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Zara: A Dedicated Follower of Fashion


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The first Zara shop in the universe was opened in La Coruna in 1975 by its laminitis, “Amancio Ortega, who in 2003 was still its largest stockholder and the richest adult male in Spain” , ( McAfee et al, 2007, p.3 ) . In 1977, Zara opened its first experimental shop in Regent Street, London, which paved the manner for its entry into the UK high street manner, ( Hines and Bruce, 2007, p. 40 ) . By 2003, about 550 shops were opened around the universe, bring forthing 73.3 % of the gross revenues of the Inditex concatenation, ( McAfee et al, 2007, p.5 ) . Harmonizing to McAfee and co-workers ( 2007, p.5 ) , “of the three sections inside Zara, Women accounted for 60 % of gross revenues, with the remainder equally split between Men and the aggressive Children section. For its fiscal-year 2002, Inditex had posted a net income of ˆ438 million ( about $ 502 million U.S. dollars ) on grosss of ˆ3,974 million ( about $ 4,554 million ) , go oning a tendency of rapid and profitable growing ; the company’s net incomes, for illustration, had more than tripled between 1996 and 2000.” Table 1 shows the historical financials of Inditex whereby about 73 % of gross revenues is was contributed by Zara. Additionally, Table 2 presents the geographical distribution of Inditex shops around the Earth, where Zara has the highest figure of concatenation shops.

Table 1Inditex Historical Financials ( 1000000s of Euro )

Beginning: McAfee and others ( 2007, p. 16 )

Table 2 Inditex Store Locations by Country and Group ( January 31, 2003 )

Beginning: McAfee and others ( 2007, p. 17 )

Despite some cardinal operational challenges such as the high volatility and low predictability of demand in the manner industry, Zara was able to prolong fiscal growing and concern enlargement. This paper critically evaluates the manner in which Zara is managed. First, it will look into the organisational civilization within Zara, with accent on the development of originative squads and the scope of duties that the company delegates to its shop directors. Next, it will dig into the direction manner of the company which incorporates four key constituents, viz. : ( 1 ) market sensitiveness ; ( 2 ) practical integrating ; ( 3 ) network-based orchestration ; and ( 4 ) procedure alliance. Then, it will discourse the manner the company manages its cognition base through the execution of internally-developed IT application throughout its full supply concatenation. Finally, it will show its decisions from the analysis of all the facts and informations presented.

Organizational Culture

Harmonizing to McAfee and co-workers ( 2007, p.3 ) , in order to ease prompt determination devising, “take advantage of the intelligence and swear the judgement of employees throughout the company” , Zara nurtured an effectual organisational civilization that later provided the company a competitory advantage over its challengers. In the design of its merchandise lines – for adult females, kids and work forces – the company developed originative squads “consisting of interior decorators, sourcing specializers, and merchandise development personnel” , who “simultaneously worked on merchandises for the current season by making changeless fluctuation, spread outing upon successful merchandise points and go oning in-season development, and on the undermentioned season and twelvemonth by choosing the cloths and merchandise mix that would be the footing for an initial aggregation. Top direction stressed that alternatively of being run by master, the design organisation was really level and focused on careful reading of catwalk tendencies suited for the mass market” , ( Ghemawat & A ; Nueno, 2003, p. 10 ) . McAfee and co-workers ( 2007, p.3 ) maintain that these originative squads are called ‘commercials’ who “had great discretion in make up one’s minding what apparels would be designed and produced.” The writers ( p.4 ) , besides claim that another group of ‘commercials’ called shop merchandise directors, sat in close propinquity to the merchandise squads and served as La Coruna’s chief interface with Zara shops around the universe. They travelled extensively, detecting what occupants were have oning and speaking at length with shop directors to happen out what kinds of apparels were selling. Even more significantly, they besides tried to larn what kinds of apparels would sell if Zara made them.” There about 200 elect interior decorators that work in such groups, ( Baker ; A ; Bass, 2003, p. 92 ) . The figure below shows the physical organisation of the company’s design section. Furthermore, shop directors in its mercantile establishments around the universe are delegated a significant set of duties, whereby they straight deal with clients, employees, contractors and landlords. They besides make the determinations on “what garments would be on sale at their shops. They placed orders for the points they thought would sell, instead than merely accepting and exposing what central office decided to direct them” , ( McAfee et al, 2007, p. 3 ) .

Figure 1 Physical Organization of a Zara Design Department

Beginning: McAfee and others ( 2007, p. 14 ) .

Management Manner

Aside from its organisational capablenesss, Zara efficaciously developed and implemented an nimble supply concatenation direction attack which, harmonizing to Christopher and co-workers ( 2004 ) , consists of four cardinal constituents, viz. : ( 1 ) market sensitiveness ; ( 2 ) practical integrating, ( 3 ) web orchestration ; and ( 4 ) procedure alliance.

