22 03, 2012

The Million Dollar Zazzle Innovation Challenge: And the Winner is … SELVE

By | 2018-06-14T07:13:34+00:00 März 22nd, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Customization Trends, Design, General, MCPC2011, Open/User Innovation, Personalization, T-Shirts, Technologies & Enablers|

Zazzle_bannerToday, the winner of the "One Million-Dollar Zazzle Innovation Challenge" has been announced. The contest was launched during the MCPC 2011 conference and saw an enormous participation with about 1,000 entrants submitting their proposal.

Zazzle_awardDuring the last days, a panel of judges picked the winner, which was presented during a nice ceremony at the Haas School of Business of the UC Berkeley today. At the left, a few impressions of the day:

  • Henry Chesbrough opened the event with a very nice talk about the promise of mass customization;
  • Jeff Beaver from Zazzle addressed the audience and introduced the finalists,
  • Elizabeth Miller, Head of Creative at HASBRO, presented a great talk on the power of personalization and how a large company like Hasbro can benefit from a customization platform like Zazzle.
  • And then the five finalists gave short presentations on their companies and idea — really cool! Just check the videos below to get some ideas.
  • Finally, Dean Richard Lyons of Haas announced the winner!

Five companies have been nominated. Here are their pitches why they should get the 1Mio Zazzle award:

Republic Bike

Everybody loves to ride a bike in the summer. But not everybody loves to ride the same bike. Why not design the bike of your dreams from the convenience of your couch and have it custom-built an shipped to your doorstep? Their pitch: Make bikes as the customers' canvas — and allow then to really create a custom bike.  –> WATCH THE VIDEO


Why do women own so many shoes? Maybe because every one has something special that they like about it. For everybody with limited storing space, Selve offers the opportunity to pack all these special details into one shoe, your shoe.  Their pitch: We did ten years of homework and now have a great product space and manufactuing — and ready for a huge audience.  –> WATCH THE VIDEO


Everybody is different. And every body is different. And if you are a sports enthusiast who wants to give his body exactly the nutrition it needs, YouBar now might have you covered. Their pitch: With YouBars, Zazzle could enter the large growth field of custom food.  –> WATCH THE VIDEO


Do you sometimes wish your fancy iPad, useful as it is, would be a bit more…individual? DODO certainly does and gives you the tools to design your very own, handmade iPad case, that can (but does not have to) look like your favorite book. Their pitch: DODOcase would bring traditional craft to the Zazzle world of mass customization.  –> WATCH THE VIDEO


Few things can personalize a home better than individually designed and crafted pieces of art and assessories. With Designescape's concept including production with modern lasercutters, individually produced home decoration could become an affordable reality soon. Their pitch: Bring laser cutting technologies to the Zazzle platform to do many more amazing things.  –> WATCH THE VIDEO

And the winner is …

SelveIt was really difficult to select a winner, but in the end SELVE was selected as the recipient of the Zazzle Innovation Challenge 2012! Congratulations, and I am sure we soon will learn about the outcomes of this cooperation!  (on the left, Selve founder and CEO Claudia Kieserling who joined by video from Germany)


 Extra:  Amongst the entries that did not make it into the finals, many presented really interesting, funny, creative and/or useful ideas. Honorable mention can especially be given to …

  • Unitedstyles. A plattform for consumer-designers to design fashion, buy their individual pieces and open virtual stores. (Video)
  • Modify Industries, Inc. High-design co-creation of goods with a high grade of interchangable elements.
  • Spek, personal eyewear. Eyeware, personalized in design, fit and shape, using modern 3D printing technologies (Video)
  • Happy Toy Machine. Enables kids and the young at heart to create their own cool, cute, and crazy custom plush toys online. (Video)
  • Easy DIY Nail (Yuan Lu) Individual fingernail design made easy (Video)
  • Fabric on Demand. Affordable custom fabric printing – bring your pictures and designs on fabric (Video)
  • Waggers Pet Products Inc. Give your pet the best you can with individualized pet food.
15 03, 2012

Featured Research: Is your company ready to benefit from an open innovation processes?

By | 2018-06-14T07:13:42+00:00 März 15th, 2012|Cases-Industrial, Crowdsourcing, Featured Research, Open/User Innovation, Research Studies, Technologies & Enablers|

Today I want to continue our little series on new papers dealing with one (or many) aspects of mass customization, open innovation and innovation management. In an act of shameless self promotion, we picked this short management article on some of the key requirements that can decide whether or not a company is ready to benefit open innovation.

EycoverIncreasing innovative capacity: is your company ready to benefit from open innovation processes?

By Philipp Wagner and Frank Piller (RWTH Aachen)

Published in: Ernst & Young Performance Journal, Volume 4, Issue 2
Download full article here at Ernst & Young (very nice layout 🙂

A company’s ability to innovate is key to its success. The strategic and systematic opening up of internal innovation processes to include external knowledge – in other words, open innovation – can result in significant competitive advantages.

Core dimensionsThere is now a whole range of open innovation methods that complement traditional innovation management methods. While there is already considerable evidence of the potential that open innovation offers, many companies still have a comparatively closed innovation process, or are still in the process of transitioning to a more open approach.

In order to exploit the potential of open innovation, the corresponding methods must be tightly integrated into the Innovation management toolbox. Moreover, open innovation calls for a shift in strategic orientation, the organization and companies’ culture. These requirements are not dissimilar to those of traditional innovation management. Open innovation also needs to be planned, managed, monitored and formalized.

In this paper, we have presented a tool that enables companies to assess their readiness for open innovation as a basis for defining targeted internal measures aimed at promoting the benefits of open innovation.

How open the innovation process is depends less on the specific industry involved than on the decision of the management of the company in question. Companies that have been successful in implementing open innovation have reported that creating an open innovation culture is a powerful motivating factor, and that internal cultural barriers and a lack of motivation are the greatest obstacles

In our experience, dealing with external knowledge and external players poses another major challenges for many companies. In practice, the application of open innovation tools does not always lead to the desired results, and the potential theoretically possible is not fully exploited. A company’s readiness to assimilate external information is a key challenge in this regard.

