Will 3D printing be good for retail?

Retailers will identify ways to use the technology to actually drive more customers to storefronts, according to a c-level exec at Tesco

Mike McNamara, CIO of the British grocery retailer Tesco, says 3D printing will help his company and the retail sector at large.

In an interview with British news site V3, McNamara said retailers will soon start making use of 3D printing technology in-stores.

"I think over the next few years you will see 3D printing in shops, because for the missing hose from the vacuum printer, you can print them in the time that someone enters the store, does a bit of shopping and leaves the store," McNamara told V3. "So I can definitely see that being part of the retail offering in the none too distant future."

Comparing the recent rise of 3D printing to the advent of the Internet and smartphones, McNamara says retailers will identify ways to use the technology to actually drive more customers to storefronts, as opposed to making brick-and-mortar retail shops obsolete.

"I think it will help Tesco as a company, I don't think it will be a bad thing," he told V3. "It'll be a great thing for customers, we'll have 3D printing in our stores. As retailers you'll always adapt."

McNamara's comments contradict the opinions of many experts who see the potential for consumer 3D printing as a death knell for the traditional retail store, as it will enable customers to bypass both retail stores and intellectual property by sharing design files for products and printing them at home.

At the Inside 3D Printing conference in July, legal expert John Hornick warned of the impact of at-home 3D printing on the retail business model. Using the example of toys, many of which are small, made of plastic and easy to replicate on a 3D printer, he says anyone who owns an at-home 3D scanner and printer can buy one toy at a retail store and sell hundreds of copies for profit on the black market.

"IP will be ignored, and it will be impractical or impossible to enforce if you can print things away from control," Hornick said at the time.

To be fair, McNamara's recent comments don't necessarily address what retailers will do if and when 3D printers become accessible to consumers. He told V3 that he still thinks mainstream adoption of at-home 3D printers is "still a way away."

Indeed, many others think the recent hype around consumer 3D printing does not represent its reality, which Gartner says will soon enter the "trough of disappointment" in the technology hype cycle.

In the meantime, McNamara believes retailers will make the best of the situation before it threatens them.

"Physical stores won't disappear," he told V3. "To see this as a fight between physical and digital is to see it all wrong. Already today 65 percent of our online orders are click and collect."

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

How to keep your B2B marketing job for the next 5 years

B2B marketers are in the hot seat. As the customers’ buying journey shifts online, B2B marketers must exert influence and build trust with their prospects in a new way.

Collective Intelligence: The power of smarter, quicker team thinking

When we think about the bottom line in business, the immediate jump is fiscal performance. But if you're serious about future-proofing your business, then you need to be ready to think outside the box of traditional success measures.

Janine Garner

Founder and CEO, LBDGroup and author

Can the data-led creative please stand up?

The data land grab is full steam ahead. Media agencies, brands and tech players are all scrambling over one another to develop data and insights capabilities and to own the space.

What TWE fails to understand is the basic difference between a product and a brand. They fail to understand what consumer's are seeking f...

Ed Donegan

CMO Interview: Changing the culture from wine-making to brand building at Treasury Wine Estates

Read more

Dont' count this resource out when considering the best forms of on line advertising.check it out here: wheredoifindsolutions.com (...

Nanci Felthauser

3 lessons for marketers from the most creative digital ads for 2015

Read more

I like their campaign about empowering startups and seeking out small business based on set criteria that they think will change their co...

Hitesh Parekh

Can brand builders do well and do good?

Read more

This is a really an innovative idea on the part of Vodafone to test the customer satisfaction level.The Vodafone is a leading telecom g...

Schultzy beckett

Vodafone uses data analytics to enhance the customer journey

Read more

Great article. Interactive videos will be the next big thing for engaging B2B & B2C audiences. IV videos with a questionnaire style f...

Revolution Video

3 lessons for marketers from the most creative digital ads for 2015

Read more

Sign in