Amazon’s 3D Printing Store an Early Success – ‘Thousands & Thousands’ of 3D Printable Items Already Created
Just a couple weeks ago, we reported that Amazon launched a customization option, ‘Creative Expressions‘ within their 3D Printed Products Store. The new ‘Creative Expressions’ section currently only consists of one vendor, Mixee Labs, who allows customers to customize their products, whether it is a mini bobblehead ‘Mixee Me’, a stainless steal ring, or one of a couple dozen other products that they offer.
3DPrint.com recently had the chance to talk with Erik Fairleigh, PR Manager for Amazon Services, about the launch of the new 3D printing marketplace, as well as the customization options that the Creative Expressions section includes. While there are a lot of theories of what Amazon’s “master 3D printing plan” could be, Fairleigh insists that it will be the customers that ultimately decide which direction the company goes.
“Customers on Amazon really drive the direction of the platform, so as customers continue to explore the store, and experience 3D printing, we will continue to get their feedback of what they think of the experience, how they would like the store experience to expand, and what more they want to see,” Fairleigh told 3DPrint.com.
Amazon realizes that for a large percentage of customers who purchase products from their 3D printed product store, it is their first time ever purchasing a 3D printed item. They are interested in seeing what customers’ opinions are of these products, compared to what their expectations were. While Amazon can’t comment specifically about their sales numbers, Fairleigh did say, “I can tell you that we are very happy with the early results.”
Fairleigh also told us that they have had “thousands and thousands of customers create custom Mixee Labs’ bobbleheads already, so it appears as though, thus far, the 3D printed products marketplace has been quite successful. While Mixee Labs is the only vendor that currently offers customizable 3D printed items on the Amazon store, the company has plans to partner with more vendors in the near future. “I think in the coming days and weeks you will see more sellers come in on the store,” said Fairleigh. “I can say that we were contacted by many sellers across a wide spectrum of businesses who were interested in being involved in the 3D printed store.”
Fairleigh emphasized the importance of making the customization options on products as interactive and intuitive as possible, while also ensuring that it is easy enough for the average person to use, so that they don’t get frustrated with the process and abandon their purchase altogether. “We want to make it fun and dynamic, but also something that is user friendly,” he explained.
While Amazon is completely open to seeing more companies come to them with ideas for customized products, and are willing to work with them to create a customization experience that would go hand in hand with their business, they also want to make sure that the products are of high quality. “Amazon has a high customer trust bar, and we want to make sure that sellers that are coming onto the platform can offer a customer experience that meets our bar, and that they can offer a high quality product,” stated Farleigh.
Back in May, we reported on a patent that Amazon had filed for, which was for a marketplace that looked eerily similar to that of what 3D printing marketplace Shapeways currently offers. I asked Fairleigh if Amazon had plans to create a 3D printing service like that of Shapeways. While he wouldn’t commit one way or another, he did say that Amazon is really happy with the way the current system is working. That system requires 3rd party sellers to 3D print their own products or outsource the 3D printing to other firms, while leaving Amazon out of the production of the products completely. He did not rule out a possible “Shapeways-like” system, for Amazon in the future, and stated, “we will have to see how the store evolves.” Again, it will probably be up to the customers to help them decide which direction to go in.
While Fairleigh didn’t want to comment on any specific business, when I asked him whether he views Shapeways as competition or a potential partner, he said, “If any business, including them (Shapeways), wanted to come onto Amazon and be a seller, we would love to work with them, to grow the selection and offer our customers more [options].”
Amazon seems to have entered the 3D printing space at just the right time. It is gaining in popularity, more and more people are aware of the technology, and 3D printers are increasing in quality. The entire 3D printing ecosystem within the Amazon marketplace will probably look totally different in two years from now. Without a doubt though, they are certainly considering all of their potential options, and most importantly seeing what their customers like the most, before deciding on a more permanent business model.
“3D printing as a whole is a really exciting space,” Fairleigh said. “It’s certainly an emerging space and Amazon is looking to offer the world a larger selection. 3D printing raises the bar on that because of customization. There is an infinite amount of products that customers can style and put their own personalization to so we are excited about the possibilities. We are going to see how we can continue to expand the store and really serve the customers.”
What do you think? Do you like what Amazon has done with their 3D printed products marketplace? Do you think they could do more to improve upon the concept? Discuss in the Amazon 3D Printed Product Store forum thread on 3DPB.com.
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