In this paper, my fellow colleague at RWTH Aachen, Philipp Wagner and myself present an audit aimed at helping companies assess their readiness for open innovation and, where necessary, optimize structures and processes.


The articles comments on the factors that determine a company’s actual situation with regard to specific criteria and, by comparing this to a target situation, endeavors to determine the company’s readiness to utilize open innovation successfully and derive suggestions for action from these findings.

==> Download the full article here as a PDF

And a disclaimer: In the present state, our open innovation audit still is a really customized and lengthy consulting project that we are happy to offer to interested companies. But it IT IS NOT A QUICK SCALE that you just can fillout online and then get your readiness score.  We are working on this, too, but at the present stage, we were not satisfied with the results of such a self assessment.

However, such a self assessment is available in form of the Open Innovation Assessment by NineSigma. Have a look there. This is a nice illustration and complementation to our paper.

9 03, 2012

The Market for Mass Customization: Results from the Customization500. Part II: The State of Choice Navigation Toolkits

By | 2018-06-14T07:13:44+00:00 März 9th, 2012|Books, Cases-Consumer, Co-Design Process, Customization Trends, General, Research Studies, Technologies & Enablers|

 (Part 2 in our series with key results from the Customization500 study. Part 1: Some Data on the MC industry structure).

MC 500 cover finalThe Customization500 study (see http://www.mc-500.com) provided us also a very detailed view into the current practice of choice navigation and online configuration. When crunching the numbers, we found a large puzzle:

The reality of toolkits clearly falls behind the broad body of academic research on design parameters of successful toolkits.

You find lots of additional information about the Customization 500 (short: MC500) study in a special section in my blog, www.mc-500.com


How did we evaluate customer satisfaction with a configuration toolkit


We used more than 40 parameters to evaluate the state and design features of each toolkit in our study (Table 3).

Data presented for each Customization 500 company
Table 3: Data collected for each configuration toolkit profile


This objective data was then matched with the performance outcome of the toolkit, i.e. the perception of our trained experts of the configurator.

For this evaluation, we used five criteria to measure the performance of a configuration toolkit in our sample:

(1) visual realism, (2) usability, (3) creativity, (4) enjoyment and (5) uniqueness.

All impressions were measured by our panel of trained expert judges on a 1 to 5 rating scale (1=very low value / 5=very high value).

  • Multiple items: For most of these criteria, we used multiple items to gather the scope of these criteria. Items were grouped and tested with the help of factor and reliability analysis.
  • Inter-rater reliability of these factors was checked with the Intra- Class-Correlation-Coefficient.
  • Performance: Finally, the single factors were combined to one overall performance factor.

In more detail, the five evaluation criteria were constructed as follows:

  • Visual Realism was measured by means of one question “How realistic do you assess the visualization of the configuration process?”
  • To measure usability, the evaluators were asked to rate: "The configurator is (1) intuitively usable, (2) user-friendly as well as (3) clearly and (4) logically structured".
  • The creativity factor consisted of two items: "(1) The website gave me a lot of freedom", and "(2) I could give my creativity free rein while designing the product".
  • To determine enjoyment, the experts had to rate: "The configuration was (1) fun, (2) delight, (3) pleasure, (4) entertaining and (5) interesting".
  • To assess uniqueness following statements had to be evaluated: "My created product (1) is unique, (2) is different, (3) helps me to differentiate; and (4) no one else has such a product."

In addition, we had multiple other scales for performance like the satisfaction with the final product, the willingness to purchase, the likelihood to recommend the vendor to a friend, etc. 

All 500 companies that are included in the Customization500 are presented with a profile picture like the following Figure 4.

Example company profile 2
 Figure 4: Sample profile picture (purchase the full report for all 500 evaluations)


Configuration process experience is driving overall customer satisfaction


Our analysis showed that on the one hand side, “preference fit” and the meeting of a customer’s “need for uniqueness” are strong drivers of satisfaction with a particular mass customization offering.  

However, process satisfaction, resulting from the enjoyment and creative involvement during a user-friendly configuration process, has an even higher impact in many cases, according to our data.

This confirms the early findings of researchers like Nikolaus Franke or Martin Schreier who have stated that in B2C mass customization about 50 percent of the additional willingness to pay can be explained by the process experience and a feeling of achievement and co-design success – and not by the higher functionality of fit of a custom product.

Our study clearly supports this claim. We urge managers to look beyond the sheer technology and back office integration of configuration toolkits and also focus on delivering a great configuration experience.


Meaningful visualization


Academic research often has stressed the importance of realistic visualization as a core element of a good toolkit. But many companies in practice still have very simple visualization features, and sometimes no illustration of the outcome at all.  But there also can be too much of a good thing:

Evaluators often highlighted not those sites with the most advanced 3D visualization as best in class, But those with visualization features that matter and come to the point.

For many products, a realistic, fast, plug-in free and well-described visual of an individual configuration is better than a complicated 3D model wearing, for example, my custom T-shirt – that takes many seconds to load and almost crushed my computer when playing with it. Sounds obvious? Well, it is not. We still see many sites where technology is used as a point of differentiation – but not as a source of customer value!


Providing help and process navigation


When looking at the data which features of a configurator drive most the perceived usability and use experience, we found that navigation- and orientation-help features, such as a progress bar or an activity list, play a key role. Co-design toolkits with a higher level of company- and/or customer-help features, such as design inspirations, deeper product information or recommendations by other consumers, in general performed better in terms of satisfaction.

However, about 50% of the toolkits in the "Customization 500" do not offer any or only a low level of these features. Here, we find many untapped opportunities for practice to enhance the gross utility of customers.

At the other side, we’ve found quite a few offerings without or with only a low level of these features which were performing excellently nonetheless. In some cases, the simple product design (solution space) did not require special help features. In other cases, customer satisfaction with the offerings was excessively influenced by the particular value provided by the customizable product itself.

There is not one best way. Companies should “customize their mass customization strategy” based on the requirements of their customer stock. But having an understanding of the perception of customers or a firm's toolkit is crucial to make such a decision.


Parameter versus need based configurations


The largest gap between practice and recommendations of academic research can be found in the area of parameter- versus need-based toolkits.  We found that in today's mass customization reality, basic parameter (option) based toolkits still rule. Customers have to make their own decisions from a list of predefined options. This often demands a large number of decisions and also knowledge of the user about the product. While this may be perfect in the business-to-business context, it is not always the best option in consumer markets.

