Sunday, January 21, 2007

Zappos and embracing chaos

Chris Anderson has another great Longtail post about Zappos' strategy for organizing their inventory. They don‘t:

Having just read David Weinberger's great new book, after which this post is named, one of the things that struck me most about Zappos was the way it organizes its massive warehouse. It doesn't. The shoes are placed randomly on the shelves.
Sure, Zappos experimented with various taxonomies and organizational systems, but none of them scaled. New shoes came in and old shoes went out, seasons changed and so did styles. When a vendor creates a new line, you can't just shift everything down to make room for it next to the old line. When a line is discontinued there's no way to pull everything up to fill in the space. Short of reorganizing the entire warehouse with every twitch of the marketplace, no ordered system was better than any other at accommodating change.

Sounds exactly like the future of knowledge management. Instead of a UPC code you do it with tags. Be like Zappos and make “peace with messiness”. Wikipedia with its flatness figured this out so many years ago. Is there any other system that will scale? (I‘ve asked the world more than once for the alternative and have yet to get a single suggestion.)

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