Refactoring Leadership

A geek struggles to become a leader

The Future of Retail: Revised

Nearly 3 years ago I wrote an article entitled The Future of Retail, which I just republished here. Amazon has just opened a physical book store, and I predict this will evolve into more than just books as time goes on. I'm going to call this a successful prediction, though I still think that a company like Best Buy has the most to gain from adopting this model.

What I didn't see coming to retail, though, is 3D Printing. With companies experimenting with custom printing parts on-demand for customers, we have to ask ourselves what this means. What does this mean for those of us who deal with the data for SKU based and configurable products? 

What does this mean for the intellectual property of traditional manufacturing companies? If my company develops an improved drill bit and Lowe's can print a titanium one, the 3D definition of how to make that drill bit becomes all important. It's possible that the ship has already sailed on this point. I can't share too much more right now, but it's my job to figure this out.

Comments (1) -

  • Eric LeClair

    5/25/2016 12:48:51 AM | Reply

    Actually Youtube kind of went through the same phase. In the beginning, everyone was suing them left and right but after realizing the potential of what they had, companies started working out things. I think same 'vision' should be exercised with 3d printing as well. I'm sure companies like Pinshape ( - It's one of the biggest marketplaces for 3d print files)  deals with 'copyright claims' regularly. However, the industry seems like is on a healthy pace to grow further (Slower than expected) but still going on up. Also there are two market segments for 3d printing. commercial and consumer. Only the consumer side has slowed down and as soon as they get a proper printer at an affordable price (I believe the folks at have something in the pipeline), than the consumer side will pick up too. One thing is for sure Damon, we are lucky to live in these times.