I must first give the credit for this post to Natasha for her post about an online store. She suggested that the site offer a place where customers could design their own product (in this case, clothing) so they could have something they wanted without necessarily having to learn the skills necessary to create it. Basically, she described what I would call a virtual suggestion box.
One of the ideas I have found quite cool, for lack of a more articulate term, about the entrepreneurial orientation research I've been reading is that it mentions how companies can utilize their customers ideas to be more entrepreneurial. Many companies have surveys, others have suggestion boxes near the entrances or exits, and some allow customers to customize or personalize their purchases for a fee. Harnessing the creative power among customers could truly help a lot of businesses increase sales, improve profitability, and raise customer satisfaction. The virtual design center at IKEA.com provides a great example of how companies can help customers visualize their design of a room. Certainly clothing companies could hire some programmers to develop an interface that allows consumers to start from a basic idea (some outfit already on the market, perhaps) and input a few measurements to help with appropriate fitting. Then they could adjust certain areas of the outfit (e.g., add more material to the sleeve, lengthen the bottom of a shirt, or fluff out a pant leg) to make it more personal and (ideally) more satisfying as a purchase. How many women go shopping for hours to find one or two perfect outfits? I can imagine them spending those hours designing dozens of them instead. With an ensemble function, they could design all the pieces of a whole outfit. They could even accessorize right there online, all while sitting in their comfy sweats at home. Just imagine the new meaning of a day of shopping with girlfriends. They all gather at one house, let the kids play together and then surf the web together designing clothes.
In fact, I am guessing this idea is far too brilliant to not at least be in the works. If I were more interested in clothing, I might spend some time surfing clothing designers' websites looking for such a feature. Instead, I want to simply put the idea out there, admire the brilliance of it (it wasn't my idea, after all), and maybe after I've spent some time in a doctoral program, I could even research the companies that decide to take the suggestion to see whether they are, in fact, more profitable as a result. I suppose this could be my first "experiment" as a researcher.