Zazzle.com and Mass Customization

A recent Financial Times article (page 14, Dec 8,2010) describes Zazzle.com – an ecommerce company that offers mass customization of products produced on demand. The company creates digital versions of products that customers use to order the physical products.  The article reports that the company offers 34 billion product variants – but these are just digital products until an order for the physical product comes in.  It allows 600,000 individual sellers to create their designs that are sold through the site.  Can the concept be extended from mugs, T-shirts, posters and pens to more sophisticated  products ? After all, Reflect.com was one such site for custom cosmetics that got absorbed back into P&G.   What products would it not work for ? Is there a barrier to entry for such businesses ?

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About aviyer2010

Professor
This entry was posted in Collaboration, Ecommerce, Service Operations and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Zazzle.com and Mass Customization

  1. Roberta says:

    Personalization applications seem to work well for products that are technically complete in development and do not require changes to core drivers to manufacturing costs. For instance, applying an image to a sweatshirt does not change the process from acquiring cotton to assembling the sweatshirt. I could see challenges with applying this model earlier in the development stream where customization in design elements results in loss of efficiencies gained from standardization. For instance, customizing the paint job on a new car or personalizing a set of dishes could work if it did not affect the process leading to final assembly of the car or making a dish; ex. Corel applies a design image with a coating to it’s dishes after they’ve been fired and are technically complete (i.e., can be used in an everyday setting). Lenox, on the other hand, may not be able to apply this model effectively to it’s china in which the final design is integrated early in the manufacturing process of the overall product.

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