Assessing Zalando in the Discovery Phase for a New Digital Tool to Save 1.5M€ in the Product Quality and Safety Department

The Client: Zalando

The European Star of E-Commerce

👗 Founded in 2008, Zalando SE is a German multi-national E-commerce company headquartered in Berlin, Germany; it also has tech hubs in Dublin, Ireland; Dortmund, Germany, and Helsinki, Finland.

The company follows a platform approach, offering fashion and lifestyle products to customers in 23 European markets.

Zalando has raised $615.9M in funding over 8 rounds. Their latest funding was raised on Nov 11, 2013, from a Private Equity round. Zalando is registered under the ticker ETR:ZAL since the 2014 IPO.

A snapshot of Zalando’s Website - The Outfits in the Women’s section

The Mission: Interim Product Manager

Product Quality and Safety (PQS) is a very important department with high legal, compliance, and customer risks involved throughout the process. Zalando saw a 5x increase in product recalls from 2018 to 2020 due to Product Quality and Safety (PQS) Issues. The reasons are as follows:

  • High human effort and manual processes involved in Product Quality and Safety (PQS) processes contributed to errors and resulted in missed inspections.
  • Data is scattered and stored as Google sheets and Excel files. This leads to inefficient data management and decision-making, missed inspections, and lost data.
  • Several digital tools are used for various processes that don’t talk to each other and are used by different teams. These teams have to go through a lot of back-and-forth communication to solve issues and streamline decision-making.

Given the above context, Zalando wanted to develop a new digital tool for Product Quality and Safety (PQS) since there was a huge potential of saving around 1.5M Eur yearly by changing the current testing processes and adopting the new digital tool.  This complex Product Discovery project involved 7+ departments and around 20+ stakeholders. Product People’s team of Product Managers provided rigorous Product Discovery outcomes to Zalando and set the foundation for the engineering team to develop the new Product Quality and Safety (PQS) digital tool.

The duration of the mission was three months, from January 2022 to March 2022

How We Helped

Onboarded Very Fast

The basic foundation for the project was laid out a year before Product People started consulting Zalando. The project was not moving forward due to a lack of bandwidth, the right resources, and siloed knowledge spread among various teams. There was an immediate sense of urgency from the Product Quality and Safety teams to have this new tool ready to improve efficiency, save costs and take project management to the next level. Product People’s Product Managers were onboarded quickly and provided high-impact outcomes from the first month.

First deliverables within the first month:

  1. Mapped out a detailed process flow for Product Quality and Safety (PQS) department that served as the core reference document for 7+ departments involved within the company. We managed to jot down the knowledge from various departments and documents into one user flow diagram in a span of 3 weeks.
  2. Developed a PQS Data Schema document that gave the engineering and product team a clear idea of how the data is exchanged and what data points are involved within the PQS process.
  3. Interviewed 15+ Zalando employees and went through a large amount of internal documentation to deliver the above documents concisely with relevant outcomes

Delivered Outcomes

Notable outcomes we've delivered in our three months:

💡 Mapped out the complete Product Quality and Safety (PQS) process flow within the Private Label (PL) and Wholesale (WHS) business unit by talking to various stakeholders.
💡 Created a PQS Data Schema to understand which data should be available and how the data is transferred for the “PQS digital tool” to support the improved processes.
💡 Created a “Materials Database MVP” and a “Materials Database Proposal Document” for the Engineering Team and validated them with stakeholders. This would serve as a cornerstone for the new PQS digital tool.
💡 Created, validated with stakeholders plus engineers and prioritized a “List of features for Materials Database” to support Engineering in creating a Materials Database Proof of Concept (PoC).

In the Client's Own Words

Space Crew of this Mission

Viktoria Korzhova
Viktoria Korzhova
Fractional CPO / VP Product
Product Manager Consultant
Product Manager Consultant
Associate Product Manager Consultant
Associate Product Manager Consultant

For Clients: When to Hire Us

You can hire us as an Interim/Freelance Product Manager or Product Owner

It takes, on average, three to nine months to find the right Product Manager to hire as a full-time employee. In the meantime, someone needs to fill in the void: drive cross-functional initiatives, decide what is worth building, and help the development team deliver the best outcomes.
If you're looking for a great Product Manager / Product Owner to join your team ASAP, Product People is a good plug-and-play solution to bridge the gap.