Shaping Zalando’s Experience

When UX didn’t exist yet.

Sara Zeverino
5 min readJun 21, 2022

Back in 2012, I moved to Berlin for an internship in Zalando. I knew the company cause I had once bought from them a pair of 1461 cherry red Dr. Martens, which according to my (not anymore) indie-rock soul, were the must-have of every season.

Zalando Hompage in 2012 and my first Zalando Purchase

I was looking for my first working experience after graduating in Fashion Marketing from Polimoda. I was so enthusiastic, curious and hungry to learn and experience all that a vibrant city like Berlin was ready to offer.

I had no idea that was I was really going to do was contribute to the shaping and success of one of the biggest fashion e-commerce of our times.

I first started as an intern in the SEO team and then moved to the Onsite Management, which was basically what we now would call the Product team. Together with the marketing department, the graphic designers and country managers, we would test the homepages and the categories landing pages to offer our customers the best-tailored experience.

All that the users would see once they landed on Zalando Italy was our responsibility. Since the brand image was not as defined as we know it today, the focus was on local markets and each country had pretty much a lot of freedom to try what worked best for their users.

How were we doing that? A/B TESTING, of course!

I was responsible for ideating the teasers (that’s how we called the images on the website) and checking our KPIs to see what was performing better when it came to campaign headlines, CTAs, products, images, colors… What I was doing (but I didn’t know it then) was contributing to the User Experience.

When the German market was promoting boots (in August), on the Italian website we were still promoting bikinis, sandals, and summer clothes☀️🌊🍦!

Knowing the Italian market, together with sales goals, I was also pushing to show trends and acquire more fashionable customers by suggesting outfits and styles. We also had a magazine where people could stay up-to-date with all fashion weeks' trends, designers, and seasonal must-haves.

As you can see below, my obsession with Indie-rock music ended up not only in my wardrobe but also on Zalando Homepage!

We would use some campaigns to promote macro-categories (like the one above): accessories, shoes, and clothing. Through some other campaigns, we would push specific products such as boots, jeans, pullovers…

We would test a combination of images and products with only products; a headline that suggested a trend with one focused on a category. The aim was to understand our customers’ behaviors and what our users liked the most in order to offer them the best experience and conquer their trust when online shopping was still a new thing in Italy.

Autumn Basics: outfit suggestion
Bohemian Chic Outfit suggestion
Products vs. Image and Products campaigns

My team was also the first one who tested campaigns with employers’ suggestions and introduced colored backgrounds, which were then adopted by all the other markets with great success!

We wanted to create a bond between the team and the customers, showing them the faces behind Zalando and giving them the idea of a “human” company at a time where E-commerce was just taking its first steps into the Italian skeptical market.

You can trust us. We are human!

Employees' suggestions and Colored background

In 2014 I also contributed to the rollout of the Zalando app in all the European markets. I was testing the app on both iOS and Android devices to make sure there were no mistakes and the flows were smooth before going online.

Years have gone by and I have moved to other companies, tried different roles, and taken on new responsibilities. But helping create a great experience for customers will always be my favorite thing to do!

As recently read on Figma’s page, every choice you make to solve a problem is a design decision. This is why I decided to specialize in UX and Product design, where I aim to contribute to many other companies' success!

Here I am, standing outside of Zalando (probably in 2014?!) with a big smile on my face posing for a fashion magazine. 🥲

A big stand-out and thank you to the whole team who contributed with me to Zalando Italy’s success from 2012 to 2015. We rocked guys!

I leave you with one beautiful quote from Dieter Rams’ Principles of Good Design documentary:

Design only works when it really seeks to achieve something for humanity.

Last but not least: I am looking for UX researcher and designer roles!

Feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn if you are interested in knowing more about my skills and background.

Thank you for your time,