SHEIN: Redefining Global Fast Fashion
Case Code: BSTR639
Case Length: 18 Pages
Pub Date: 2022
Teaching Note: Available
Organization : Shein
Industry : Retailing
Countries : China
Themes: E-Business Strategy, International Marketing, Disruption,
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts
This case discusses how China-based online-only fast-fashion retailer SHEIN (Shein) revolutionized the global fast fashion market through its hyper-fast production process, quick delivery times, bargain-basement pricing, and data-driven product offerings. Shein had a presence in more than 220 countries globally. Its success in the global fast fashion market could be attributed to a mix of both savvy social media marketing and strong app features, as well as a wide selection of clothes at prices that met the needs of Gen Z and young millennial shoppers. The retailer generated annual revenue of close to US$10 billion in 2020.
The case explores how Shein found success, evaluating its business model and marketing strategies. Shein adopted the real-time fast fashion model that cut the time from design of a new garment to mass production from 2-3 weeks to just 5-7 days. The retailer responded more quickly to emerging fashion trends than its competitors. It kept tight control on its supply chain processes, with every element of its production chain – from prototype to procurement to manufacturing – being highly digitized and carefully integrated and under its direct supervision. As a result, Shein was able to push out hundreds of new products tailored to consumers’ needs in near-real-time. Shein shunned traditional marketing in favor of online advertising, social media promotions, and tie-ups with celebrities and influencers. The retailer relied heavily on influencer marketing, teaming up with internet stars and celebrities to expand its reach.
Despite its success, accusations of supply chain problems, environmental damage, and design plagiarism continue to haunt Shein. Meanwhile, on social media, there were numerous complaints of poor product quality, which hurt its reputation. Moreover, the firm’s lack of transparency and reclusiveness attracted unwanted media attention, with critics questioning whether Shein’s low prices would be sustainable if high ethical standards were being maintained.
While Shein was looking to disrupt the global fast fashion market, some key challenges before its founder Chris Xu (Chris) were to achieve sustainable growth, deal with sustainability challenges, make profits, and uphold the company’s lead in the online fast fashion industry globally.
The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:
- Understand the basics of fast fashion.
- Understand real-time fast fashion as a concept.
- Study the different types of internet-based business models.
- Evaluate Shein’s business model and understand the factors that contributed to its success.
- Understand the competitive strategies adopted by Shein to establish its presence in the online fast fashion industry.
- Identify the challenges faced by Shein.
- Understand the impact of fast fashion on the environment
Fast Fashion; internet-based business model; strategic management; real-time fast fashion model; competitive strategy; digital marketing; sustainability; ecommerce; International management
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