Here, need-based configuration has been shown to provide better results. In such a need-based system, users share something about their preferences, requirements, or expected outcomes. This input then is transferred by an algorithm into a product configuration. A need-based configurator hence mimics the behavior of a good sales person who also may recommend you exactly the right product (configuration) after asking just a few but insightful questions. In our study of the best 500 toolkits, less than 3% of companies had such a need-based configurator in place. While we acknowledge that it is more costly to develop a good need-based configurator, these systems seem to offer a great opportunity for differentiation and larger customer satisfaction.




MC 500 signConcluding, we can state that mass customization still is an area in the making. While there has been much progress, and there are some really great toolkits in the market, the majority of systems still are in an early stage. But as our data shows, from the customer perspective it often is just a small step between a good to a great toolkit.

All companies that have been included in the Customization500 received this vignette to illustrate that they are part of the leading companies in the field of mass customization and personalization. So when search for customization on the web the next time, watch out for this sign.

But we expect that the Customization500 is a very dynamic field. Even during the time of our research we found many developments, improvements, and failures. This is why studying the field of mass customization remains a continuous endeavor … but a fun one, too!


Context information


Part 1: of this series:  Data on the MC industry structure

MC 500 cover finalwww.mc-500.com: More information on the Customization500 study and a list of the 500 companies included in the evaluation.


Mcpc2011_proceeding_long_coverhttp://bit.ly/mcpc-proceedingsThe Proceedings of the last MCPC conference cover many dozens of case studies, latest research, 2500+ slides, and 15+ hours of video of the plenary presentations. As part of the proceedings, you also find three detailed PPT presentations using the Customization500 data in larger detail.

MC 2012 banner blockwww.mc2012.org: Speaking German? Then participate at the next meeting of the German-speaking mass customization community (Salzburg, 29 June 2012) – and learn from some of the German champions of the Customization500.


6 03, 2012

The Market for Mass Customization Today: Results from the Customization500. Part I: Company & Industry Structure

By | 2018-06-14T07:13:47+00:00 März 6th, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Co-Design Process, Customization Trends, General, Personalization, Research Studies, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers|

MC 500 cover finalIn his recent report about mass customization, Forrester's J.P. Gownder concluded that "mass customization is finally the future of products".  But how does the future of products look today?

In a joint project, Dominik Walcher and I looked together with our colleagues Thorsten Harzer, Christoph Ihl and Fabrizio Salvador into the practice of mass customization. Our multi-stage study, "The Customization 500", is the first global benchmarking study on mass customization and personalization in consumer e-commerce.

In a series of postings, I want to introduce some of the results from this research. You find all about the Customization 500 (short: MC500) study in a special section in my blog, www.mc-500.com

Sample construction for the Customization500 benchmark study


Given the scope of the mass customization market, we focused our analysis in the Customization500 on companies that sell directly to end consumers (B2C), using an online toolkit for user co-design that is applied to change the physical characteristics of the product in a dedicated manufacturing step (hence excluding products where customization is embedded in the product like a smartphone). In addition, we pragmatically focused on companies which we were able to analyze as they had a website in either English or German language.

In total, we found almost 1000 firms meeting these criteria (refer to www.configurator-database.com, a continuously updated list of mass customization companies). Following an extensive evaluation activity, we identified 500 companies that lead this field from a customer perspective (see here the full list). For each company, we gathered more than 100 data points. Data was collected by a group of trained expert evaluators who spent hours on each website.

  MC 500 Sample construction

 Figure 1: Selecting the data for the Customization 500

Also, each website was at least evaluated independently by three evaluators, and we took care to investigate all cases where the inter-rater reliability was not sufficient. The result of this exercise was a ranking of all companies, and allowed us to identify some of the leading offerings in the field. Figure 2 shows a summary picture of one of the companies included in the study.


Figure 2: A typical illustration of the overall score sheet of a company included in the Customization 500 (to get access to  all 500 profiles included in the Customization500, you have to purchase the full market study).


Which are the dominating industries with mass customization offerings


Table 1 provides an overview of the categories where mass customization in BtoC online today is employed. We find some very crowded categories that dominate the market. As expected, the option to personalize items by applying a user design on a basic product by different forms of digital printing is leading the field (categories 1, 2 and 4). There also always seems to be room for another custom shirt business or personalized sticker / foil to decorate your smart phone. Interestingly, however, there also is a very large (and still growing) field of applications in the food and nutrition industry where mass customization is applied to customize taste and nutrition of food.

  MC 500 Categories Table 1

Table 1: Categories of mass customization application in the Customization500

Using customized products for the gift market is a growing, but still not over-crowded opportunity. Most vendors still see mass customization as a one-to-one business, providing a custom product for the buyer (hence, also the dominance of me, my, mein etc. brand names).

However, some of the most successful mass customizers have realized that mass customization offers a perfect cure of a common problem: „Oh my good,

[Name here]‘s birthday is coming up in a few days — I need to rush to get an „original“ present now – but what?“ Take customized chocolate. Chocri and MyM&Ms, for example, are competing with gift cards and gift books, not with other candy items. They are not to be eaten – even if they taste very good – but to express that I have thought of you and really have spent some effort in getting this present done. For this, I am willing to pay a premium of 1,000 percent or more. As a provider, however, this means that a delivery time of 24 hours is a must, plus advice for easy gifting, wrapping, additional greeting cards etc. Here, we still see many untapped opportunities.

When looking further in the domains of mass customization application, we interestingly only found very few good configuration toolkits (for functional customization) in the field of consumer electronics and computers. Here, apparently the improvements of hardware apparently make it less useful to customize a product via toolkits before purchase, but allow users to customize the product during the usage stage with an embedded toolkit. It may be a sign of the shift in mass customization that the early pioneer, Dell, today almost offers no customization at all at its website. Well, there still is a configurator, but the choice options are very limited.


A closer look into company structures


For 120 of the 500 companies, we also could obtain extensive data by means of a company survey. Figure 3 shows our two-step data gathering approach.

