The draw of ecommerce has always been convenience. Why leave the house and fight the crowds of shopping malls when you can sit in your pajamas and have your purchases delivered right to your home? The allure is simply too great to ignore, and that’s why some of the biggest brick-and-mortar brands in the world have turned to ecommerce.
Think about it: Walmart, Best Buy, Macy’s, and Target all have healthy online sales. They also offer something a little extra to help buyers get their purchases faster for free. Ordering online for pickup at the store lets buyers skip the wait. A little instant gratification goes a long way, doesn’t it?
In fact, that ability to receive purchases right away was something Amazon couldn’t offer. Without brick-and-mortar stores, there wasn’t a central hub for pickups. But that didn’t slow the ecommerce giant down. They’re still the king of innovation, and they’re determined to stay that way.
Amazon Prime Now
Though not yet available everywhere, Amazon’s Prime Now is definitely a step in the right direction. See, ecommerce shoppers might want instant gratification, but they’d still like to get it while staying at home. The beauty of Prime Now is that shoppers can order whatever they like from the Amazon app and receive it an hour later. The list of products is long and does include grocery items.
Only the larger cities around the country are offering Prime Now, but we’re sure that will change soon. Before long, anyone anywhere will be able to order what they need and receive it within the hour. That’s probably less time than needed to shower and drive to the store.
Still, as forward thinking as Amazon Prime Now is, it may not be the end-all in instant gratification.
How Does 3D Printing Fit?
Amazon did dabble a little in 3D printing for ecommerce, but the technology just wasn’t up to par. However, we can be sure this is coming. Some companies have introduced limited products for 3D printing, with some of the options included being iPhone cases, costume jewelry, and even guitars.
The current technology available just doesn’t lend itself to self-printed products. First, the 3D printers developed for home use can only do so much. Of course, the more a consumer pays for the printer, the better the quality will be. Even then, sizes are limited and require assembly after printing.
Next, there’s the issue with materials needed for printing. While 3D printers can work with various materials, they’re not always easy for the general consumer to find. That limits the types of products that may be purchased and printed. Still, we have a glimpse of the future now. How will the 3D printer change ecommerce when consumers have access to high quality printers and printing materials? Will we even wait for Amazon Prime Now to deliver, or will we print our own products immediately after buying?
As the time between want and own grows ever shorter, these are the questions retailers must ask. Can retailers keep up with consumers who want to print their own products at home rather than wait on a delivery? Only time will tell.
Originally published Jan 20, 2016 7:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017