At the present, consumers are assailed by a variety of mass produced items ranging from shoes, clothes and food to electronics, bed covers and a plethora of other products that an average consumer may need. From the perspective of Kotha, mass production on a global scale of consumer products has enabled goods to be produced more cheaply resulting in consumers getting access to an assortment of items that they otherwise would not be able to afford (Kotha 23).
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However, as of late there has been a trend in market production wherein aside from mass production, mass customization has been an endeavor where companies attempt to gain a market advantage over their competitors by offering product lines that enable customers to be more “unique” and thus appeals to a higher form of demand among consumers (i.e. the desire to be different) (Liu, Shah and Schroeder 681).
The different types of customization encompass a variety of retail products such as shows, clothes, food, and even beauty products. Utilizing a similar strategy to their mass produced brethren, these products also utilize the same delivery systems (i.e. FedEx, UPS, etc.) and ordering mechanisms (i.e. online websites) that have become synonymous with modern day methods of product retailing (Chinnaiah and Kamarthi 292).
However, it must be questioned whether this trend in product customization would actually be successful in the long run. It is based on this that this paper will utilize Amazon.com as the independent variable for examination with sites with customized applications for selling custom products will be the dependent variable.
Through a comparison of price, delivery time and amount of effort needed in order to purchase a mass produced product or a customized product, it is anticipated that this paper will be able to showcase the likely success or failure of these sites and correlate it with potential the success of product customization as means of generating sales.
Converse Customized Shoe versus Converse from Amazon.com
The first customizable product site to be examined is Converse.com and its Hi Canvas customized shoe application. Using the shoe designer application on the site, the shoe seen above was created with an initial cost of $75, a delivery fee of $5.95 and a delivery time of 2 to 3 weeks.
When it came to the information required by the site for delivery, it merely asked for the address and the shoe size needed. Overall, the process itself was actually quite easy and it can be seen that converse placed a lot of effort into ensuring that customers can easily get the type of product they want in a convenient fashion.
In comparison, Amazon.com sold a show with a similar design for $54.99 with free delivery and can arrive at your home within 2 to 3 days upon ordering the product. Amazon.com also allows users to choose the shoe size and the purchasing process is just as easy when compared to Converse.com. When examining both products, it can be seen that the quality is the same yet the mass produced version sold via an online retailer is far cheaper and you can get the product faster.
Truthartbeauty.com Customized Raspberry Eye balm versus Amazon.com Eye balm
It is surprising to note that when comparing the customized eye balm from truthartbeauty.com with a similar branded eye balm from Amazon.com, the one from the former was actually cheaper than the one from the latter. The product price of Amazon.com’s “Skinceuticals Eye Balm Rehabilitative Emollient for Aging Skin” is $53 while the one from truthartbeauty.com was only $50.
Do note that the one from truthartbeauty.com contains significant levels of product customization resulting in a product type that is simply not available on Amazon.com based on the level of customization involved.
The problem with Truthartbeauty.com is that it requires members to go through a very rigorous process of registration before buying a product. As explained by Ribeiro, when it comes to an online shopping experience, customers want something that is easy and does not take much of a hassle to accomplish. The more “hoops they have to jump through” so to speak, the less likely they are to purchase a product or patronize a service (Ribeiro 42).
Evidence of the effectiveness of this approach was seen in the case of Amazon.com wherein its previous requirement of having customer register was eschewed in favor of making the process of product purchasing that much easier. In the case of this product, the level of customization involved that allows customers to get exactly what they want seems to be far better than the mass produced variety sold on Amazon.com
Zazzle.com t-shirt versus Amazon.com t-shirt
Zazzle.com is a site where you can upload your own personal designs to have a t-shirt printed with the design on it. This is a service not available on Amazon.com resulting in the potential creation of various unique t-shirts. After utilizing their online t-shirt designer, a single white t-shirt with the design seen below will cost $18.95 with a 4 to 7 day delivery. However, the delivery cost is pretty high at around $5 or more depending on your location. It can be free though if you order $50 worth of their merchandise.
In comparison, a white t-shirt bought on Amazon.com with a similar white and black design cost $5.79 with free delivery. The shirt that was found can be seen below:
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Since it would have been possible to download a similar image and utilize it on Zazzle.com to produce the same shirt, it can be stated that the product customization of the site is a bit expensive. Not only that, similar to the case of truthartbeauty.com, an extensive registration process is also required on the site.
This of course detracts from the overall appeal of using Zazzle.com since it makes it far more difficult to get what you need. However, when it comes to someone that wants to look unique and utilize a design that they made on their own t-shirts, it can be stated that Zazzle.com provides exactly the type of service that a person like that could want.
When going over everything that has been presented to so far, it can be seen that mass produced products sold through a large online retailer at times far cheaper, get to customers quicker and are easier to obtain as compared to the various “hoops” that customers of customized product sites have to go through in order to get their products.
However, the level of customization involved in these sites that allows customers to get exactly what they want without having to settle for something “less ideal” is a definite drawing point and it can be concluded that so long as some customers want something that is “unique” to them and them alone, then these product customization sites will undoubtedly continue to be profitable in the niche markets that they are involved in.
Chinnaiah, Pratap S. S., and Sagar V. Kamarthi. “Mass Customization And Manufacturing.” Innovations in Competitive Manufacturing. 283-296. Print
Kotha, Suresh. “Mass Customization: Implementing The Emerging Paradigm For Competitive Advantage.” Strategic Management Journal 16.(1995): 21-42. Print
Liu, Gensheng, Rachna Shah, and Roger G. Schroeder. “The Relationships Among Functional Integration, Mass Customisation, And Firm Performance.” International Journal Of Production Research 50.3 (2012): 677-690. Print
Ribeiro, Liliana. “Mass Customization: Modularity In Development Of Fashion Products.” International Journal Of Management Cases 16.2 (2014): 41-45. Print