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From Fast Company:

"Some day in the future, Ralph Lauren stores may not have any merchandise in them. At least that’s what chief innovation officer David Lauren envisions. Instead, you’ll chat with an in-store expert about the outfit of your dreams - a teal polo or a red linen summer dress, perhaps - and the brand will make it for you on demand …  Lauren’s goal is to let customers create the product of their dreams from scratch, a reality he believes is only a few years away. Ralph Lauren is currently piloting 'Create Your Own' garments online. Over the holidays, customers were able to design their own outerwear, mixing and matching hundreds of colors option to create down vests and jackets. And last month, Ralph Lauren unveiled the custom polo, which lets customers design their own version of the brand’s most iconic product.

"Behind the scenes, Lauren says the company is building out the technology and infrastructure to eventually make all garments on demand. It’s a major investment, but he believes it will give the brand a competitive edge in the years to come."

KC's View:

One of the observations made yesterday at the GMDC/Retail Tomorrow meeting in Dallas was that "omnichannel" no longer is the priority for retailers (because if they're not omnichannel by now, they're dead or dying).  Now, the term of art is "omni-personalization," as companies in all retail channels look for ways to increasingly personalize the products and services they offer.

GQ has a similar story about the Ralph Lauren initiative, and it offers an anecdote about the moment that inspired it:

"Ralph Lauren executive David Lauren remembers this time, maybe 20 years ago, when a customer came into one of the brand’s stores hoping to buy their husband’s favorite polo: navy blue with the red pony logo. But an associate turned her away: sorry, they only had navy with a yellow pony logo that season. She left empty handed. 'I was like, ‘Oh, my God, we just lost a customer,' David says, looking crestfallen."

In the food industry, there may be countless ways in which retailers and manufacturers can work to figure out personalization processes and innovations, especially if a lot of traditional center store sales move online, opening space and energy and funding for new opportunities like these.