Zara: Fast Fashion from Savvy Systems

Both Zara and The Gap are retail online clothing giants in the fashion s industry. Zara, now worldwide, was founded in Spain. The Gap, also now worldwide, is a US Corporation. Both companies made a critical strategic decision on the future growth of their companies, with Zara taking the lead to move their significant marketing online. Gap later followed. Both still make retail sales but are positioned on the Internet. Zara currently has over 1M hits on its website each month. Read this chapter to understand how early the use of IT, particularly data collection and analysis, helps gain a competitive advantage. How did Zara use data to make early decisions about its business operations? How did Zara's use of data compare to Gap's?


Questions and Exercises

  1. Has anyone shopped at Zara? If so, be prepared to share your experiences and observations with your class. What did you like about the store? What didn't you like? How does Zara differ from other clothing retailers in roughly the same price range? If you've visited Zara locations in different countries, what differences did you notice in terms of offerings, price, or other factors?
  2. What is the "conventional wisdom" of the fashion industry with respect to design, manufacturing, and advertising?
  3. What do you suppose are the factors that helped Gap to at one point rise to be first in sales in the fashion industry?
  4. Who ran Gap in the 1990s? How did the executive perform prior to leaving Gap? Describe what happened to sales. Why?
  5. Who was the Gap's second CEO of this decade? How did sales fare under him? Why?
  6. Where do Gap clothes come from? Who makes them? Why? Are there risks in this approach?
  7. Describe the Fair Factories Clearinghouse. Which firm thought of this effort? Why did they give the effort away? What happens as more firms join this effort and share their data?