Zalando is Europe’s leading online fashion store, with over 29 million active customers in 17 countries. The creation of marketing activities is a crucial part of Zalando's business, since the more content is created, the better it can be targeted at specific users, who will receive recommendations that are more relevant for them.
Inspirational and marketing content for Zalando used to be created using a mix of 8 different tools, ranging from custom internal applications to large complex spreadsheets that had to be updated manually every week and then shared with the team. Processes were cumbersome and very manual, slowing down collaboration and making it painfully slow to fix mistakes - especially troublesome when a problem was spotted on content that was already live.
I was the lead designer in Zalando's Parterships team. Working in a pair with another designer, I established a user-centred practice and ran the whole design process, from planning and running user research, to producing the final UI and working with the developers on implementation. We were collaborating closely with the engineering team and two product owners who looked after different areas of the Platform. The team was located between Lisbon and Berlin.
At the very beginning of the project, I got buy-in from the stakeholders to run the project following a user-centred method, which was a first for the Partnerships team. This way, we got to run extensive user research throughout the process, so we could understand our users, get feedback from them, and quickly iterate on our designs. Every 7-10 days, the design team would playback the status of the project to representatives of product, engineering and other stakeholders, to make sure everyone was always on the same page and key decisions could be taken together. This approach was crucial in shaping the product strategy for the Business Platform.
Over the course of the project, we built a centralised tool that allows Zalando's marketing team, fashion brands and influencers to create:
For each of these workstreams, we had a consistent vision of enabling users to collaborate through an experience that was cohesive, flexible and transparent. We reduced the amount of required steps and data, empowering asynchronous collaboration and solving problems that the marketing team had had for years. We set up experience-based roadmaps for each workstream, to guarantee that the MVP brought value to our users, and that we could then grow the Business Platform in a consistent and sustainable way, always informed by user research.
Another key part of this project was the collaboration with the designers who looked after the Zalando Design System, which we expanded to support our productivity use cases while ensuring consistency.
Focusing on the users paid off. Having the marketing team collaborating with influencers and brands in a centralised platform made the campaign creation process 140% faster, and the user-centred method helped us achieve a 66% increase in user satisfaction in our digital marketing tools. For the first time ever, Zalando's marketing team felt like the tools that were being built for them successfully solved their problems, and many of the colleagues we interviewed became evangelists of the Business Platforms with their peers. Thanks also to the content created via the Business Platform, Zalando's Cyber Week sales increased by 32% compared to the previous year, reaching 7,200 orders per minute at peak times.