The get big fast as a business model in e-commerce
: a case study of Zalando

  • Ana Catarina Cordeiro Morgado (Student)

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


The purpose of this thesis is to identify the properties of the internet that help e-commerce companies to growth so much and so fast, along with the analysis of the Get Big Fast strategy. Such strategy exploits online business activities based on first mover advantage, allowing incumbents to preempt competition by gaining market share as fast as possible and generate positive feedbacks. This qualitative research is a case-study of Zalando, an online fashion retailer. Though initially specialized in footwear, the firm quickly broadened its product portfolio, expanded into new markets and acquired millions of clients, becoming the Europe’s market leader. Hence, this study investigates to what extent Zalando has followed the Get Big Fast principles, based on data provenient from five interviews and multiple secondary sources. The findings indicate that certain properties of the internet stimulate the scalability of business operations, such as: 1) Mediating Technology 2) Information Density 3) Universal Standards 4) Distribution Channel 5) Infinite Virtual Capacity and 6) Global Reach. Moreover, it was found that Zalando has actually pursued the Get Big Fast strategy by being an early mover in the market, applying three out of four common tactics to gain market share (capacity expansion, heavy advertising and formation of strategic alliances), following product and market development strategies and generating four positive feedbacks (economies of scale, learning effects, network effects and accumulation of complementary assets). Nevertheless, some limitations exist, including an extensive scope of research, limited amount of interviews conducted via Skype and a generalization problem.
Date of Award12 Nov 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade Católica Portuguesa
SupervisorTorger Reve (Supervisor)


  • E-commerce
  • Online retail
  • Get big fast
  • E-commerce growth strategies
  • Product line expansion
  • Geographical expansion
  • Zalando


  • Mestrado em Gestão

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