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BERLIN, May 9 (Reuters) - Zalando says style advice and a personal shopping service are encouraging customers to spend more on their orders, as the German company makes progress halting a fall which had hit its profitability.
Average order sizes at Europe's biggest online-only fashion retailer have fallen in recent years as people shop more often on their smartphones but spend less each time, pushing up Zalando's logistics costs.
Zalando, which last week said it had managed to slow that decline, launched its free Zalon curated shopping service in 2015 and employs 700 stylists who put together outfit suggestions for several hundred thousand customers a year.
Zalon ships an outfit of between five and 12 items, carefully tied with ribbon and packed in a special box. Although this means higher costs, to pay the stylists as well as delivery and other costs, it results in a higher average order value.
"Customers who engage with outfits are twice as likely to buy something and their baskets are bigger," Rob Manzano, Zalando head of user research, told journalists on Thursday.
Zalon's average order value is "much higher" than at Zalando, because the service is seen as a premium offering so stylists can include higher-end items and fewer discounted goods, Zalon Chief Executive Ivo Scherkamp said.
The service is disproportionately used by customers looking for plus size and maternity clothing, he added.
Zalando started suggesting outfits to all its regular customers in November, using algorithms that scour their shopping history as well as the millions of styles put together by Zalon's fashion experts.
It scans the full Zalando catalogue and is enhanced by human expertise so that it knows which particular shade is in fashion. (Reporting by Emma Thomasson Editing by Alexander Smith)