Customer Relationships and Supply Chain Management in the Fast Fashion Industry

Customer Relationships and Supply Chain Management in the Fast Fashion Industry

Elisa Arrigo (University of Milan-Bicocca, Italy)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5619-0.ch001

Abstract

Since the 1990s, the concept of customer relationship management (CRM) has emerged in the marketing literature by stimulating the interest of the academic community. It involves the integration of supply chain functions in order to achieve a greater efficiency in delivering and improving customer value. This chapter focuses on the fast fashion industry that represents a fascinating domain in which to investigate the management of customer relationships due to its particular features of short life cycle products, volatile demand, and high level of impulse purchase. In order to grow in the long term, fast fashion companies deal with a wide range of information to develop a good understanding of market trends. To date, few studies have examined CRM in the fast fashion industry, and thus, this research is addressed to contribute to filling this gap. The analysis of the key functions of fast fashion supply chains from a CRM perspective has been carried out and findings have highlighted an interesting strategic shift from simply meeting customers' needs to driving customers' behaviors.
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Introduction

Since the 1990s, customer relationship management (CRM) has been considered increasingly to be relevant to companies willing to improve their profits through long-term customer relationships (Knox et al., 2007; Coltman, Devinney, & Midgley, 2011; Frow, Payne, Wilkinson, & Young, 2011; Payne & Frow, 2013). CRM involves building one-to-one relationships with customers that can drive value for the firm (Kumar, 2010; Kumar & Reinartz, 2016).

In current business environment, companies invest in CRM systems as strategic tools useful to process customer information and develop customer relationships (Soltani & Navimipour, 2016). In fact, CRM incorporates the integration of supply-chain functions in order to achieve a greater efficiency in delivering and improving customer value.

To date, few articles have focused on studying customer relationships in the fast fashion industry and have been centred on examining mainly the changes in customers’ lives (Sheridan, Moore, & Nobbs, 2006; Joung, 2014; Mcneill & Moore, 2015; Chang & Fan, 2017). This research aims at contributing to fill this gap by investigating CRM in the fast fashion industry from a strategic management perspective.

Fast fashion is a fascinating field of research due to its particular features of short life cycle products, volatile demand, and unpredictability, and high level of impulse purchase (Barnes & Lea-Greenwood, 2006, 2010; Cachon & Swinney, 2011; Arrigo, 2016). In order to grow in the long term, fast fashion companies have to acquire a good knowledge of market trends and satisfy and anticipate customer needs better than competitors (Arrigo, 2016). To reach this purpose, since fashion is highly perishable and the demand highly uncertain, they must minimize the lead times (the time from the product design stage and its arrival in the store) (Mehrjoo & Pasek, 2016) and shape responsive supply chains able to carry garments quickly to the market.

The chapter is organized as follows: after the Introduction, Section 2 analyses the theoretical background on customer relationship management, fast fashion business model, and fast fashion supply chain management. Section 3 examines how fast fashion companies deal with their customer relationship management and, finally, Section 4 draws the conclusions.

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