An Introduction into Mobile at Zalando Technology

by Carsten Ernst - 27 Mar 2013

In the past four years, Zalando has experienced extremely rapid growth, becoming one of Europe’s largest online fashion shops. During this period, the German market has seen a similar increase in the usage of Internet on mobile devices. In 2008 around 3.2 million German mobile users were using their devices to surf the net. By 2011 this number soared almost 1000 percent to 30 million users. In response to this new market, Zalando is now available to mobile users via our user-friendly mobile platform, offering customers the perfect mobile shopping experience.

Second Screen more popular than ever

The term "Second Screen" is used to describe the practice of using a smart phone or tablet at the same time as watching TV. Our statistics suggest that second screeners often do some shopping on our site after seeing one of our ads on TV.

And since service is our top priority, we launched a mobile website in 2011 to supplement our online shop. On our mobile site, customers can comfortably shop from their smart phones, no matter where they are. The number of visits to the mobile shop increased threefold within a year and now accounts for 25 percent of all visits. Today, 1 out of every 10 Euros spent on Zalando is from an order placed on the mobile site. This upward trend shows no signs of slowing.

No one is shocked by the success of mobile Internet. In order to give a solid technical base for mobile shopping, the platform and mobile apps must be linked securely. We have therefore developed a rating based on a Spring MVC REST API that ensures secure communication between our platform and mobile apps. To ensure consistently high quality throughout the software life cycle, we focus on continuous delivery using Jenkins, manage our source code in Git and build our apps with the build tool Gradle.

Screen shot of the Zalando app Screen shot of the Zalando app Screen shot of the Zalando app

Apple App Store, Google Play, Windows Store

After the completion of the Mobile-API, we launched the Zalando tablet app for Windows 8 by the end of October 2012 – to coincide with the launch Microsoft’s new operating system for desktops and tablets.

Of course we can’t stop with Windows, so parallel to this launch we’ll continue working on our iPhone app, which has been available in the Apple Apps Store since December 2012. The high, pent-up demand for our iPhone app amongst the loyal iPhone user base was clear from the start. After a few days, the app topped the "Lifestyle" category in the Apple Apps Store.

At the same time, we are now working hard to finalise the app for Android smart phones, so that Android users can also enjoy the seamless shopping experience.

In order to offer the same high quality and security as well as the trademark look and feel of Zalando, we keep a firm eye on the design and development of our apps. Our Product Management works closely with the IT Security Team and the Usability Experts from our Onsite Innovation Team. The mobile developers are brought in to work on these projects at a very early stage, to ensure that we create the best apps for our users.

Screen shot of Win8 app Screen shot of Win8 app Screen shot of Win8 app

What’s next?

There is still a lot to do, but our calendars are filling up. Alongside the ongoing optimisation of our Mobile API, both the apps and our mobile website will receive regular updates. This process will allow users’ wishes to be implemented as well as allowing us to roll out functions that are already used by millions of satisfied customers of our online shop.

In addition, the native device functions such as the acceleration sensor, GPS, camera, etc., offer many possibilities for innovation. These features can be harnessed to further improve the Zalando shopping experience, making it more exciting and more secure.

The mobile revolution is here. And it’s really something to get excited about!

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