The Galleria Vittorio Emanuel II shopping mall and the side street shops that we had visited on our first full day of Italy were somewhat similar but also very different from one another. The Galleria shopping mall was very luxurious from the first moment we saw it. The Galleria had grand detailing in the walls, floors, and and even the ceiling had clear glass to see the sky.
Inside the Galleria were luxurious, designer brands such as Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Versace. The Galleria had even more shops wrapped around it as well, such as Tiffany & Company, Armani, and Rolex. Prada’s original shop was even located in this Galleria. The Galleria also was filled with and surrounded by lots of rich history, such as the Unification of Italy and Leonardo DiCaprio’s actual Last Supper painting. The luxury illuminated from every corner, and I felt like the location was extremely extravagant and somewhat touristy due to the internationally known companies and the well known buildings surrounding it (like the breathtaking Duomo, and the world-known opera house!) These retail shops were essentially the last step of the supply chain because it provided a product directly to a customer and from what I had observed, did not produce these products at their shop.
When we went down the less populated side roads from the Duomo, the shop names became less and less familiar, indicating the less American they were. Eventually, we arrived at a purse and leathered goods store where we had the opportunity to go in and have a more interactive session about the supply chain and producing products. We went into a back room which was very small and very filled with fabrics, purses, machines, and purse outlines to trace. We were able to interact with the owner through our tour-guide and translator! We learned that the owner receives all of his leather straight from the tannery, and does all other work on his own. Because of this, the owner falls into various parts of the supply chain. He receives his leather from component suppliers that provide him the rolls of tanned leather in a variety of colors and types of leather, including alligator, snake, and calf. The tannery receives its products from an upstream supplier in Italy or another country(based on the regulations on that material) which raises the animal that will be used to create the bag. After receiving the needed material, the owner then traces out the design and builds the purse. He may also take requests from customers, which would inverse the supply chain because the owner is now taking in information from the consumer that dictates what type and color material he chooses to buy from the tannery. To stud or decorate the bag even more, he may send his finished product to another company, which could be considered a secondary manufacturer, to add the studding effect and send the product back to the owner. The owner sells his own designs and used to send to other retailers when he wasn’t as busy, but mostly acts as a direct customer because he only has time for his own design of purses and custom requests.
Our second shop that we stopped at on the side roads during our tour was IF Bags, named after the two founders Isabella and Francesca. The company buys its leather from a tannery, similarly to the first side shop. They have a “lab” that they own and allows for the leather to be made into the bags in which can be interchanged whenever the customer desires. Their lab acts similarly to a component supplier and their shop acts allows for customers to come in and create a bag in the shop, and therefore creating a blurred line in between being both a direct customer and a primary manufacturer. The company has also began selling to shops and internationally online, making them a direct customer for a downstream customer for the companies they sell to.
While both the galleria and side shops were direct customers in some way, the side shops served many more roles in the supply chain than the galleria shops that were more well known.