MC 500 Expert and company survey

Figure 3: The expert evaluation of the Customization 500 was followed by an extensive company survey of 120 companies

Descriptive statistics for the responding firms are given in Table 2, providing an enhanced insight into the company structures of the players in the mass customization market today.

  • About 83% of the firms were founded exclusively with the purpose of mass customization, while 17% run their mass customization business in addition to their standard business. In general, most firms are rather young.
  • Only 16% of the mass customization offerings are older than five years, indicating the long time lag from the description of the idea to the broader application of toolkits for co-design.
  • 54% of the firms have less than five employees.
  • Annual sales of the responding firms range from less than $100,000 to over $5 million in the last fiscal year, with the majority having sales of less than $1 million (83.5%).

These observations are consistent with our observation that the current dynamism in mass customization is driven primarily by innovative startups that have built their business models from the ground up and focus entirely on the promises of mass customization.

Table 2 Descriptive Data of Company Survey

Table 2: Descriptive data from the company survey of responding firms

Clones dominate mass customization entrepreneurship

If you have a good idea for a custom product, it will be copied fast. This is one of the major conclusions we can draw from our observations of the market. The barrier to entry for many products is rather low, and once an interesting idea comes on the market, copycats follow quickly. This in general has not to be a bad thing, as also clones help to build the market, generate attention, and signal to press that this is a new category.

However, for the pioneers this means that they have to focus as much attention on branding and differentiating their business as upon building the processes and systems. Patents or other forms of IP do not provide much help here, thus, we conclude: As a pioneer, be fast, smart, and differentiate your business beyond the brand name and your core products.

Despite the many "me-too" offerings, surprisingly often the late followers are doing very well in their segments. We see three reasons here:

(1) Strong growth opportunities in every market: The late comers even in the most crowded categories (like custom men's shirts) enter into a market that still is not matured at all. Overall, there is not one category in consumer B2C where custom products have more than a few percent of the overall category (in most cases, they have a few tenth of a percent!). So there is still enough space for everyone.

(2) Market education: Pioneers in a category often have to spend a lot of attention to educate the market and just let consumers (and journalists) know that this kind of custom product is available. Latecomers can build on this generated market education.

(3) "Best of Breed" solutions: Latecomers often perform as best of class of established players, combining the design elements of pioneers, but also of mass customization sites in other categories.  A recent good example if getwear.com, which came late with another custom jeans offering, but has the best online configurator in its industry.

Mass customization platforms make the third wave of mass customization

But despite many clones, we also found a lot of innovative business models. Some of the best performing companies in the Customization500 are not stand-alone businesses that deal directly with consumers, but are mass customization platforms. These platforms can be regarded as the third stage of mass customization development.

The first wave of mass customization was driven by the early pioneers in the field in the early 1990s, motivated by the opportunities of new flexible manufacturing technology. Levi Strauss is a typical example from this time. Most of these offerings worked offline in a traditional retail environment. Also, first internet offerings coming of in 1995 and 1996, like CyberChocy or Creo Interactive, came up at this time. But in most markets, consumers were not ready yet.

The second wave came with the internet economy, around 1998-2002. Often, startups at that time just opened, as everybody could do it, not as customers needed it. But some great examples of mass customization survived, like NikeID (opening only because former Nike CEO Phil Knight wanted to have „something in the internet“, and so they selected mass customization as this promised to cause little channel conflicts with established retailers). In the following years, the internet-based mass customization offerings matured, and many more followed. It was the broader development of online configurators that made mass customization happening in a larger scale.

But a third wave of mass customization is happening now: It is driven by companies like Ponoko, Zazzle, Spreadshirt, Cafepress, Lulu, Gemvara, and many others, which offer design, manufacturing, and retail capacity to everyone. These platforms allow entrepreneurs to open a dedicated mass customization business at very low investment cost. On these platforms, people are not just customizing to fulfill their own needs, but to create (micro) niche markets for their peers. The platform providers have successfully combined the eBay idea of very easily selling things over the internet with the customization model of robust fulfillment processes. Here, we are just at the beginning and will see many more applications soon.

In an upcoming posting, we look more closer into the state of the practice of choice navigation (configuration) toolkits.

Context information


MC 500 cover finalwww.mc-500.com: More information on the Customization500 study and a list of the 500 companies included in the evaluation. 


Mcpc2011_proceeding_long_coverhttp://bit.ly/mcpc-proceedingsThe Proceedings of the last MCPC conference cover many dozens of case studies, latest research, 2500+ slides, and 15+ hours of video of the plenary presentations. As part of the proceedings, you also find three detailed PPT presentations using the Customization500 data in larger detail.

MC 2012 banner blockwww.mc2012.org: Speaking German? Then participate at the next meeting of the German-speaking mass customization community (Salzburg, 29 June 2012) – and learn from some of the German champions of the Customization500 

14 02, 2012

Getwear: New custom jeans website combines many „best practice“ elements of online co-design toolkits

By | 2018-06-14T07:14:03+00:00 Februar 14th, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Clothing, Co-Design Process, Technologies & Enablers|

Getwear toolkitCustom jeans have been one of the pioneering offering in mass customization, and I have reported about them several times. Indeed, it has been the Custom Jeans offering of Levi Strauss that got me interested in mass customization at the first place (Seeing it in 1994 in NYC), and so I was quite sad when Levi closed its MC business.

But the market seems to get more mature now, and while there already are quite some companies on the web, there always is room for someone new, especially if they get it better than the rest.

This seems to be the case with GETWEAR.com, a custom jeans site targeting the US market (but they ship to Europe and Asia, too). They just launched last week. While I still cannot judge the product quality, the website seems to be very carefully designed and somehow a "best of breed" of best practices for a good co-design toolkit. And their price point (starting at about $99) is truly MASS customization.

CEO of Getwear is Tatyana Kanzaveli, a well connected woman in the Silicon Valley, but the strategist and concept developer behind the site is Yaakov Karda, who came up with the idea after his studies in Fashion Management in Italy.

I asked him what how is Getwear different to the existing custom jeans companies out there.

