The Spanish company has installed RFID all the way from production to the store, installing comprehensive Digital Signage solutions in all 2200 stores, and now also integrating ‘seamless on- and offline’ in stores. Inditex comes closest to the often praised – yet barely realised – omnichannel strategy.

The reopened flagship (4500 m²) in London’s infamous Westfield Stratford shopping centre is the first Zara store with integrated robot controlled warehouse, digital pick-up terminals and self-checkouts. These individual elements were put to the test in recent months at a branch near the company’s headquarters in Coruna, Spain. invidis was on site to take a closer look.

The Stratford store is the first Zara store in the world to have a dedicated online collection department – a department that holds equal status to the existing three departments (ladies, men and children). In the new fourth department, two kiosk terminals have been installed acting as automated online order collection points. The goods are automatically delivered from the Zara store integrated Nahlager. The warehouse capacity is able to deal with 2,400 orders simultaneously, which are placed through Zara’s eCommerce platforms.

Online customers identify themselves with a QR code or PIN generated at the kiosk terminal during the nine order process. Within seconds, the logistics robot has already collected the ordered products and packs them together in a size-optimised manner. The advantage for customers is that online orders up to 2PM can be picked up on the same day and tried on directly in the store. Should the customer decide against purchasing a particular garment, the products are placed immediately back in-store for sale.

All of Zara’s new service initiatives are designed to deliver a seamless, convenient and, above all, enjoyable shopping experience for the customer. Other Digital Signage installations include display-based interactive mirrors that use RFID to identify the particular garments selected by the customer. On the basis of customer choices, the system is able to make recommendations and suggestions for suitable clothing and accessories. The ‘complete style’ is displayed in the mirror display to the customer.

Another small revolution can be found at the checkout lines. Zara employees are equipped with iPads, allowing them to advise customers directly on the shelf and make app-based payments. Zara and the Inditex group have developed two apps for this purpose. While the checkout area is still available for cash and card payments, the first self-checkout terminals were introduced this week. The key advantage with the Zara shopping experience is that all garments are equipped with RFID tags, meaning that the products do not have to be individually scanned by the customer at the self-checkout. Despite this, each garment still has to be routed individually to the self-checkouts for the removal of the security tag over the sensor surface.

It’s interesting to note that the new Zara flagship in the British capital has no window displays. The entire store is open-plan and thus provides full insight into the retail architecture and current collections.

This spring, Zara also attracted a lot of attention with an augmented reality app, which made Zara products available via AR for 14 days (a collection cycle) in 120 flagship stores worldwide. In contrast to this elaborate AR campaign, however, the new Zara store concept is scalable and will be realised in other flagships in the near future.

Also noteworthy are the 86 new Digital Signage installations which accompany key products. Up until now, Zara has focused on Digital Signage on large wall mounted LED screens in the cash register area and throughout the store, often curved LED around columns.


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