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From Fashion to Shipping Zara Knows One Speed: Fast

Zara’s online sales are on the fast track to edge out its competition, as the Inditex-owned global retailer grows its number of warehouses to provide next-day delivery on online orders.

The fast fashion brand’s newly-opened warehouses are strategically located in Poland and Los Angeles, Calif., meaning its trend-savvy clientele in Germany, Sweden and all along the West Coast of the U.S. are now getting goods faster than ever before.

“In most of the cases now, the standard delivery is beginning to take place the day after the order, so it’s nearly a standard delivery which becomes express delivery,” Inditex CEO Pablo Isla said during a recent conference call to analysts and investors.

The company will expand its reach even further when two more warehouses in South Korea and Mexico are completed, however, regional warehousing alone does not account for Zara’s fast delivery.

Zara’s agile response to orders is led by a supply chain functioning at maximum efficiency. Twice a week, products are delivered to warehouses, mirroring consumers’ response to products. In no more than eight hours after orders for fast-selling items are received, a next round of product is ready for shipment.

Although Zara’s order and delivery process is fast, “It’s not just about speed, but about making sure that every store gets the correct shipment,” Inditex spokesman Jesus Echevarria noted.

As Isla described on the call, “It’s like opening a store without the store, only with the stockroom.”

The new reality in retailing is this: websites can be created at a significantly lower cost than setting up brick-and-mortar stores in high-trafficked areas, signing a lease and hiring reliable sales people. For this reason, Zara intends expand its e-commerce business, which currently serves 21 European countries, China, the U.S. and Japan, to include Mexico and South Korea this September.

Spain-based Inditex still operates nearly 6,400 retail stores. Zara accounts for more than 1,900 of those stores worldwide, including a 55,000-square-foot flagship store in Hong Kong. The benefits of Zara’s online sales and next-day delivery should also extend to some of its other brands, including Massimo Dutti, Oysho and Uterque, all of which the company plans to market more vigorously in hopes of boosting sales.