Zalando wants to enter the American market somewhere next year: a hundred-strong team and billions of dollars have been made available to prepare the launch in silence.
To the rich north-east
The top secret project, supposedly called Project Kangaroo, is the brain-child of Zalando’s new CEO, American Jim Freeman. Even the name is a sly diversion – or a geographical blunder – because the German fashion platform is not expanding to Australia, but to the United States. A team of more than 100 people is said to be working in secret on a plan to launch in the United States in 2023.
Freeman, an American who previously worked for Amazon, is heading the multi-billion dollar project, according to Business Insider. Freeman is Chief Business and Product Officer at Zalando and is said to be stepping up to the plate since the departure of Rubin Ritter.
Because the north-east of the US is the most wealthy region, the fashion marketplace would most likely start there. Zalando is reportedly not aiming for the cities alone – such as Boston and New York – but for the entire area, which includes states from Maine to Pennsylvania.
Shelved for now?
The Berlin-based company wants to build brand awareness in the US with the help of influencers, which may even include expensive celebrities. Zalando argues that influencers will create trust and visibility faster than classic marketing. However, there would still be questions about what exactly the target audience in the US is and how the Germans plan to distinguish themselves there.
Whereas in Europe Zalando had the great advantage of being the first online fashion retailer, this is not the case in the US. Even Amazon is already trying hard to claim the online fashion market, increasingly so even in the luxury segment. Project staff, who leaked the news to Business Insider despite a strict confidentiality clause, fear that Zalando is currently not thinking distinctively enough.
At the moment, however, the problem does not arise, as the company responds that the project is “on hold”. Without confirming or denying concrete plans, the fashion platform says that although it sees opportunities to grow outside the European continent, it is sticking to the existing markets “in the current economic climate”. Sales fell by 1.5 % in the first quarter and the second quarter will be even weaker, the e-commerce player predicts. Nevertheless, 2023 would remain the target date for the time being.