( 1 )Market sensitiveness

Zara is considered as a market-sensitive concern organisation because it is able to tackle the power to react to existent demand. While other concern organisations in the manner industry are forecast-driven instead that demand-driven, Zara was able to implement an efficient consumer response ( ECR ) system which features a “direct feed-forward from the market place by manner of informations on existent client requirements” , ( Christopher, 2000, p. 38 ) . This is made possible by the organisational civilization of Zara, which consists of cross-functional squads who are “guided by regular influxs of electronic point of sale ( EPOS ) informations and other information from all of the company’s shops and sites around the world” , ( Christopher, 2000, p. 30 ) .

( 2 )Virtual integrating

Business operations in Zara are virtually integrated in the sense that they are interconnected and are “integrated through shared information on existent demand so that all the participants in the concatenation, from the cloth makers to the garment shapers to the retail merchant, are all working to the same set of numbers” , ( Christopher et al, 2004, p. 10 ) . In kernel, Zara implements a co-managed stock list system or CMI, “which is a procedure through which the provider collaborates with the retail merchant to pull off the flow of merchandise into the customer’s distribution system. The provider and the client jointly agree the coveted stock degrees that need to be maintained in the retailer’s operation. The client feedback gross revenues informations is sent on a regular footing to the provider who so uses that information to program replenishments” , ( Christopher et al, 2004, pp. 10-11 ) . Therefore, the practical integrating of operations in Zara is characterized by shared information on existent demand, collaborative planning and end-to-end visibleness, ( Christopher et al, 2004, p.9 ) .

( 3 ) Network-based orchestration

The high –level of Zara’s client reactivity is attributable to its ability to work closely with “specialist, frequently little, manufacturers” , ( Christopher et al, 2004, p.9 ) . Christopher ( 2000, p. 40 ) explains that the whole procedure of providing goods to the shops begins with the design squads in La Coruna, Spain. The natural stuffs are so acquired “through the company’s purchasing offices in the United Kingdom, China, and The Netherlands, with most of the stuffs themselves coming from Mauritius, New Zealand, Australia, Morocco, China, India, Turkey, Korea, Italy, and Germany. Approximately 40 % of the garments–those with the broadest and least transeunt appeal–are imported as finished goods from low-priced fabrication centres in the Far

East.” Such subcontractors are given the “necessary technological, fiscal and logistical support required to accomplish rigorous clip and quality target” , ( Christopher et al, 2004, 11 ) . Therefore, the operations that are conducted in-house are limited to those that enhance cost-efficiency through economic systems of graduated table ( such as dyeing, cutting, labelling, and packaging ) , ( Christopher, 2000, p. 40 ) . This set-up ensures that Zara is the orchestrator of the web that uses “flexible agreements with a broad supply base” , ( Christopher et al, 2004, p. 11 ) .

( 4 ) Procedure Alliance

Harmonizing to Christopher and co-workers ( 2004, p. 12 ) , process alliance is the “ability to make ‘seamless’ or ‘boundaryless’ connexions, in other words there are no holds caused by hand-offs or buffers between the different phases in the concatenation and minutess are likely to be paperless.” In order to ease efficient procedure alliance, Zara utilizes internally-developed applications that supported ordination,

fulfillment, and fabricating operations, ( McAfee et al, 2007, p.8 ) . This scheme ensures the sharing of information in real-time among all units in its supply concatenation, increasing the degree of synchronism among them. Hence, all units in Zara’s supply concatenation act as if they were one concern ; later advancing speedy response to client demands.

Figure 2 below illustrates four cardinal constituents of Zara’s nimble supply concatenation direction scheme.

Figure 2 Components of Zara’s Agile Supply Chain Management Strategy

Based on the theoretical account developed by Christopher ( 2000, p. 40 ) .

Knowledge Management

Knowledge direction systems “can be defined as enterprise-wide systems that employ a rapid retrieval capableness utilizing appropriate package from an organization-wide or planetary cognition base, including informations repositing, for the intent of supplying determination shapers with timely cognition for job resolution and, in peculiar, job finding” , ( Thierauf, 1999, p. 65 ) . Zara has an efficient cognition direction system which allows it to put to death rapid response to client demand. McAfee and co-workers ( 2007, p. 8 ) , maintain that Zara has a section tasked to execute all application development and other IT activities, which is staffed “with about 50 people, about all hailing from Galicia and recruited from local universities. They were divided into three groups: Store Solutions, Logistics Support, and Administrative Systems.” The writers add that all IT support of its shops around the universe is executed straight from its headquarter at La Coruna, whereby “several systems were used to back up Zara’s operations. Internally developed applications were used to fix the offer and administer it over the cyberspace to shops around the universe and besides to have orders from all of the shops and sum them.” Another computing machine application compares the aggregative order to available stock list for each stock-keeping unit ( SKU ) , which was defined as the combination of garment plus fabric plus colour plus size, ( McAfee et al, 2007 ) . In add-on, “another application kept path of the theoretical stock list of each SKU at each shop. Cargos to shops increased this stock list, and gross revenues decreased it. At the terminal of each concern twenty-four hours, each shop transmitted that day’s gross revenues for all SKUs back to La Coruna, utilizing a modem connected to one of the store’s POS terminals” , ( McAfee et al, 2007, p. 8 ) . Figure 3 below shows a sample of Zara’s point of gross revenues terminus ( POS ) .

