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Aligning product design with the supply chain: a case study

Omera Khan (Institute of Logistics, Hull University Business School, Hull, UK)
Martin Christopher (Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University, Cranfield, UK)
Alessandro Creazza (Logistics Research Centre, Università Carlo Cattaneo LIUC, Castellanza, Italy)

Supply Chain Management

ISSN: 1359-8546

Article publication date: 27 April 2012




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the alignment between product design and the supply chain and to identify how this alignment impacts on a firm's supply chain responsiveness and resilience.


An in‐depth case study methodology was adopted to uncover the strategies undertaken by one of the UK's fastest growing fashion retailers to create a competitive advantage through its management of the product design/supply chain alignment.


The findings of this case illustrate that not only is the alignment of product design with the supply chain important in improving competitive advantage for the focal company, but it also has a significant impact in improving supply chain resilience and supply chain responsiveness. This case illustrates how fundamental shifts in the organisation, particularly in integrating product design and supply chain have enabled the repositioning of the company from a low priced fashion store to becoming a leading global fast fashion retailer.

Practical Implications

The paper provides guidance for companies seeking to improve supply chain costs and performance by a higher alignment of product design and the supply chain.


This case study highlights the importance of the product design/supply chain alignment and highlights the benefits of adopting a “design centric” approach. The findings from this paper also contribute to the growing debate on supply chain risk management.



Khan, O., Christopher, M. and Creazza, A. (2012), "Aligning product design with the supply chain: a case study", Supply Chain Management, Vol. 17 No. 3, pp. 323-336.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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