YakovYaakov: The main difference is that other projects are (and, as far as I know) about "custom fit" and Getwear is about "custom design". Besides that, none of them is social. It was you (customer) and the company. Basically, it is an analogue of web based "atelier". There's not much fun in buying atelier made clothing for young people; the concept looks and sounds outdated.

Getwear is all about social commerce. From my point of view, mass customization has perfect potential if coupled with community but will not succeed on the large scale if it is not. All other "custom jeans" businesses mostly target people with special requirements (and though an established need for a custom product). It's a very limited market (and with harsh competition).

Unlike them, Getwear targets regular people and most of our clients never (probably) thought of having their jeans custom made. We aim to establish a brand that will compete not with other existing custom jeans projects, but with "big" denim brands such as Diesel, G-Star e.t.c.

Well, this is a bold statement, but there website really is state-of-the art (definitely a best practice candidate for our Customization500 list). The site is very well planned, and really combines many elements both with regard to co-design of an individual item and with regard to sharing and community features.

The co-design tool was developed in collaboration with Artem Gorbunov's Design Bureau, a highly regarded Moscow based studio that specializes in web & interface design. According to Yaakov, they already had two iterations but they are not yet done, so it's a work in progress.

Here are some elements that I liked especially from their site:

  • Great inspiration and catalog to give you orientation and ideas.
  • Senseful visualization balancing between usability and realistic views.
  • Different models and sizes already in the co-design toolkit, not just in the measurement part.
  • Great details. Look at the selection of buttons: Options are shown before selected color, nit just generically.
  • Lot's of social media connections right out of the configurator
  • Option to offer your design to others, earning a $10 bonus every time it is ordered. One of the few sites that put this kind of P2P interaction into practice .

But a great custom product is only as good as the firm's ability to turn the virtual design into a real product. So I asked Yaakov to share a bit more about their production system. Production is in India in a dedicated factory, rum by Nikhil Bafna, who was Yaakov's classmate in Italy and is the VP of Production. They promise delivery times of not more than two weeks (in the US) for a truly custom made jeans, which really sets a strong benchmark!

Yaakov: First of all, we employ unique parametric pattern making system that produces ready for cutting patterns in a matter of seconds. That saves a lot of time. Besides that we have a specially dedicated production unit that doesn't do any other work. Jeans are delivered with UPS and it only adds around 3 days for delivery (within these 14). 

We aim to further reduce delivery timing to one week (or less for basic items) in future. I believe that fast fulfillment is one of the key success factors for any mass customization business.

I totally agree on the last sentence. Looking forward to observe the future developments of this company!

13 02, 2012

Public Proceedings of the last MCPC Conference Published — Access all Conference Presentations, Papers, Videos

By | 2018-06-14T07:14:06+00:00 Februar 13th, 2012|Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Events, General, MC/OI on the Web, MCPC2011, Open/User Innovation, Personalization, Research Studies, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers|

Mcpc2011_proceeding_ISBN_coverDid you miss the MCPC 2011 conference? It was a terrific event, and we really got great feedback and comments on the conference.  Check here for some conference pictures!

Richard Henderson at UC Berkeley has been very helpful in creating the best conference documentation we ever had! On a special conference website, the full conference program  is  now available with links to the slides of the presentations, full papers (when available), and many full videos of the plenary and keynote presentations (for Day 1 and 2).

To access this rich source of information (I estimate that this are 2500+ slides, 1000+ pages of papers, and 15+ hours of video), either use the access code you got as a conference participant, or purchase* the full text proceedings:

Bridging Mass Customization & Open Innovation. Proceedings of the MCPC 2011 Conference — including an access code to all presentations, papers, and videos. Edited by Henry Chesbrough and Frank Piller. Published by Lulu, Inc. (Raleigh, NC), 2012.

=>  Paperback version: ISBN: 978-1-4716-3023-1 (ca. 5 day delivery time)

=>  eBook version: ISBN: 978-1-4716-3086-6 (instant download)

For detailed information about presentations and speakers please also refer to the conference proceedings flyer!

*Note: Why do we sell these proceedings and do not provide open access? First, this would have been unfair to all people participating at the conference and paying the full fee there. Second, organizing such a conference is a big effort and investment, and we still need the proceeds from this publication to cover our cost. Third, many authors and presenters do not want to have their papers and presentations openly on the web, but agreed to a controlled publication only.

4 02, 2012

New Book: Customer-Driven Supply Chains: From Glass Pipelines to Open Innovation Networks

By | 2018-06-14T07:14:16+00:00 Februar 4th, 2012|Books, Cases-Industrial, Customization Trends, General, Open/User Innovation, Research Studies, Technologies & Enablers|

As a result of our EU-funded research project REMPLANT, we are proud to announce a new book that Prof. Frank Piller partly co-authored:

Book cover springerCustomer-Driven Supply Chains From Glass Pipelines to Open Innovation

by Lyons, A.C., Coronado Mondragon, A. E., Piller, F. and Poler, R

Find Customer-Driven Supply Chains at Amazon.com

More book info and download of individual chapters at Springer.com

The Book reviews the concept of lean thinking and its relationship to other key initiatives associated with supply chain management. Detailed industrial case studies based on the authors’ experience illustrate the principles behind lean supply chains. Moreover, a series of diagrams are used to illustrate critical concepts and supply chain architectures. Special emphasis is placed on the importance of transferring lean principles from the organisational level to the supply chain level. The theory and principles behind lean supply chains are reviewed. Other concepts related to lean supply chains discussed in the book include: mass customisation, agility, information sharing and the bullwhip effect. A methodology used to measure the performance of supply chains is introduced; this methodology comprises the tools of decision timeline, data-flow diagramming, supply chain value stream mapping and a performance measurement scorecard.

Readers will gain a clear picture of the competitive implications of lean supply chains. Customer-Driven Supply Chains: From Glass Pipelines to Open Innovation Networks will be a valuable resource of material to students studying supply chain/operations management as well as researchers in this field. Industry practitioners will learn how to develop sound supply chain strategies that can have a positive impact in their organisation.

Lead author and driver behind the book has been Andrew Lyons from the University of Liverpool, a great research partner in the REMPLANET project. He has been a Lecturer in Operations Management at the University of Liverpool Management School since 2002. His research interests include: operations strategy, supply chain design and performance measurement, supply chain information structures, mass customisation and build-to-order strategies.

