Prada – the Devil Is in the Details

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Prada – The Devil is in the Details …

Prada estimates its sales per year at $22 million (as of ~2001). The luxury retailer recently spent millions on IT for its futuristic “epicenter” store—but the flashy technology turned into a high-priced hassle. The company needed to generate annual sales of $75 million by 2007 to turn a profit on its new high-tech investment. When Prada opened its $40 million Manhattan flagship, hotshot architect (“star-chitect”) Rem Koolhaas promised a radically new shopping experience. And he kept the promise—though not quite according to plan. Customers were soon enduring hordes of tourists, neglected technology, and the occasional thrill of getting stuck in experimental dressing rooms. A few of the problems associated with the store: * Fickle Fitting Rooms – doors that turn from clear to opaque confuse shoppers and frequently fail to open on cue. * Failed RFID – touch screens meant to spring to life when items are placed in the RFID “closets” are often just blank. * Pointless PDAs – Salesclerks let the handheld devices gather dust and instead check the stockroom for inventory. * Neglected Network – a lag between sales and inventory systems makes the wireless network nearly irrelevant. This was not exactly the vision for the high-end boutique when it debuted in December 2001. Instead, the 22,000 square foot SoHo shop was to be the first of four “epicenter” stores around the world that would combine cutting-edge architecture and 21st century technology to revolutionize the luxury shopping experience. Prada poured roughly 25 percent of the store’s budget into IT, including a wireless network to link every item to an Oracle inventory database in real-time using radio frequency (RFID) tags on the clothes. The staff would roam the floor armed with PDAs to check whether items were in stock, and customers could do the same through touch screens in the dressing rooms. But most of the flashy technology today sits idle,...
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