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

10 ways of changing your culture through self-awareness

Did you hear about the manager who always shot the messenger whenever they brought bad news? He eventually stopped hearing bad news. Unfortunately for him, this wasn’t because there was none to report.

Steve Glaveski

Co-founder, Collective Campus

How to create a compelling customer experience vision

Organisations are seeking new ways to engage customers, drive new sales and increase customer satisfaction by providing engaging customer experiences. A customer experience initiative that lacks a strong, clear vision often fails to achieve its intended result.

Olive Huang

Research director, Gartner

Marketers are driving our innovation ecosystem

The Government's newly released National Innovation and Science Agenda shows that for economic growth to continue within Australia, an 'innovation ecosystem' must be fostered, where new businesses with new ideas are encouraged to grow and flourish. With every company wanting to increase, retain or improve their customers’ experiences, this makes marketing vital to fuelling Australia's ideas boom.

Lee Tonitto

CEO, Australian Marketing Institute

Agreed. I see the opposite problem quite often where people are tasked in an organisation just with "be creative" - thus offering no boun...

Dr Fiona Kerr

The great debate: Is data killing creativity?

Read more

By far, this is the best article I've come across so far that has a relevant information regarding the future of marketing. Although the ...

Jayden Chu

​Six ways to prepare for the future of digital marketing

Read more

These are some good ideas. You didn't touch on the overarching goals and results of brand loyalty. This article does a good job at provid...

hgsupport

Four ways to use social media to boost customer loyalty

Read more

This read like a PR PLUG for the agency. Very flowery language for the agency and very little details about the deal or the project.

Digital_Marketer

Why Tourism Victoria decided to go agile

Read more

This is a rather useful article! This prediction made in the digital marketing trend is very important to improve the service that the ag...

Adam Way

Digital marketing predictions – Part 2: Getting the strategy right

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in