Process Innovation – Zara

by Tomislav Buljubasic

Zara. Many of us have wandered around their trendy shops or browsed their top-of-the-class website without knowing very much about company behind that brand. So, what makes this Spanish brand so successful?

Simply: Zara is one of greatest examples of process innovation.

The founder, Armancio Ortega started his business in the year 1975 as a single store in La Coruña (Spain). His Inditex group now has Zara and many Zara’s sister brands such as Pull & Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Stradivarius and Zara Home.

Ortega, once a tailor’s assistant learned the value of controlling all steps of the production and distribution process, later he applied it all to the Zara chain.

What’s so interesting about this company?

They don’t spend money on commercials, because they are spreading their ‘brand’ with verbal communication between customers and with their label only on their bags.

It is essential that Zara has the possibility to quickly respond on market demands, from their factory in La Coruna. They have innovative manufacturing process, which allows them to be quick in responding  and sending clothes to their shops, and they also do some re-designing in that time. Only 15-25% of clothes are produced before the season and 50-60% in the start of the season. All other clothes are produced during the season according to customer wishes (design which has no good response is withdrawn).

Zara Design team are producing 18,000 different models of clothes per year, that’s about 70 every working day in a continuous process. The Zara Inditex group has more then 5500 stores in 82 countries and employs more then 110,000 people. Their product reach customers in just 4 weeks. It is astonishing to hear that whole idea process is just 4 weeks long.

Zara’s process innovation makes this company fast and market-responsive, which is more then enough to keep their top position among fashion brands.

image credit: myzaraclothing.com

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Barriers to Innovative CultureTomislav Buljubasic is an Innovation Manager and writer from Croatia, focusing on creativity, innovation culture and process. Author of Unleash Your Creativity App, he can be followed on twitter @buljubasict