18 12, 2011

The $1 Million Zazzle Innovation Challenge: What is your great idea for the next in mass customization?

By | 2018-06-14T07:14:54+00:00 Dezember 18th, 2011|Cases-Consumer, Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Events, Long Tail, MC & Art, MCPC2011, MIT SCG, Open/User Innovation, Personalization, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers|

Here is your perfect thing to do over the Christmas holidays:


Zazzle, a leading platform for quality custom products, is hosting their first "One Million-Dollar Innovation Challenge" to launch the development of the next, most innovative customization product or company.

This can be an idea for a new consumer product, but also one for an innovative service, health, business to business or whatever offering … Feel free to bring mass customization to a new level!

The contest had been announced during the MCPC 2011 conference dinner. It is hosted in association with MIT's Smart Customization Group and UC Berkeley's Center for Corporate Innovation,

The Million-Dollar Innovation Challenge and prize is open to any person or company with an idea for a customizable product. Applicants must create a one-minute video, describing their product and explaining why their innovative concept is special and will contribute to the growing movement of mass customization. Applicants will be judged on innovation and economic viability.

Jeff Beaver from Zazzle announces the Challenge. Photo by Bruce CookThe winner will gain access to Zazzle's world-class engineering team, which will support the winning project with software development, exclusive proprietary design tools and 3-D product visualization technologies. Additionally, Zazzle will fund the project with resources to develop a global product-marketing plan and launch the product to a worldwide audience of tens of millions of potential consumers. The winner will also receive mentorship from a veteran panel of potential investors and industry leaders, in addition to introductions to Zazzle's many brands and partners.

Zazzle will announce five semi-finalists on February 24, 2012. Academic experts, industry executives and active investors will help refine the concepts and plans for final evaluation and judge the presentations.

For more information, including objectives, application, rules and prize details, visit www.Zazzle.com/challenge.

7 11, 2011

#MCPC2011 Business Seminar: The Future of Mass Customization: The New Open Manufacturing System at #Materialise, #Ponoko and #ILT

By | 2018-06-14T07:15:26+00:00 November 7th, 2011|Cases-Consumer, Cases-Industrial, Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Design, Events, MC/OI on the Web, MCPC2011, Offline Customization, Open/User Innovation, Personalization, Research Studies, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers|

MCPC 2011
On November 16th, the MCPC 2011 conference kicks off at the Marriot SFO Airport, San Francisco. In this series of postings, we introduce our speakers at the business seminars of the conference.

Additive Manufacturing and the opportunity for every consumer to turn any idea into a tangible product will change not just mass customization, but our dominant perspective of design and manufacturing. Learn the key facts from visionaries and business leaders in this field.

Wim Michiels, Executive Vice President, Materialise
The Industrial Revolution 2.0: Personalization through Additive Manufacturing

MichielsEvery year, consumers’ interest in customization increases and market demand for personalization is creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs as well as entrepreneurs who have an existing offering that they now wish to tailor. With the technological advancements in Additive Manufacturing (AM), commonly known as 3D Printing, individuals have the ability to add a personal touch to the things they use and love most from cell phone cases, to shoes, to accessories for their cars and more.

David ten Have, CEO, Ponoko
Building the World's Easiest Making System

Ten_haveThe future of products – using software to connect consumers, designers and making devices. Ponoko Inc is the creator of Personal Factory — the world’s most advanced platform for the mass creation of custom goods. Creative consumers can turn their design ideas into custom goods on demand using Ponoko's global network of making devices. This local production reduces the environmental impact of manufacturing. So far, more than 100,000 customer designed products have been made in 15 locations throughout the USA, Europe and Australasia – everything from 3D printed jewelry to laser-cut clocks to CNC routed furniture. Just as the Internet revolutionized the exchange of digital photos, music and movies, Ponoko pioneered the exchange of digital designs, reinventing the way consumer goods are designed, made and distributed. In a future when there is a making device in every home, school and business, Personal Factory is the software that makes it easy for everyone to create custom goods.

 Reinhard Poprawe, Director of Fraunhofer ILT, RWTH Aachen University
Laser Additive Manufacturing – The Key to the Next Generation of Economic Custom Production






Please find the complete program at the official MCPC 2011 website.

6 11, 2011

#MCPC2011 Business Seminar: How to Implement an MC Business at #Fluid, #JELD-WEN and #cyLEDGE

By | 2018-06-14T07:15:30+00:00 November 6th, 2011|Cases-Consumer, Cases-Industrial, Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Events, MCPC2011, Open/User Innovation, Personalization, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers|

MCPC 2011
On November 16th, the MCPC 2011 conference kicks off at the Marriot SFO Airport, San Francisco. In this series of postings, we introduce our speakers at the business seminars of the conference.

Three rapid panel presentations will provide a lot of inspiration and food for thought for small group discussions with your peers.

Andrew Guldman, VP of Engineering, Fluid
Rob Jellesed, Director of Internet Sales, JELD-WEN Windows

Implementing Mass Customization in an Established Company

Guldman_jellesedFluid Inc. and JELD-WEN Doors & Windows have collaborated to create a compelling and richly interactive window and door customization experience online utilizing the latest in mass customization technology. During this presentation, you’ll hear how JELD-WEN leverages technologies to inform consumer purchase decisions and provide pass through lead generation to the sales funnel. With the use of immersive customization capabilities, potential customers can now interact with photo-realistic products, zoom, multiple views, and color changes. Further, you will learn how mass customization has gone social, with JELD-WEN’s unique implementation of social shopping tools that allow consumers to customize complex products with friends online and share their designs with others. And, last you’ll understand how mass customization has proven to augment JELD-WEN’s in-store door and window displays and offered the company a non-traditional return on investment.

Paul Blazek, CEO, cyLEDGE
Crucial Design Elements for Successful MC Configuration and Interaction

BlazekSuccessful mass customization of products and services requires interaction interfaces and tools that are shaped according to the customers' heterogeneous needs. The interface design of these configuration systems becomes a decisive criterion for customer satisfaction. Besides offering a good approach to the specific customization possibilities it should help to reduce customer doubts encountered during the design process, support emotional mechanisms and persuade to make a purchase. But how are relevant customer requirements identified? What are crucial design elements that trigger an efficient interaction between the customer and the manufacturer. Paul will answer these questions in form of some guidelines resulting from his analysis of customer structures and configurator approaches in various industries.

