How Europe’s Largest Online Fashion Retailer – Zalando – is Navigating the Covid-19 Crisis

Read time: 4 mins
Zalando Purse, a Scarf and a Watch

Every industry faces unique challenges in these uncertain times. For online retailers, ensuring customer orders are fulfilled while keeping the business running smoothly – and safely – is the top priority.

Zalando, Europe’s largest online fashion retailer (and member of our global community of Spendsetters) is facing this challenge with a proactive approach, aided by digitization. Alejandro Basterrechea, the e-retailer’s head of procurement, recently shared his company’s story of rapidly adjusting to meet new business needs on our Procurement Leaders’ Coronavirus Webinar Series.

Impact of Coronavirus: How Procurement Can Lead in Times of Crisis
On the webinar Alejandro shares how his procurement team has stepped up to the challenge. Supporting all aspects of Zalando’s strategic response plan to the coronavirus and its business impacts, the procurement team is focused on ensuring employee safety and business continuity, managing risk, and identifying new opportunities for business resilience. This has involved procuring PPE for employee safety, driving cost containment for indirect spend, and protecting cash and EBIT – all while providing continuous visibility into execution and impact.

Health and Safety Comes First: Sourcing PPE
Zalando’s leadership team immediately recognized that the health and safety of their employees, partners, and anyone else who's working in their offices come first, even before business continuity. With digital strategic sourcing technology, Zalando was able to quickly source and purchase the PPE needed to ensure workplace safety for employees who had to be in an office or warehouse or shipping center, those who couldn’t shift to working remotely from home.

Shifting to a Predominantly Remote Workforce: A Surprise Efficiency Twist
The prior digitization of Zalando’s entire procure-to-pay processes enabled most employees to shift to working remotely without significant disruption to purchasing operations. In some cases, this has accelerated process optimization like requiring suppliers to submit invoices electronically, since offices were not open to manually scan paper invoices. 

Digitization’s #1 Value in Times of Crisis: Spend Visibility and Cost Control
With full visibility into indirect spending due to moving the organization’s P2P processes to a digital business spend management platform, Alejandro and his team were able to quickly provide strategic advice on reducing unnecessary costs, like those associated with daily maintenance of physical offices while employees were working from home. The team also was able to rapidly assess control mechanisms and reconfigure approval thresholds in less than an hour.

With all of Zalando’s strategic response tactics – from sourcing PPE to enacting new cost controls – Coupa’s business spend management platform supported rapid adjustments to reduce costs, mitigate risk, and increase agility in order to respond quickly to supply chain disruption

"Coupa plays a significant role in each of our COVID-19 response priorities and makes it easy to respond quickly in an uncertain and ever-changing environment,” Alejandro said. “With Coupa, we have full transparency into spending. Most importantly, with Coupa we can track and measure what’s going on and make continuous adjustments and improvements.”

Crisis Time is the Time for Procurement to Lead
Alejandro sees this time as an opportunity for procurement to lead their companies in navigating today's challenges and building business resiliency for the future. Through his efforts, procurement has taken center stage at Zalando, and now, more than ever, Alejandro is seen as a strategic advisor helping business leaders navigate the uncertainty faced today while preparing to thrive in the future.

Watch the Full Webinar Now
Learn more about how Zalando is navigating through the different phases of the crisis by enabling their remote procurement function to remain agile during the crisis while providing stakeholders with insights that drive greater business resilience.