Executive Briefings

3D Printing, Smartphones Upend Retail, E-commerce

The assembly line at Feetz has 100 humming 3-D printers. Their sole purpose is to make shoes.

3D Printing, Smartphones Upend Retail, E-commerce

Each printer is named after a cartoon character: Wonder Woman, Scooby-Doo. Though whimsical, the printers, which cost $5,000 each, are out to upend mass retailing by making every shoe to order, cheaply.

"We're the technologists coming in to help," said Lucy Beard, chief executive of the two-year-old Feetz, in San Diego. "I saw 3D printers in a magazine, and I thought 'mass customization.'"

Each printer can be reset to make different sizes and takes up to 12 hours to make a pair. The company, which recently started selling its shoes, has only 15 employees.

But Beard, 38, a former actuary, envisions a day when shoes will be printed in under an hour. With limited labor and shipping costs to pay and no back inventory, Feetz has a 50 percent profit margin on every pair, she added.

Ordering is done online, where customers can download an app, take smartphone snapshots of their feet and create a 3D model. Shoes, which cost $199, are made of recycled materials and are thickly padded for comfort.

With the rise of new technologies like smartphones and 3D printers, fashion start-ups like Feetz are changing the ways goods are ordered, made and sold.

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Each printer is named after a cartoon character: Wonder Woman, Scooby-Doo. Though whimsical, the printers, which cost $5,000 each, are out to upend mass retailing by making every shoe to order, cheaply.

"We're the technologists coming in to help," said Lucy Beard, chief executive of the two-year-old Feetz, in San Diego. "I saw 3D printers in a magazine, and I thought 'mass customization.'"

Each printer can be reset to make different sizes and takes up to 12 hours to make a pair. The company, which recently started selling its shoes, has only 15 employees.

But Beard, 38, a former actuary, envisions a day when shoes will be printed in under an hour. With limited labor and shipping costs to pay and no back inventory, Feetz has a 50 percent profit margin on every pair, she added.

Ordering is done online, where customers can download an app, take smartphone snapshots of their feet and create a 3D model. Shoes, which cost $199, are made of recycled materials and are thickly padded for comfort.

With the rise of new technologies like smartphones and 3D printers, fashion start-ups like Feetz are changing the ways goods are ordered, made and sold.

Read Full Article

3D Printing, Smartphones Upend Retail, E-commerce