Zara launches its extremely long-awaited online shopping offer today in just six European countries: Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and the UK. The Americas, Asia and beyond will have to wait. Anything that brings more choice to the consumer is, I think a good thing and, most of all, it means that the United Kingdom shopper doesn’t have to deal with Zara in-store customer service any more.

It’s a peculiarly British Zara problem it seems. I never have a problem in New York, and the Paris & Barcelona Zaras are chaotic but always helpful. I was so gobsmacked at the level of service offered by the changing room staff at the Bond Street Zara that I tweeted my outrage.

(Laden with nine bulky items, (that’s three over their limit), other shopping and my handbag, the staff refused to hold a coat and two other pieces for me to try on afterwards, demanding I return them to the shop floor as ‘it made their staff area untidy’. When I pointed out I intended to buy the coat they insisted I go to the very far end of the store to leave it with my name at the till  – the till with a line of over ten people – and then come back to try on my clothes.  Instead I dumped it, draping it over a rail of Ts in full view of the fitting room. Apparently this was acceptable as it wasn’t ‘messing up the staff area’.  Insanity.)*

Two hours & a dead Blackberry battery later I got home and checked my Twitter feed: it was practically pulsing with indignation: the screen grab above shows maybe a fifth of the indignant tweets from Zara shoppers, many who had braved the Bond Street store, and who had found it a miserable, stroppy experience.

I went into Uniqlo on Oxford Street afterwards, a haven of smiling, welcoming, chirpy, nothing-is-too-much-trouble staff and wondered why Zara had to make it so difficult.

Which all means that as far as I am concerned, Zara online can only be a good thing. Not least because  Zara’s owner, the Inditex Group, uses a fast fashion model with super rapid turnover which means stock flies out of store the moment it lands. At least there’s a chance of getting one’s sticky mitts on desirable pieces now.

Of course there’s going to be a problem with returns for Inditex – online has a high percentage of them – and that won’t mesh with a fast fashion policy, which relies on getting stock out on the floor and selling through as quickly as possible. If stock starts reappearing 30 days later  that’s going to balls up their sales flow.

The site itself is as simple as it comes, and it’s rather refreshing that they’ve done away with chatter about each piece. There’s a plain description, say ‘high-neck silk blouse’,and that’s it.  The zoom function is excellent and there are several detail views of each piece. However you can’t shop a look – if a blouse is shot with a skirt, you can’t link through to that skirt if you are in the blouse section. Overall it’s functional and easy to use.  Let’shope they put those key must-have pieces on-line.

*although credit where credit is due – to Beatrice who looked all over the store to find me my size in a coat.

www.zara.com

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15 comments

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Thanks for sharing, I despise the shopping experience in Zara, London, at least in Greece they are more helpful, but have to say, am slightly gutted it isn’t online here. Zara is one of the most popular chain stores over here, offering slightly more inexpensive price points than the UK. It’s affordable fashion in a nutshell.
x.o.x.o

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I’m generally disappointed with customer service in many stores in London. Liberty and John Lewis are the big exception in that they are consistently good with this. I was shopping in Liberty yesterday for shoes and as always received service which was second to none. It’s not that staff in other shops (Zara being one) are necessarily rude; I don’t like (as one example, because there are several!) the laziness of telling a customer ‘it’s all out on the shop floor’ without offering alternative advice whilst the assistant carries on talking to her colleague about her weekend/getting dumped by b/f or other more important things than serving customers! I have to say, the USA is streets ahead in customer service (tipping culture or not) and it’s the one thing I must give credit to our American friends for. I hope Zara handle their online service a lot better than they handle their customers in store!!

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wow, this is very good news

vasilieva
http://elenavasilieva.blogspot.com/

x

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Hey LLG!
I have had the same problem in my local Zara. The staff always seem so uppity and unhelpful, almost like I’m priviledged to be shopping in their store in the first place. The male staff are just as bad as the women and there is an air of arrogance and bitchiness about the place, which sucks since I’ll begrudgingly agree they produce lovely clothes.
On a visit to Barcelona my boyfriend and I visited the store there and the difference was total-like you said, it was a little chaotic, but full of friendly, chatty, helpful staff.
As someone who works in retail themselves I know how important good customer service is, and it infuriates me when I don’t recieve it!
I have tried out the online service and found it to be very good-I shall be posting a web review on my blog today.
xoxo
Amie

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My tweet is one of those above and I have been horrified with Zara customer service but love their items so this is the perfect resolution to the problem.

