Striving for a “Zero Defect” Culture in Online Retail

by Joe Pendlebury (@theuxchap)

It’s been a really productive and insightful first day of talks at the Internet Retailing Expo 2017, with Luxury Fashion retailer,, being one of the standout presentations.

During his talk, “Going Global with Luxury Fashion Etail”, Michael Kliger, President of, highlighted the importance placed in his company, on striving for a “Zero Defect” culture, and he really hit home the point, with this comment:

“When we make a mistake, we lose the customer”

For any Fashion retailer, a mistake can be costly, but when it comes to Luxury Fashion, there’s a premium price to pay — one that could result in loss of a customer, let alone a sale.

Even so, there’s a distinct difference between the ambition to strive for a “Zero Defect” culture, and the reality of delivering one. Take this quote from American author, Richelle E. Goodrich:

“Many times what we perceive as an error or failure is actually a gift. And eventually we find that lessons learned from that discouraging experience, prove to be of great worth.”

How do you learn from your mistakes, if your aim is to never to make any? It’s inevitable that mistakes will be made. We’re only humans. It’s how you handle them, that’s key.

With that in mind, would it not be a better idea to instil a culture that encourages proactive thinking around how and why, the issue came about in the first place? Only then, can you truly understand how best to solve the problem, in an attempt to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

When we begin to take ownership for our errors (and rectifying them), we stand a much greater chance of delivering better experiences.

Mistakes do and will happen. Sometimes they’re simply unavoidable. There’s little harm in making them, as long as you admit to your wrongdoings, and take action, when you know you’re at fault. Most importantly, learn from your mistakes. Take the time out to reflect, and evaluate your approach, both in the build-up to the mistake being made, and your efforts to rectify it.

One Last Thing…

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