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Zara - Zesty

 

  Zara - Zesty
Zara
Zesty
by Vivian Manning-Schaffel
August 23, 2004

Trendy clothing brand Zara is known around the world for dressing men, women and children in a sexy retail environment that feels a lot more expensive and exclusive than it is. Truly a global brand, Zara has hundreds of retail locations everywhere from Abu Dhabi to Uruguay and is the largest division of Inditex, one of the largest fashion retail groups worldwide.

 
The clothing brand has spread its high-fashion/low-cost brand message far and wide by establishing some unique, yet effective practices. Shunning expensive glossy ad campaigns and celebrity endorsements in favor of location, location, location, Zara strategically opens stores in heavily trafficked, high-end retail areas where a taste for trends are whet and wallets are wide open.

 
 
Zara - Zesty Another important factor in the Zara brand success story is consistency in who’s running the show. Approximately 92 percent of all six-hundred-fifty-something locations are owned entirely by Zara, allowing for greater control over the brand’s execution strategy. Also, the ability to produce over half of its own product enables Zara to churn out new clothing lines every few weeks, keeping prices low and product in step with the most current trends. We visited Zara.com to see if the web space evoked the same glam environment and up-to-the-minute sense of fashion as the stores.

Built around a sophisticated sense of site structure, Zara.com is in keeping with the brand’s goal to drive traffic to retail locations. Visually, the site achieves a feel as stylish and modern as the brand’s product in look and functionality. Users are able to download Flash and view the site in English or in Spanish, the brand’s home language. A festive splash page features a colorfully illustrated, almost psychedelic background with a requisite model posed in front. The site loads quickly and plays a sultry mix of drum and bass music (with the ability to choose from three selections and an “off” button—a plus), similar to what’s playing in Zara’s retail locations, adding a consistent soundtrack to the brand experience.

The home page, branded with the season’s message, “Get into the flow…get cool,” is dedicated to promoting Zara’s latest line of clothing and features snippets of information about store openings. One big glitch on this page is that it isn’t fully visible on all browsers. Embedded links under the section titles would also help improve traffic flow to each featured area.

The clothing arena is where Zara.com most needs to shine—and does. The Showroom area is a great example of superior clothing retail branding and execution online. Clickable symbols representing each product line direct users to preferred location. Crisp photos allow consumers to truly get a good look at the products. A click on each thumbnail shows a larger product shot and provides detailed product information—right down to suggested retail price. Visitors are unable to purchase Zara clothing or products online but this is in line with the brand’s strategy, which encourages users to make the pilgrimage to the store for a live experience. In addition, Zara’s seasonal catalog is viewable online in its entirety and can be easily downloaded.

The Customer Service area is free of frills but successfully augments the live retail experience. In keeping with the goal of providing users with a taste of the retail experience, the site features photographs of many Zara storefronts as well as a virtual visit function, giving users a glimpse into the store. Garment care information is provided—an important detail most retail clothing sites overlook. The Stores area also works well, which is key to a brand with so many locations. Pull-down menus power the store locator function, offering visitors easy access to the details they seek, further encouraging store visits.

All in all, the site provides a strong representation of the brand. Like its stores, Zara.com has a great look, strong on design and ultimately functional without skimping on quality. Other than working out the major browser kink, the site succeeds in its goal to provide users with a complete simulation of the brand experience. As Zara has successfully proven in business, providing visitors with a sophisticated atmosphere allows the product to ultimately sell itself.

 

Vivian Manning-Schaffel is a freelance writer who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

     
*Due to the constantly changing environment of websites, some reviews may no longer reflect the current website for this brand.
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