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

Why customer experience driven growth is set to take off

Our overall brand perceptions are invariably shaped by our experiences. And loyal customer relationships can be severed in moments by a negative service interaction.

Consistency and conversation: How branding and advertising can work better together

Advertising and branding are two of the most visible outputs of marketing, which is why getting them right is so important. However, too often the line between branding and advertising becomes blurred. This means advertising activity can be out of sync with brand, resulting in poor results for both functions.

Dan Ratner

managing director, uberbrand

Putting your brand on the Love Index

How much do your customers love your brand, product or service?And more importantly, why?

Bronwyn van der Merwe

Managing director, Accenture Interactive

Someone needs a swift kick up the bum for such an idiotic idea.

random

​Why a degree is no longer enough to get you hired as a skilled marketer

Read more

The frequent flyer programs are the new profit machines for airlines all over the world, as they have morphed to be mass marketing machin...

Steve@iFLYflat

Velocity frequent flyers program strong performer in mixed half-year for Virgin

Read more

Hi Jennifer, thanks for sharing these info regarding the digital marketing trends.I've created a related video to this topic, would you m...

Fabio Carry

Predictions: 17 digital marketing trends for 2017

Read more

Great news. Marketing automation can be very useful for companies at various stages of development. With so many tools out there it's bet...

Ben

How HBF rolled out marketing automation in eight months

Read more

I read a report that the business sector in Australia as a whole have yet to fully harness and see the proactive change that predictive a...

Alex Martin

Report: Predictive analytics, IoT, machine learning battle it out for marketing dollars

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in