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On December 14, 2015, ahallak commented on Aligning McKinsey to impact :

Thank you for sharing Cynthia! I have witnessed repeatedly client frustrations with consultants’ work that just gets put on a shelf never to be implemented. As clients ask for more end-to-end solutions and strategy-to-execution assistance, I believe we will see many changes in the space. This has already started with plenty of recent M&A in the field (PwC/Strategy&, Deloitte/Monitor, etc.) and it’ll be interesting to see where the industry will head in the future as corporate problems become more complex and more requiring of multi-disciplinary and hands-on solutions.

On December 14, 2015, ahallak commented on Stitch Fix: Personalized Retail at Scale :

Thank you for sharing Ravneet! I found this concept very interesting, especially the data algorithms part of it. I wonder, though, how much of a “personalized” shopping experience this is when it’s almost entirely controlled by computers. Don’t customers ask to interact directly with their stylists or expect to receive personal notes? Just like amignot above, I’m concerned about customer reaction if they find out the service isn’t exactly what it promises to be.

On December 14, 2015, ahallak commented on Quirky: Crowdsourcing Innovation :

Thank you for sharing Brad! I’ve been thinking along the same lines as TheOtherYiCai and I think that the success of Threadless lies in the simplicity of their product. They designed and sold t-shirts, built a community around it and did that very well. The lack of product focus at Quirky probably contributed to their demise. They competed in multiple product categories and multiple levels, all with broader consumers having limited brand awareness. Maybe if they had chosen to focus their efforts on fewer categories and re-iterated on successful products, they would have been better off.

On December 14, 2015, ahallak commented on Zara: A Better Fashion Business Model :

Great minds do think alike! I just answered Nishika’s question which was in a similar vein. Thank you for reading and commenting Deepika!

On December 14, 2015, ahallak commented on Zara: A Better Fashion Business Model :

Yes, exactly, fail fast and recover faster. Thank you Yaro!

On December 14, 2015, ahallak commented on Zara: A Better Fashion Business Model :

Hi Xavi! I answer your first question in my reply to Zhihan and your third in my reply to Nishika. Great minds think alike 🙂

To your second question, from my readings, I gather that Zara does empower store managers to discern and report customer wants and preferences. For example, it purposely leave store managers without computerized data on in-store stock. Instead, they receive hourly sales and replenishment reports on a handheld device. As a result, they can’t just sit in an office and read reports but must speak with sales clerks and check the racks and the stockroom frequently. Store managers also have a high incentive to collect the right data as they are responsible for deciding what merchandise to order (rather than hanging up the items sent from HQ), and their compensation is partially linked to the accuracy of their sales forecasts and sales growth. I’m not entirely sure how this information is reported back to HQ (through which systems) but designers would cross-check feedback from different locations to check wether observations were local or global and then react in new designs.

On December 14, 2015, ahallak commented on Zara: A Better Fashion Business Model :

Thank you for taking the time to read Zhihan! I allude to your concern at the end of my article: Zara’s expanding global reach could finally put its operating model to the test. In 2013, China became Zara’s second-largest in terms of the number of stores (142) and that comes with many challenges. It is worth noting that many base “greige” items are manufactured in China, shipped to Spain for finalization, and then redistributed back to Chinese stores – probably not the most efficient process. I suppose, to your point, Zara could decouple design from finishing and distribution and localize functions in regional hubs but the secret to its success so far being centralization of design/manufacturing/distribution, I worry it would no longer be the same Zara.

On December 14, 2015, ahallak commented on Zara: A Better Fashion Business Model :

Thank you for commenting Nishika!

To answer your question, speed in decision making plays a large role in Zara’s model. Moreover, different geographies could have different fashion trends at any given moment in time: overalls could be popular in Barcelona while midi skirts could be all the rage in Mumbai. To this end, and to keep up with the fast changing fashion requirements, Zara has decentralized its decision making structure throughout the organization. Individual store managers are given the authority to decide when items go on sale, and which items in their to store to place orders for. Managers also have autonomy to perform their jobs without any second-guessing from higher management.

This is also something I noticed first-hand. Beirut has four Zara stores and the selections are never identical. I think this is less of a collection delay strategy and more of an individual store decision, which is great for us consumers as we can influence managers decisions through purchases and feedback.