Please find the complete program at the official MCPC 2011 website.

5 11, 2011

#MCPC2011 Business Seminar: Setting Up a Mass Customization System at #Skyou, #Bene AG and #Selve

By | 2018-06-14T07:15:32+00:00 November 5th, 2011|Cases-Consumer, Cases-Industrial, Clothing, Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Design, Events, Footwear, MCPC2011, Open/User Innovation, Personalization, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers|

MCPC 2011 On November 16th, the MCPC 2011 conference kicks off at the Marriot SFO Airport, San Francisco. In this series of postings, we introduce our speakers at the business seminars of the conference.

This session will focus on the different business models that are behind the mass customization trend.

Brennan Mulligan, Founder & CEO, Skyou
What I Learned from Setting Up Five Successful MC Companies

MulliganWhile mass customization can be seen as an established business model we still see often little scale in its execution. At the same time, many new ventures and established businesses alike face the challenge to establish a supply chain fitted for mass customization – and everyone seems to go through the same learning cycle again. In his talk, Brennan Mulligan will propose a solution, reflecting on his experiences in leading many successful mass customization businesses since 1993.

Karl Berger, Vice President Engineering, Bene AG
Developing Solution Spaces for Mass Customization

BergerSolution Space Development is one of the core activities of a successful mass customizer, clearly defining what it is going to offer and what it is not. The presentation will explain how Bene, a leading European office furniture provider, has developed a special approach to understand and serve the idiosyncratic needs of its customers, to develop the solution space. Karl Berger will show how different constraints work with each other, and how a of organizational layers helps to execute different solution spaces in the organization.

Claudia Kisserling, CEO, Selve
Illissa Howard, Founder, Milk and Honey Shoes

Establishing a Mass Customization Factory in China

Kieserling_howardThis joint presentation is delivered by two experienced entrepreneurs in mass customization footwear, representing selve, the Germany-based category leader in the field, and Milk&Honey, a recent Hong Kong based startup. Claudia and Ilissa will first share insights into the market for customization in this field, discussing the Women’s fashion footwear market size and growth areas, global reach via online configurator, and the challenges and opportunities associated with that. Then, Claudia will share here experiences in setting up an own manufacturing plant in china, after seven years of manufacturing of high quality custom women's shoes in Italy. She will discuss the pros and cons, the do's and don'ts and her experiences of setting up and running a custom shoe factory in China.

Please find the complete program at the official MCPC 2011 website.

3 11, 2011

#MCPC2011 Business Seminar: Building & Growing a Mass Customization Business at #Rickshaw Bagworks and #You Bar

By | 2018-06-14T07:15:36+00:00 November 3rd, 2011|Cases-Consumer, Cases-Industrial, Clothing, Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Events, MCPC2011, Open/User Innovation, Personalization, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers|

MCPC 2011 On November 16th, the MCPC 2011 conference kicks off at the Marriot SFO Airport, San Francisco. In this series of postings, we introduce our speakers at the business seminars of the conference.

In this panel, three experienced entrepreneurs in mass customization will share their best practices on what did work and what not.

Mark Dwight, Founder & CEO, Rickshaw Bagworks
Design for Mass Customization: Real World Approaches for Design and Manufacturing

DwightMass customization comes in many shapes and sizes. Mark Dwight employs mass customization techniques in his small messenger bag manufacturing company, Rickshaw Bagworks, based in San Francisco. Dwight founded Rickshaw specifically to pursue a strict build-to-order operational model, as opposed to the traditional build-to-stock practice common in the fashion industry. At Rickshaw, mass customization is the foundation of the product design and development process. All product platforms are based upon four key design principles: (1) Decouple function and fashion; (2) Isolate complex core functional elements in a common, mass-producible "chassis"; (3) Save product "personality" for the final assembly step; (4) Add optional functional upgrades and fashion elements from a collection of "bolt-on" accessories. Based upon this design methodology, Rickshaw produces a family of full-featured, customizable computer carrying briefcases and backpacks at very competitive prices in its San Francisco headquarters. The benefits of this strategy include: zero finished goods inventory, zero inventory risk, minimum SKU count, vastly reduced forecasting complexity, ability to outsource most of the labor intensive work while insourcing all of the customization, price/performance flexibility, and fast turnaround of highly custom orders.

Anthony Flynn, Founder & CEO, You Bar
You Bars: Profiting from the Mega-Trend of Food Customization

FlynnDetailing You Bar's journey from my mother's kitchen to an 8,200 square foot commercial warehouse, this presentation focuses on how the customer and company have become less polarized. Customization obliges the customer to become co-creator and innovator, necessitating a dialogue between customer and company which allows each to better satisfy the evolving needs of the other.

Speaker T.B.A., Please Check Conference Website for Details

Investing in the Customization Trend

Mass customization start-ups have become subject to some major interest of Venture Capital firms. In this presentation, a member of the VC communities share some insights on the market for mass customization from this perspective and why mass customization and co-creation are important drivers of successful future business models.

Please find the complete program at the official MCPC 2011 website.

3 11, 2011

#MCPC2011 Keynote Session: Setting an Agenda for Research & Innovation

By | 2018-06-14T07:15:39+00:00 November 3rd, 2011|Cases-Industrial, Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Events, MCPC2011, Open/User Innovation, Personalization, Research Studies, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers|

MCPC 2011 On November 16th, the MCPC 2011 conference kicks off at the Marriot SFO Airport, San Francisco. In this series of postings, we introduce our speakers at the business seminars of the conference.

Discuss with your fellow participants your insights from the MCPC 2011 and close the conference with three forward-looking keynotes and a review by the conference chairs that will set the agenda until the next MCPC.

