Mass Customization in eCommerce

The idea behind mass-customization is to create specific products based on the customer’s needs and to deliver that product quickly. Personalization is where the customer’s preferences are aligned with the products being advertised.

Personalization is quite common on Social Media like Facebook or Google. If you mention on FaceBook that you’re thinking about buying a car, you will begin to see ads for cars on your FaceBook site. Likely you will also see those ads on Google as they see what topics I’m searching.  What is interesting about personalization is not that neither Google nor FaceBook really care, nor does the advertiser, who you are, they just care that you’ve expressed an interest in a topic. The advertiser has bought certain keywords from either Google or FaceBook so that when those keywords are used that advertisers ads will appear.  The FaceBook user is unknown to the advertiser until the user decides to let the advertiser know their identity.

Knowledge of your interests can be kept in on a cookie that contains as a user profile and is put on your hard drive of your computer, frequently without you knowing about it or without your permission (Turban, 2012). Some sites do it differently. Amazon, for instance, uses your past buying history to determine the ads or suggestion you see. Google just simply relies on current information as you’re browsing. Personalization also extends to cell phones, tablets, and other forms of digital media (Personalization-Wikipedia, 2016).

Mass-customization is where the customer gets to order a product based on their preferences and it is usually delivered within a short period of time (McCarthy, 2004). Dell Computers is a prime example of a company that has mass-customization down to a science (Mass-Customization-Wikipedia, 2016). The customer will place an order for a laptop that contains certain features they prefer. The customer pays for the order via credit card; Dell sends the order to the factory which produces the ordered laptop. The laptop is then shipped to the customer, usually within 1 week. Mass customization aims to deliver customized products while using the efficiency of mass production (Chen, 2009). The idea is to be to control the costs of production while also meeting the demands of the market.

Amazon’s critical success factors are in its basic challenge: How does it sell consumer goods online and show a profit and decent return on investment. Amazon sells in three basic categories: media, electronics, and other products including Kindle, office supplies, cameras, and toys (Turban, 2012). Amazon has to ensure that it is the innovator in the field constantly staying ahead of the competition in offering a broad variety of products, make it easy to buy from them and even allow the customer to easily return products when not satisfied. This is a good strategy as it makes it a one stop shop online. One just needs to look at Wal-Mart or Target to see the success of one stop shopping. By making it easy to do business with them, Amazon makes it the destination of choice whenever one is shopping, wherever one is shopping. The shopper can access Amazon via their smartphone in Wal-Mart and do comparison shopping right on the spot; even buy it while standing in the store. All of this makes it so that Amazon will continue to grow into the foreseeable future (Amazon-Wikipedia, 2016).

Having recently bought an iPhone 6S+ I was able to go to the Apple website and view the phone, see the different features, and weigh various price breaks. From their website I was able to make the decision between the smaller versions versus the bigger versions by viewing the differences online. But full trust in what I was buying didn’t occur until I went to the Apple store to actually touch and feel the product.

One way that online retailers have solved the problem of trust is by allowing shoppers to buy and easily return, satisfaction guaranteed. Zappos is a prime example of where a customer can buy several sizes of the same shoe, try them on, and return those items that don’t satisfy (Zappos-Wikipedia, 2015). Online trust is difficult to achieve due to the fact that a potential customer cannot touch or examine the product. Without a good return policy, many people will simply not buy the product. Another good policy is allowing customers to rate the product. Amazon encourages and publishes customer opinions on their purchases because they know it encourages others to buy.

References:

Amazon.com – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (2016, February 11). Retrieved February 11, 2016, from

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon.com
Chen, S., Wang, Y., & Tseng, M. (2009). Mass customisation as a collaborative engineering effort.

International Journal of Collaborative Engineering, 1(1), 152.

Mass customization – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (2016, January 4). Retrieved February 11, 2016,

from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_customization

McCarthy, I. P. (2004). Special issue editorial: the what, why and how of mass customization. Production

Planning & Control, 15(4), 347-351. doi:10.1080/0953728042000238854

Personalization – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (2016, February 11). Retrieved February 11, 2016, from

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personalization

Turban, E. (2012). Electronic commerce 2012: A managerial and social networks perspective. Upper Saddle

River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Zappos – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (2015, December 15). Retrieved February 11, 2016, from

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zappos

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