Zalando / Logistics
Yard & Dock
The Challenge
With its vast customer base of 50 million across Europe, Zalando SE undertakes a monumental logistical effort to ensure the timely delivery of millions of orders. This scale of operation underscores the company's commitment to customer satisfaction.

The challenge of this project was to build an efficient application that does three important things:
a. Organise key aspects of arrival and departure of every transport.
b. Manage the activity for parking areas, docks and dock queues.
c. Organise and optimise the movement of equipment in the yard.
Discovery, understanding and planning.
Understanding existing problems and anticipating new ones requires extensive knowledge and a clear vision. Dealing with legacy systems and established habits is messy.

Yard & Dock, unlike most SaaS platforms, relies on physical processes. What sets it apart is Zalando's proactive approach, led by competent Product Managers, in investing and staying one step ahead, ensuring the project's preparedness for the future.

Being a greenfield project, the Discovery phase for Yard & Dock Applications was not just a step in the project but a work stream that ran in parallel for the whole of its length. One key aspect was finding new opportunities for optimisation and creating a product that can adapt and scale. 
Research, ideation and strategy.
The research for such a complex project started with simple conversations. Those conversations turned into workshops, and soon, we had no perfect but workable solutions.

Moving equipment purposefully and efficiently around a warehouse is challenging, especially when the warehouse is the size of 20 football fields, with hundreds of parking slots, dozens of Docks, and Dock Queues.

To organise a project, the yard and dock managers must always know where any piece of equipment is. With countless operations happening in parallel at any given time, the application must be able to provide entry points for viewing or ordering the movement of equipment at the right time in the right place. This movement order has to be communicated with the Tow Truck operators to optimise the move.
The product spine.
To avoid blind spots and create a solid product, we had to talk to the warehouse workers. We had to understand how the physical work gets done, the constraints, and the opportunities to improve it.
Today, almost every process has a detailed diagram and concise documentation. Before working on the interface, every process flow was validated. We had to make sure that they connect and make sense for people and systems.
Custom experience,
custom user interface.
The Yard & Dock Application caters to multiple user groups operating in shifts. It is designed to ensure a seamless handover and takeover of work streams, providing a safe, comfortable and efficient work environment.
Some operators are constantly on the move, driving equipment around the yard, and need to pick up tasks while moving.
For them, I designed a thin client running on tablets connected to the warehouse network. The main goals of this experience were safety and efficiency.
Mock-up, prototype, test, repeat.
With all the main processes mapped and validated, it was time to mock up and validate the interface.
Today, the central part of the interface of Yard and Dock is an interactive map.
Traditional interfaces for such applications are just endless lists with many columns. This map view offers fast entry points at any level for any parking slot around the warehouse and a detailed picture of any Dock or Dock Queue process.
In the future, with integrated IoT systems, this interface can evolve into an efficient real-time monitoring and process optimisation system.
The Result
The logic and processes managed through the interface will soon go live for the warehouse in Rotterdam (NL).
The Yard and Dock user interface was designed to evolve and adapt. If proven successful, Yard & Dock has a module (designed in parallel) that will allow Zalando to deploy and configure the interface/map for every warehouse it owns. That set of features, called Y&D Configurator, deserves a story of its own.
Alin is one of the major contributors in designing Zalando’s first, middle, and last-mile transport platform. Alin has it all, he is well organised, creative, diligent, highly focused, hands-on and a fast learner. All these attributes were critical when trying to build a product from scratch by redoing the entire existing process, which involves reaching out to a lot of people, understanding the as-is process, defining the product, designing it, and finally helping in the development phase. Being a fast learner helped him understand the domain quickly and choose the right path to success.

Alin is not only a great product designer but also a well-rounded product manager and can add value to any part of the product life cycle. His vision and energy to make things happen are contagious and they helped us achieve great goals at Zalando. One of the best product designers I have worked with for sure. Alin is my go-to person. Whenever I need product-related brainstorming, solution, or just bouncing ideas I make sure to reach out to him, as he is the best. He has been collaborating with my teams for a year now, and on top of being a great product designer, I would say he is my strongest counterpart in product management.

A very easy-going person to work with. He has been a strong inspiration to me as he always went the extra mile and found great ways and ideas to quickly solve problems. Words aren’t enough to summarise Alin’s contribution. I share a personal bond with Alin because we may not think alike, but we ensure we feel we are being heard, convince each other until we are on the same page, and only then make sure we move ahead in the product journey.
Alin has earned a great level of respect from everyone he has worked at Zalando with.
I had the pleasure of working with Alin on one of the Zalando’s last mile products. It was a learning experience for me in many ways.
My most favourite thing about Alin is that he is always in high spirits, and the same enthusiasm reflects in the people around him as well. Professionally, he is very hard working, passionate, diligent, considerate of others' ideas, stays on top of things and most importantly he has this ability to think clearly even amongst a lot of chaos. I wish him success in all his endeavours.
I got an opportunity to work with Alin on a number of products within Zalando logistics tech domain.
Alin is an experienced professional who is really good at designing user journeys from start to end.

He deep dives into any problem statement and tries to come out with a number of possible ways to solve it. We worked together on designing a comprehensive end to end solution for warehouse users in one of the products in transportation platform.

Alin has a great sense of ownership and possess extraordinary collaborative skills, specially when it comes to working together with product and engineering teams, he looks for constant feedback, translating the user inputs and desired business needs into his product design so as to bring immense value to the users.

As a senior product and service designer - Alin brings with himself a lot of value and great work. And, I'll recommend him to any setup or organisation that is looking forward to building extraordinary products and enhancing the customer experience by multiple folds.
Alin is not only a very talented designer, but also a very likeable person. If you think you have a complex design project and need someone to come in and add value fast, this is the person to talk to.

I’ve interviewed a lot of designers, but interviewing Alin was memorable. He did not only add value from day one when I hired him, but shared already helpful insights during the interview. When Alin joined Zalando, he demonstrated that he has has a sharp mind and immersed himself quickly into the topic.
In no time he became an integral part the transportation team as their first designer, and a valued member of the wider design community.
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