Being the clear leader within the e-commerce industry, Amazon.com has consistently improved their top line revenues as they expand their market to nearly anything people could possibly be looking to purchase online. From same day delivery of groceries, to an entire library of downloadable games, music, movies, and applications, they have managed to fortify their moat from the competition by swiftly adopting new approaches and technologies as they emerge.
For a few months now Amazon has been offering 3D printed items within their marketplace. With that said, really what they were offering were pieces of plastic which had few, if any, customization option available, making the products not much different than a typical plastic object you could find anywhere else.
Last night that all changed, when Amazon rolled out the ‘Creative Expressions‘ section of their 3D Printing Store. The store still includes some of the items which are not fully customizable, however, there are many new items in the new section, which allows customers to practically design their products however they’d like. The items, that are fully customizable, will have an additional button above the typical ‘Add to Cart’ button saying ‘Personalize now’. When clicked, all sorts of tools will pop up, along with a 3D model which can be rotated in any direction the customer chooses. For instance, if you were to go to the page for the 3D Printed Molecular Earrings, and select the ‘Personalize now’ button, you would be given the option to change any of the following:
- Color/Finishing – Stainless Steel, Gold Plated Matte, or Bronze Plated Steel
- Type of Molecule – 10 to choose from
- Molecule Orientation – Determines where on the molecule the hoop will be placed
- Atom Diameter – Size of each atom
- Bond Thickness – Thickness of bond lines
- Hoop Diameter – Size of the hoop for the earring
“The introduction of our 3D Printed Products store suggests the beginnings of a shift in online retail – that manufacturing can be more nimble to provide an immersive customer experience. Sellers, in alignment with designers and manufacturers, can offer more dynamic inventory for customers to personalize and truly make their own,” said Petra Schindler-Carter, Director for Amazon Marketplace Sales. “The 3D Printed Products store allows us to help sellers, designers and manufacturers reach millions of customers while providing a fun and creative customer experience to personalize a potentially infinite number of products at great prices across many product categories.”
Literally there are hundreds of thousands , if not millions of different combinations someone could create. Once personalized, the 3D printed products will ship for free, but take approximately 1-3 weeks before being sent out. For now it appears that all of the fully customized products, which include all sorts of different types of jewelry, as well as bobblehead dolls, are created in partnership with Mixee Labs, however several other companies including Sculpteo are offering 3D printed items through Amazon.
“The online customer shopping experience will be redefined through 3D printing. When you take into consideration the investment needed for manufacturing products, 3D printing offers a cost effective alternative that benefits customers by limitless product options,” said Clément Moreau, CEO and co-founder of Sculpteo, headquartered in San Francisco and Paris. “Amazon’s deep understanding of customers coupled with Sculpteo’s fast, high-quality manufacturing process offers an unprecedented level of product possibilities for customers. With 3D printing, a customer’s wants are no longer limited to what is in stock but instead by what they can imagine.”
This is certainly a major step for Amazon, in taking advantage of the true benefits that 3D printing can offer in an e-commerce environment. It will be interesting to see how far they expand this, and if they eventually take on companies like Shapeways.
Have you ordered anything from Amazon’s 3D Printing Store? Let us know how the products turned out, in the Amazon 3D printing forum thread on 3DPB.com.
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