Online fashion

Artificial intelligence is Zalando’s perfect match

A woman walks past the logo of fashion retailer Zalando, in Berlin
Computer, do our bums look big in these? Source: Reuters

Not long from now, if you buy a pair of shoes at the German online retailer Zalando, expect to be offered a matching pair of trousers. Or a hat. Or some socks. And the personalized service won’t stop there: You’ll be able to chat with a virtual sales assistant to guide you around a web store filled with items that suit your needs and tastes.

The days of endless clicking and scrolling to find a shopping item you want are coming to an end thanks to artificial intelligence, software that uses data to make predictions. And Zalando, Germany’s third biggest online fashion retailer after Amazon and the Otto group, plans to fully exploit the trend.

Curated shopping is one of the firm’s most important projects for the next 12 to 18 months, said CEO Rubin Ritter. “A team of 600 colleagues is working exclusively on it, many of them are software and data engineers,” he said.

Mr. Ritter, 35 who joined Zalando from consultancy McKinsey, wants to make sure that the company’s 22 million active customers don’t get bewildered by the 300,000 new products Zalando offers each year. “That can only succeed in future if everyone gets their own Zalando,” he said.

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