February 28, I had the opportunity of being the closing speaker at the FutuRetail conference which took place at the brand new Google headquarters in London. The day was filled with a host of interesting speakers. But having been challenged by the organisers to close the day on a truly "thought provoking" topic, I ventured into a thought experiment on the impact of 3D printing on the retail industry.
For me three things emerged from this:
- When putting together this presentation I realised that the 3D game "has started". Even discounting all the hype surrounding the topic, 3D consumer applications are getting first traction, and in 5-10 years they will be part of the mainstream.
- Talking to large and small retailers at the event, I expected my message to be met with a smirk. But the openness to look at practical applications of 3D in retail already exists today. In fact, a number of people came up to me to discuss first experiments to integrate 3D printed products into their offer. This is a retailer insight brands shouldn't ignore.
- Even in a world of 3D printed e-commerce, physical stores will be around. Their role may evolve, but at the end of the day both technology and "a human touch" are part of many customer experiences. Anyone who wants to exclude one or the other, is asking for trouble.
Anyway, have a look at the presentation and let me know what you think. I'd love to hear your views and ideas.