The sports merchandise manufacturer Nike already introduced the first customizing concepts shortly before the turn of the millennium. With "NIKEiD", consumers could design sneakers that could be individualised. The company started with the popular basketball shoe "Air Force 1". At the website, one can create a personal design step-by-step with an easily comprehensible software through the selection of colour, material and lettering and then save it. The finished shoes are then delivered in three to five weeks. The new concept soon met with success, and many sport shoes for areas like leisure, running or football can now be personalised online. New limited editions, details and colour options are added each year. A clever concept, because the participation in creating the design binds the customer to the brand. With the Flyknit technology, the offering is being supplemented with knitted upper materials that adapt flexibly to any foot shape. Those who wish can then publish their own customizing story.
Customer retention through unique experiences – online and offline
The digital service, which is in the meantime called "NIKE BY YOU", is now supported by Nike stores all over the world, which make customising on location a special experience. For example, in that a white shoe is used as a projection surface for new design options with "Augmented Video Mapping". The New York flagship store "House of Innovation 000", where Nike "creates individual shopping experiences that can only be found here", as described by Heidi O’Neill, President of Nike Direct, opened at the end of 2018. For the opening, an entire area for tailored designs offers hands-on customizing: in the House of Innovation, the customer can print his personal shoe and equip it with a broad selection of colours, materials, patches, logos, functional or other accessories.
Customizing also means personal service
A personal "Store Athlete" helps with individualisation when desired. There are also many digital refinements. With "Shop The Look", one can purchase and pay for a complete outfit right away with an app by scanning a number. Continually updated sales data bring the most popular products of New Yorkers into the shelves of a special Speed Shop. Key here is to "offer top products and unique design in a unique environment and with the best personalised service", Heidi O' Neill emphasises. "When one speaks with customers, it turns out that they still want to be able to touch and try on products when shopping". Living retail, as realised by Nike, creates a dynamic shopping experience in an environment that is as digital as it is quick in its reactions.
Individualisation saves costs for storage and production.
In the interiors segment, individualisation often refers to the free combination of the individual elements of a programme, for example, through the selection of colour variants and upholstery fabrics for upholstered furniture or when configuring shelving systems, beds and cabinets. Wallpaper, wall elements, design floors, rug tiles or parquet can also already be digitally printed in a very precise fashion with motifs and own photos, and natural looking wood, stone or cork decors are also realised in this way. This preserves rare resources and also saves on material and storage costs. Lightweight design plates with marble optics can even be used in interiors where real marble would be too heavy. The latest developments of digital direct printing also once again considerably expand the range of applications for the interiors industry, because curved surfaces, like for chairs of plywood, can now be precisely printed down to the smallest detail.
New perspectives for the future through 3D printing
Series production for furniture from the 3D printer is too expensive, but individual single pieces or replacement parts can already be created today. Digital technology also allows greater freedom in terms of colour and shaping. Keeping the rapid development of three-dimensional printing with materials like plastic, wood or concrete in mind, this process will already provide completely new dimensions of personalisation for interior designers, designer, manufacturers and the furniture trader in the near future.
Experience worlds in the stationary furniture trade
Even today, the stationary trade can strengthen brands and bind end customers more intensively to it by visibly staging individualisation. Thanks to the exciting possibilities of augmented reality and digital signage with digital displays, freely available tablets and an imaginative, regularly changing presentation of new products or interesting limited editions, the trader can create an experience world that surprises again and again and contributes to maintaining customer loyalty. As the example of Nike illustrates, key here is to combine personalised products and personal consultation. This includes well-trained personnel that can quickly access existing data, competently respond to enquiries through social media and accompany the customer on his or her customer journey on location and in the Internet. And not least, who show real enthusiasm for the brands and products they represent.