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The Future of Zara Involves Fewer Cash Registers, Virtual Mirrors

Photo: <a href=";theater">Zara</a>/Facebook
Photo: Zara/Facebook

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If you find yourself making weekly stops to the nearest Zara, then parent company Inditex's strategy is working perfectly. Retail Week visited their headquarters in Northern Spain to discover how the company became the "world's biggest clothing retailer" (they have stores in a whopping 88 countries). Here are some of the wildest factoids pertaining to Zara's path to fast fashion domination:

· Inditex founder Amancio Ortega's original name for Zara was Zorba, after the movie Zorba The Greek. When he found out that a local bar had the same name, he rearranged the letters in the sign to spell out Zara.

· Zara designs apparel and accessories in "five waves" each season, instead of one collection, and stores receive two shipments of new products a week. This nimbleness allows Inditex to avoid the plight of trying to sell winter coats during 2014's unseasonably warm fall.

· 51% of Zara's clothing is made near Spain, and that's usually the trendier items. Basics are often produced in Asia, but all products go through Spain before they're shipped around the world.

· There's a fake "high street" at Inditex's headquarters, where visual merchandising teams try out different configurations of products in model stores.

· Zara is still growing. Inditex chairman and chief executive Pablo Isla told Retail Week that Zara's rate of expansion is 8% to 10% in terms of space growth every year, and that's the plan for the next three to five years.

· Self-service checkouts could be in Zara's future. The parent company is trying out new technology, like mirrors that allow customers to virtually try on clothes, 3D window projections, and a mobile payment system.

· Inside Inditex: How Zara became a global fashion phenomenon [Retail Week]
· Sears Will Copy Zara's Fashion Strategy [Racked]
· How Zara Uses Hi-Tech Chips to Make Fast Fashion Faster [Racked]