Nike’s "Express Lane" To Cut Product Time-to-market Down To A Few Weeks


Mark Parker has a knack for finding the right buzz words. The Nike boss, who succeeded founder Phil Knight as the head of the world sporting giant, took the opportunity offered by the presentation of the group’s second quarter results to outline his strategy for optimising Nike products’ time-to-market, labelled “Express Lane”.

“We know that speed is critical to our customers, he said. It is what drove us to create a host of business initiatives based on flexibility and speed, at all levels within our group. For example, we have introduced a system we call ‘Express Lane’ which allows us to cut down to a few weeks, rather than months, the time between [a product’s] design and its availability on the shelves. Express Lane is a significant competitive advantage, and in this quarter it allowed us to launch a new shoe model called ‘LunarCharge’, which was well received by consumers.”

For the LunarCharge shoe, the time between design and market availability has reportedly been four times shorter than usual. As part of a global focus on responding to new trends as quickly as possible, Nike regularly highlights, as Adidas does too, its efforts designed to offer new solutions to its clients.

For the time being, the Express Lane system is applied to footwear only, but Nike’s top management stated that it would also be adopted for the rest of the group’s range, including apparel products.

The ‘LunarCharge’ was the first shoe to benefit from the Express Lane system.

Nike is always busy launching new models, and its management seems keen to become even sharper at this game. “It all stems from consumers, who do not ask for more products, but for more choice in the products they love,” said Mark Parker. “Our response is to offer unique options on fewer products. It is an approach we call ‘Edit to Amplify’. Reducing the number of items while emphasising the key elements within product concepts has a huge impact across our entire value chain.”

This approach is clearly beneficial for Nike regarding profitability, especially in the North American market, where the group has invested in setting up the Manrev (manufacturing revolution) project that kicked off last year, striking a deal with US high-tech manufacturer Flex.
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