One of my most problematic encounters with Zara was when I spent £150 in the Bromley branch last October on a dress, a pair of shoes and a handbag. Around Christmas time upon using the bag I noticed I was setting all kinds of alarms off and yet none had gone off when leaving the Bromley Zara branch initially. Searching painstakingly for the tag, I discovered there was none, therefore it must be within the lining. On visiting the Canterbury, in February, Zara branch and expressing my problem I was asked for the receipt. I explained that clearly I no longer had it as I had purchased it the first weekend in October and thought I had no problems with my purchases. I was then told quite rudely by the manager that she would not be removing the tag as “we don’t know that you haven’t stolen that” I understand that clearly that can happen but why should I be told after being a loyal Zara customer that I have to continue to live with constant bag searches after leaving stores because one of their branches forgot to detag and outrightly accusing me of theft! After much pleading she said that on this occasion she would detag although if I were to ever go to their store again with a similar problem they would not be helping me. Only to discover upon entering Tesco’s in Cornwall two days later that she had not detagged it at all and after explaining to security there the issue I was forced to notify them when I was about to leave the Tesco’s store so they could escort me out. I was mortified.

A similar situation occurred to a colleague of mine recently. Again Bromley forgot to detag her shoes, she was unaware of that fact and was planning to wear them with a new dress on a night out after work. A dress she had bought in Zara on a seperate occasion was no good so she visited one of the central London stores on the day she was planning on using shoes and dress and went to exchange the original dress with another she had seen. The alarms went off upon her entering but nobody paid attention. Upon leaving the store she was taken aside, they found the shoes but she had no receipt on her for them and so she was treated poorly and they were disallowing her from leaving the store. She explained where she’d bought them, when and that the alarm had gone upon entry but they didn’t care. She offered to get her flatmate to read the receipt number off to them over the phone but they refused initially. Eventually they allowed her to do so but again she was mortified. Far enough it looked a bit dodgy first of all but the fact that she was able to even provide a receipt number should have been proof enough that she clearly wasn’t lying but they continued to accuse her of theft.

Sorry for my rant.

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At last….. Can’t understand why it has taken them so long!

Having read the comments above, I must admit I’ve never had any problems with Customer Service at Zara. I used to buy a lot from their Regent St shop before I moved to Kent and these days I shop often in Canterbury or Maidstone (provided that I haven’t been to Spain, where I do most of my fashion shopping).

Anyway, most of the stuff I buy tends to be for my 2 year-old daughter, so it’s really very convenient to be able to buy online, given that at that age, she still doesn’t need to try things on.

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Zara in Manchester is no better.

I used to work in fashion retail so I understand that the staff don’t want to stay late to tidy up as they probably only get paid until closing time. However closing fitting rooms 30 mins in advance is excessive in my opinion. Maybe if they stayed on top of keeping it tidy throughout the day it would make it easier for them – it’s worse than Primark in there sometimes.

And with 10 minutes to go the music is turned off and you are basically made to feel very unwelcome – they may as well force you out of the doors.

And is it me or has the quality of Zara’s clothing deteriorated drastically in the past couple of years? Funny how the prices have remained the same/gone up though……..

Becky x

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Zara seems to be severly lacking in providing good customer service, that includes two stores in Glasgow and London Regent Street. I don’t find this lack of people skills at any surrounding stores in Glasgow, it seems to be a policy to recruit the most obnoxious sales people.

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I logged back on to say that the Zara in DC–I’ll never go in again. I finally popped in last autumn to look for a bday gift for niece. I saw a purse I liked but was on top shelf. I asked if they could bring it down so I could see. “Why? Nothing in here will fit you anyway.” Seriously. 1) what does that have to do with a purse? 2) How rude; 3) I feel bad enough with extra weight. Now, it’s OK to talk like that to customers? I looked for someone to complain to but all they were interested in was making sure that I didn’t steal from a pile of crap umbrellas. I looked eminently respectable (& I am). There was only one other person in the store. The stores nearby were jammed…gotta wonder.

This year I can fit into their stuff….don’t want it.

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The SAME thing happened to me at the Zara near Victoria station. It was my freaking birthday so I decided to pop over and treat myself to a new spring coat. I had my work bag and one or two other shopping bags and I had absolutely loaded my arms with clothes I was intending to try on and most likely purchase. I nicely asked the a$$hole manning the fitting room if I could leave the extra items I wanted to try on outside the fitting room and swap them out when I was ready (like every other legit store in the world) and he refused. He said it was against store policy. I then very sarcastically apologised for trying to spend money in his store and stormed out. NEVER AGAIN!

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