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Global apparel giant expands its reach in a big way

Zara is making its way into more than 100 countries — at least, online.

The fast-fashion retailer owned by Inditex on Thursday will launch a new dedicated worldwide online platform, technology that will enable the company to bring its fashions to customers in 106 new markets. Most of these new markets are in Africa, and will include customers in Angola, Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Madagascar, Zimbabwe and Ghana, among others. The online store is also making its debut in numerous parts of the Caribbean and Asia.

The platform will introduce new items from its women's, men's and kids' collections twice a week, and feature a simple, intuitive browsing experience that is configured for all devices. Merchandise will be organized by curated collections, as well as “stories” which take shoppers on a visual tour of capsule collections and trends — two features that enable users to shop entire looks.

The site will also be available in English and French, and will be supported by dedicated customer service available in both languages.

The site will accept widely used online payment methods, such as PayPal and major credit cards. Orders will be processed in euros, grossed up by the corresponding delivery and customs charges, and fulfilled from Zara's online platform in Spain. Customers will receive orders within three to seven days, according to the company.

This is Zara’s latest move to step up its digital experience. For example, Zara plans to use its vast network of approximately 2,000 stores in 48 countries to ship online purchases. The chain expects to have all stores shipping merchandise to customers around the world, including in the United States, by year’s end, according to The Wall Street Journal.

One store that already supports this service is the company’s newly transformed flagship at Westfield Stratford mall in London. The two-story, 48,000-sq.-ft. store features digital technology that integrates the online and offline shopping experiences, with solutions including automated order collection points, self-checkout, interactive mirrors and mobile payment systems.

The store also features a dedicated section for the purchase and collection of online orders. This section has two automated online order collection points, serviced by a concealed area able to handle 2,400 orders simultaneously, enabling shoppers to collect purchases made through Zara’s e-commerce platforms.

The store also features interactive mirrors equipped with RFID readers. The readers detect the garment a customer is holding, enabling customers to see what a complete outfit will look like in the mirror.
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