Monday, April 13, 2009

Collaboration: The New Wave of Retailing

Internal, collaborative teams and external collaboration with customers will become one of the hallmarks of the New Wave of Retailing. Collaborative organizations, which are different from team-based organizations because they implement the collaborative process systemically, allow for greater adaptability in implementing and reacting to change, greater flexibility in product development, and greater empowerment among all members of the organization in the decision-making process.

At SA VA, collaboration is being embraced from the outset and is affecting everything from Design to corporate culture and organization. The SA VA Design Teams, for example, work with customer input and consist of members from technical and creative, sewing and tailoring, sourcing, marketing, and customer service. As a customer-centric organization, where information from customer input, the customer database, market research, and analytics, the Customer Experience Group receives data from, responds to, and feeds all aspects of the organization. It occupies a central, through not necessarily an authoritative position within the company.

As horizontal, collaborative systems replace vertical, rigid, command-and-control organizations as the preferred method of business organization, it will become increasingly necessary to find individuals who are comfortable working and learning in non-hierarchical groups. The acid test will be if past experience on the part of retail management can flourish in this new wave of retailing.

(Women's Wear Daily just published an article on retailers struggling to meet new consumer needs. Here is the link: WWD. Unfortunately, WWD subscribes to a paid subscription format, which seems out of place in the world of open communication.)

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