Towards mass personalisation of products and services in fashion retailing

– what are the implications?

Towards mass personalisation of products and services in fashion retailing

Recent studies in retail have identified how mass-personalisation constitutes part of a fourth industrial revolution, which has major implications for the future of retail and consumption. Personalisation is both about a shift towards made-to-order production and about increasing sales and conversion rates online, through customized solutions in designing products, services and websites. At the same time, environmental scientists show how we are exceeding the planetary boundaries, and therefore need to consider sustainability aspects when designing solutions for future businesses.

One of the industries that has been criticised for its unsustainable production and consumption patterns is the fashion industry, which also was an early adapter of personalisation as part of the solution. While the dominant expectation of mass-personalisation is that it leads to more sustainability by reducing excessive volumes and more accurately meeting the demands of the customers, there are indications that there is a backside of personalisation, where it could lead to more consumption rather than less, as it can contribute in creating new demands. Also, another sustainability challenge is how to deal with personalised products in the second-hand market. However, few have investigated the actual implications of a shift towards mass personalisation, a gap that I will address in this project.