October 25, 2008

Manufacture on Demand (or Have It Your Way)

People who asked me ten years ago if the Web is the suitable channel for selling fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) like bread, butter, beer, candy, soft drinks and tomato ketchup got a categorical no for answer. But things are changing. If you ask me the same thing today I will answer to you: Of course!
What has changed is that we moved from Web 1.0 to the Web 2.0 era. The new online challenge is to manufacture and deliver customized products of all kinds to customers who are not satisfied with what they find in the supermarket or high-street shop, looking for something very personal.
The revolutionary approach of Dell Computers allowing online customizing and ordering of PCs in the 90s is becoming a routine today for an increasing number of products including FMCGs. Today you can customize (or even design ) online your T-Shirt, sport shoes, soft drinks, paper tissues, candy, tomato ketchup and beer. These products can be ordered and delivered at your doorstep, in many cases becoming available to other customers on line. The amazing capabilities of Web 2.0 applications combined with the explosive growth of broadband made this possible.
The list of customized products in the Web is growing every day and although some of them are not yet available everywhere it seems that the dream of Mass Customization is quickly becoming a reality. Print-on-Demand revolutionized the printing business but the Manufacture-on-Demand will most probably revolutionize FMCG production and retailing pushing the frontiers of branding and product innovation to new directions. The Long Tail can celebrate, it is taken now really seriously.