Customization in Retail Fashion

Back in the year 2006, when I was working for eYantra (which is a firm specializing in brand merchandise for corporates and corporate gifting), the buzzword in the merchandising industry was customization.

If it was a good looking merchandise, then it’s value rose by nearly 30%-50% if you could customize it to the customers needs. That was the time we got into a narrow niche of branded merchandise. Everything from iPhones to t-shirts used to be branded by the target corporate’s brand logo (as defined by their marketing team’s brand logo guidelines).

The going was good, and soon we had acquired our series A round of funding. This obviously attracted other players and companies based completely on customization were formed – companies such as (whose ads you see even today). Needless to say that Myntra has grown beyond customization and is now almost a full blown e-commerce portal.

It’s been almost 6 years since and I had almost forgotten about the retail and fashion industry. That was until I came across this smart company – they specialize in providing woven labels with the text customized as per your needs. You can check this site out – look here. The thing is that woven labels is not a new idea, in fact they have been around in Britain (in Coventry) for more than a century now.

The cool thing about these labels, is that you can order any amount you want and have them customized right there on that site. There is almost zero manual intervention in the order placement process and that’s what makes a strong case for customization in the retail markets.

If this kind of technology and business processes were there in India, then it would have taken the branding and merchandising market by storm. In a developing economy wherein almost everything needs to be branded, having a custom made woven label takes the branding experience in retail merchandise to the next level. The good part about developing economies is that they have ready access to the developed markets to look at successful business models.

In fact this idea is so awesome, I won’t be surprised if I start seeing a Label Yourself outlet in India within a few years!

War of the MMOs

More than seven years back Blizzard launched the World of Warcraft. What initially started off as a small campaign within the Warcraft 3: Frozen Throne game, suddenly shadowed the entire Warcraft RTS series … Blizzard had struck on a gold mine with the Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG), a game which would later on be synonymous with the entire category … World of Warcraft took the real world by storm, and at its zenith it was known to have more than 12 million monthly subscribers.

Yes, the bad part about this was that there is a monthly subscription to play the game, and more than 12 million people were gladly willing to part ways with their 15 USD per month to fight the forces of evil and defend the lands of Azeroth.

Over the period of years, the game put on several features and became easier to play … this attracted a lot of new users (including me!), but it also detracted a lot of the previous loyal following that the game had. After 3 successful patches (Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm), the game’s growth in popularity suddenly started sputtering. After over a year’s launch of Cataclysm, the game subscriptions started dipping … now at a figure of 9 million users (that’s a drop of 25% in users folks!), the people at Blizzard are getting worried about the launch of their next patch … Mists of Pandaria.

With this drop in users, there came in a distinct need for other MMOs, something which would stave gamers’ need for playing online games. Thus followed a slew of MMORPGs … Guild Wars (I and II), Rift, Dungeons and Dragons, Vanguard, Star Wars, Torchlight 2 … the list seems to go on.

I have seen quite a few of them and though most of the games differ slightly in game play with World of Warcraft, I think almost every one of those games have borrowed elements from the game. Mounts, factions, guilds, dungeons … these are the things that the good folks at Blizzard had already thought of … to make a WoW Clone goes ahead and fuels WoW’s popularity … in the end, the only game which ends up winning this War of MMOs, is WoW … not because of only being the first successful MMO, but also it has become the de facto genre defining game.

All the other MMOs that I have seen copy from WoW. If a new MMO were to be launched which would be drastically different from WoW, I wonder what would happen to its popularity? Or perhaps, thats what the hush-hush secret Project Titan is intended to do.