Title: Integration challenges of mass customisation businesses: the case of Steppenwolf
Author: Klaus Moser, Frank T. Piller
Technische Universitat Munchen, TUM Business School, Information, Organization and Management (IOM), Leopoldstraße 139, 80804 Munchen, Germany.
MIT Sloan School of Management, 50 Memorial Drive, Room E52–513, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
Journal: Int. J. of Mass Customisation, 2006 Vol.1, No.4, pp.507 - 522
Abstract: Steppenwolf is a pioneer in mass customisation and has been offering custom bicycles since 1995. While being highly successful on the market place, Steppenwolf experienced various operational challenges, resulting to a large extent from dependencies of Steppenwolf on external partners upstream and downstream in the value chain. This case study discusses these integration challenges and some of the measures Steppenwolf introduced to decrease its dependency. Upstream, Steppenwolf is dependent on its suppliers, which are highly consolidated and much larger in scale than most bike manufacturers. Thus, delivery times of components are much longer than response times accepted by the customers. Regarding downstream integration, hurdles result from the need to sell custom products through conventional independent retail stores, which are mass product-dominated. These retailers, however, are often not capable of consulting customers and promoting the benefits of custom bikes. As a result, Steppenwolf had to heavily invest in training and integration activities.
Keywords: mass customisation; bicycle industry; case study; collaboration; supply chain integration; retail integration; custom bicycles; bike manufacturing; training; Germany.