Vishal Gupta, Director Developer Network, Elsevier
Wither Scientific Publishing? Collaborative Innovation, Open Platforms and Personalized Workflow Solutions Has an Answer

GuptaWith an exponential growth of scientific information and wider distribution of services and data sources; integrated and intelligent search and discovery become crucial to the success of researchers. This is not possible without partnering on a platform that provides the ability to integrate workflow solutions in a seamless way, allowing a more meaningful use of the content. At Elsevier we are trying to bring a paradigm shift in partnering with researcher and developer communities on open platforms to jointly develop innovative workflow tools that are embedded deeply in user’s workflow, personalized to suit the individual needs, and geared towards driving research outcomes.

Kent Larson, MIT Media Lab
Urbanization from a Perspective of Mass Customization and Open Innovation

LarsonThis talk will provide a thought-provoking outlook by looking on urbanization from a mass customization perspective. It will propose a systems approach to creating new cities at four scales:

  1. New Urban Strategies – parametric tools to create urban blocks with the optimal mix of housing, commercial, retail, and services and their related infrastructure.
  2. Mobility-on-Demand – modular approach to assembling an ecosystem of mobility modes and new vehicles (like the CityCar)
  3. Personalized Places of Living and Work – mass-customization strategies for high-performance urban housing
  4. Proactive Technology – sensors, algorithms, and interfaces to proactively encourage energy conservation, healthy behaviors, and mobility choices.

Mitchell Tseng, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Embodying Innovation for Customer Value – Building Bridges Between Mass Customization and Open Innovation

TsengIn our knowledge economy, value comes from generating creative ideas and then embodying them in products for transactions. Mass Customization starts from finding out the customer value and then try to create the best combination of components that shape the physical products for customers to buy. On the hand, Open innovation invites creative idea from everyone, from partners, suppliers, customers and others to contribute for a defined purpose that is valuable. Either approach involves a critical step of transforming abstract idea to tangible products, connecting concept to physical world in order to achieve customer value. Although there are products that can be valuable in abstract forms or software, majority of products still relies physical embodiment. This presentation will like to address the interface between electronically moveable and immoveable. Some of the techniques that can be adapted to amplify the synergy between these two essential components will also be reviewed and discussed.

Please find the complete program at the official MCPC 2011 website.

2 11, 2011

#MCPC2011 Keynote Session: Finding the Next Opportunities in Mass Customization

By | 2018-06-14T07:15:42+00:00 November 2nd, 2011|Cases-Consumer, Cases-Industrial, Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Events, MCPC2011, Personalization, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers|

MCPC 2011 On November 16th, the MCPC 2011 conference kicks off at the Marriot SFO Airport, San Francisco. In this series of postings, we introduce our speakers at the business seminars of the conference.

Learn from B. Joseph Pine's latest thoughts on the Virtual Multiverse and how it creates the next generation of experiences and customization, followed by a talk by an entrepreneur who puts Joe's thoughts into real life.

B. Joseph Pine II, Strategic Horizons
The Multiverse: Finding the Next Opportunities in Mass Customization

PineThe physical world, bounded as it is by matter, space, and time, offers limited opportunities for value creation. With digital technology, however, the opportunities are limitless, for people can create anything they want with immaterial bits, in virtual places, without the constraints of linear time. As consumers increasingly experience the world through their digital gadgets, companies still only scratch the surface of technology-infused experiences. Joseph Pine will show you how to create new value for your customers with personalized offerings that fuse the real and the virtual. Digital technology offers limitless opportunities — you really can create anything you want — but real-world experiences have a richness that virtual ones do not. So how can you use the best of both? How do you make sense of such infinite possibility? What kinds of experiences can you create? Which ones should you offer?

André Wolper, Founder & CEO, embodee
Visualization as an Enabler of Mass Customization: An Apparel Story

WolperApparel shoppers, especially those customizing a garment, expect to vividly and accurately “see” and even experience what a garment looks like on them. Accurate, lifelike, 360degree visualizations can provide the means, delivering inspiration and confidence for an online purchase. embodee, a start-up, adapting technologies from movie visual effects, has built the first scalable, easy-to-use platform that delivers such visualization capabilities. Two leading global brands have launched interactive systems built on the embodee platform. Hurley customers have been able to see themselves in a range of denim styles and sizes optimized for them since 2010. And now, the world's leading sports apparel and equipment brand enables athletes and coaches to see their team uniforms evolve in compellingly realistic 3D as they tweak style elements, text, fonts, stitch patterns and colors. Customer feedback, sales volumes and a steep drop in return rates are proof points that compelling visualization can propel customization and online apparel commerce forward.

Please find the complete program at the official MCPC 2011 website.

1 11, 2011

#MCPC2011 Keynote Session: What is the State of the Art of Research & Practice in Mass Customization & Open Innovation?

By | 2018-06-14T07:15:45+00:00 November 1st, 2011|Cases-Consumer, Cases-Industrial, Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Events, MCPC2011, Open/User Innovation, Personalization, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers|

MCPC 2011 On November 16th, the MCPC 2011 conference kicks off at the Marriot SFO Airport, San Francisco. In this series of postings, we introduce our speakers at the business seminars of the conference.

Two talks providing a review of these fields to create a common understanding of the latest research and insights for practice. 

Joel West, Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences
Open Innovation – State of the Art of Research and Practice







Frank T. Piller, RWTH Aachen & MIT Smart Customization Group
Fabrizio Salvador, IE Business School

A Matter of Balance – Building the Successful Mass Customization Enterprise

Piller_salvadorWhat makes a successful mass customization enterprise? Previous research has identified three core capabilities that allow companies to profit from mass customization: robust process design, choice navigation and solution space definition. So far, however, we did not have large-sample evidence of the impact of these capabilities on market, operational and financial performance of a company. This presentation will report the latest results of an international study of 130 mass customization consumer companies operating both in Europe and in the U.S. as part of the ongoing MC500 research initiative. We find that these capabilities indeed are important for the performance of the sampled companies. To our surprise, however, focusing on one capability alone does not necessarily lead to superior market, operational and financial performance. Instead, performance differentials are explained in terms of the simultaneous presence of the three capabilities. This means that managers building a mass customization venture have to get a balanced view of investing in the three capabilities. Using empirical data and case studies, our presentation will identify implications of our study for entrepreneurs, managers in established companies, investors and VCs, and for future research.

Please find the complete program at the official MCPC 2011 website.