Figure 3 Point of Gross saless Terminal of Zara

Beginning: McAfee et Al ( 2007, p. 22 )

At its mills, Zara uses merely simple applications in production planning, which “presented mill directors with measures and due day of the months for all production petitions. Directors used this information to lade their mills and set occupations in sequence” , ( McAfee et al, 2007, p. 9 ) . In contrast, Zara’s distribution centres ( DCs ) usage “a great trade of mechanization and cybernation. At the La Coruna DC, for illustration, stat mis of machine-controlled conveyer belts facilitated the on-going undertaking of having bulk measures of each garment from mills so recombining these garments into cargos for each store” , ( McAfee et al, 2007, p. 9 ) . Figure 4 illustrates a typical Zara distribution centre. McAfee and co-workers ( 2007, p. 9 ) , explains that “information systems tracked where each SKU was stored as it entered the DC, so controlled the conveyer belts to pick them up and drop them off at the appropriate places.”

Figure 4 Zara’s Distribution Center ( DC )

Beginning: McAfee et Al ( 2007, p. 22 )

Furthermore, all Zara shops worldwide use personal digital helpers ( PDAs ) —and POS systems, ( McAfee et al, 2007, p. 9 ) . The PDAs are chiefly used “for ordination and besides for undertakings such as managing garment returns to DCs and conveying information from central office to all stores” , ( McAfee et al, 2007, p. 9 ) . On the other manus, the POS systems are used for conveying the stores’ day-to-day gross revenues record “back to La Coruna, utilizing a modem connected to one of the store’s POS terminals” , ( McAfee et al, 2007, p. 9 ) . Figure 5 presents the typical contents of activities that are carried out in PDAs.

Figure 5 Zara’s Personal Digital Assistants ( PDAs )

Beginning: McAfee et Al ( 2007, p. 19 )


In the concluding analysis, it is clear that Zara has efficaciously managed its concern organisation through the acceptance of a concern theoretical account which links client demand to fabrication ; and where fabrication is later linked to distribution, ( McAfee, 20067, p.3 ) . Additionally, the undermentioned salient factors positively contributed to its phenomenal growing and success in the manner industry:

  • The organisational construction of Zara facilitated the exceeding orchestration of its capableness to better reactivity to client demands.
  • Zara was able to develop and implement a direction manner that promotes legerity in its full supply concatenation. Such manner helped the company become market sensitive, virtually incorporate, network-based and procedure aligned.
  • Zara was able to follow an effectual and extremely dependable cognition direction system which uses cutting-edge IT application and architecture which were internally-developed. This cognition direction system

promoted easy communicating among all concern units in the supply concatenation.

Therefore, the organisational civilization, direction manner and knowledge direction system developed and implemented by Zara in the direction of its full supply concatenation contributed to its success in meeting and transcending client demand and outlooks.


  1. Baker, S. , ; A ; Bass, M. , 2003. New Consumer Selling: Pull offing a Living Demand System. Chichester, England: Wiley.
  2. Christopher, M. , 2000. The Agile Supply Chain: Competing in Volatile Markets.Industrial Marketing Management,29, 37–44.
  3. Christopher, M. , Lowson, R. , Peck, H. Creating nimble supply ironss in the manner industry.International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management,32( 8 ) , 367-376.
  4. Ghemawat, P.J. , Nueno, J.L. , 2003. ZARA: Fast Fashion. Harvard Business School. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing.
  5. Hines, T. , Bruce, M. , 2007. Manner Marketing Contemporary Issues. Second Edition. The Netherlands: Elsevier Ltd.
  6. Lowson, R. H. , 2002. Strategic Operations Management: The New Competitive Advantage. New York: Routledge.
  7. McAfee, A. , Dessain, V. , Sjoman, A. , 2007. Zara: IT for Fast Fashion. Harvard Business School. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing.
  8. Thierauf, R. J. , 1999. Knowledge Management Systems for Business. Westport, CT: Quorum Books.

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