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Wearable excellence

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Recently, I was privileged to be given a tour of the entire headquarters of Zara, in La Coruna, Spain, with my Spanish country manager Vicente Gil. Zara is clearly the most succesful fashion manufacturer and retailer in Europe, a fact being very evident from their 21B revenue and 3B profit.

Walking some 8 kilometers through their vast design, marketing, fashion studio, manufacturing and logistics departments truly demonstrated how a successful company operates. They live off realtime data from their stores and production, and continuously build new ways to make the data more available and accurate. All the 1300+ stores also have realtime access to headquarters, by means of videoconferencing and automatic inventory systems. No store is left to their own devices.

When HQ designers come to work, they tap on the previous day’s sales figures and other feedback per store and country, in order to understand customer preferences better and better. The supply and demand logistics is also very fine-tuned, making sure that all stores have advertised items available exactly at the right time.

What was also breathtaking was the modeling and prototyping of all types of stores in HQ – these looked exactly like real things, only without customers. Store managers and other personnel are trained in these facilities up to a year before a new store is opened.

I think one of the key success factors of Zara is their ultra-efficient use of subcontractors. Before outsourcing anything, they rigorously study the subject and learn how to do it themselves. Then after outsourcing the majority of the task in question, they maintain the own capability in order to retain a degree of independence and choice (Yes, they also have a full Tier4 data center and Network Operations Center, both bigger than I’ve seen in some national telcos.) This is identical to BaseN ideology what comes to our Full Stack approach.

Although very successful, Zara currently employs the fire-and-forget business model, meaning that the product vanishes from their radar once the consumer has completed the purchase. What happens to those newly bought high-rise jeans remains a mystery, with perhaps only some short-lived social media coverage. But did they really fit, or were used after the first wash? And how many times were they worn?

This is the area we’d love to work with a leader like Zara. I have a strong feeling that together we’ll have the first spime sock (oh well, they might insist jeans) in the market sooner than later.

//Pasi from La Coruna

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