Thursday, October 3, 2013

Customers Choose

Reading, “Putting Customers in Charge of Design”, reminded me of multiple of start-ups that put customers in the driver’s seat.  The article mentions several that popped up right after Blank Labels launch and I thought of other companies that have come up offering personalized service.

The one that came to mind, I’ll admit, was showcased on a recent episode of shark tank.  Two women from eCreamery came to pitch their start up idea of delivering personalized ice cream.  For around $50 you can send four personalized containers ice cream for all occasions.  They were also operating an ice cream store on top of their national deliveries.  The sharks did not end up investing for fear of the idea being replicated and the high overhead costs.  But still…what a great idea!  Below is their study gift pack, you can as far as to determine the pint label and create the flavor. 

It does however sound like a production nightmare, having so many individual orders.  But just as in the Blank Label start up, these entrepreneurs were able to control many parts of their supply chain, decreasing their variability. 

Blank Label must be doing well since the New York Times article.  They now have two showrooms, in comparison to the borrowed cut and sew facility in 2010. 

In the article, “Personalized Products Please, but are they Profitable?” the author describes the recent influx of personalized products and lists some of the early fails, such as Levi’s who only offered a good fit, but no other choices.[1]  I remember being in London as a teenager and seeing many customers going in and out the Levi’s store that was said to have some kind of jean machine that made measurements exactly fit to your body. 

The article points out that many who have tried have not made it, but for those that have, they are certainly on to something. [2] “Forrester's study found that more than 35% of U.S. online consumers are interested in customizing product features or in purchasing build-to-order products that use their specifications” (Adage). My question for this week is, if this is the wave, what does this mean for variability in personalized supply chains?  The customer gets exactly what they want, so it seems intuitive to think you could cut down on return variability, but there are additional factors in these supply chains that we don’t see in a traditional get what you get product. 

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