How Zazzle’s Infrastructure Enabled Keds to Offer Custom Sneakers Rapidly
Jeff Beaver, the co-founder of Zazzle and Wendy Yang, Sr. VP of product marketing at Keds, and Andy Howell, GM of Artsprojek, co-presented an interesting case study at the MIT Smart Customization Seminar.
Keds Partnered with Zazzle
Obama sneakers are among the most popular Keds' custom products.
Zazzle: An Ecosystem for Mass Customization
Zazzle was launched in 2005 by Bobby and Jeff Beaver right out of college. It has quickly become one of the largest providers of mass-customized consumer products in the world. Using proprietary printing and embellishment technology and just-in-time assembly and manufacturing, Zazzle produces one-of-a-kind products, ranging from apparel to posters to skateboards and shoes. Essentially, anything you can print, you can "Zazzle." Most of the products that you find at Zazzle are pre-manufactured (mugs, shirts, shoes) and then custom-printed and assembled at the firm's San Jose production facility, and shipped within 24 hours.
CREATE YOUR OWN CUSTOM PRODUCT. Consumers use Zazzle to create customized apparel and other items for themselves and for friends. But many consumers, and quite a few retailers and brands, also sell their designs through Zazzle. If you create a design you like, you can easily re-sell it through Zazzle, receiving a commission on each sale, and making your designs available to millions of consumers.
LET OTHERS PERSONALIZE YOUR DESIGNS. One of the unique and brilliant aspects to the Zazzle approach is the ability to create a design that consumers can personalize without destroying the designer's or the brand owner's original intent.
CREATE AND AMPLIFY YOUR BRAND. Retailers, musicians, artists, and many niche brands rely on Zazzle as their just-in-time one-stop provider that enables them to offer customized and customizable products to their customers and fans with no investment in inventory, Web site infrastructure or supply chain logistics.
BIG BRANDS LOVE ZAZZLE, TOO. Zazzle has been particularly successful in partnering with big brands to provide quick turnaround, consumer-customizable merchandise. In fact, Zazzle claims to have the largest library of customizable digital images from world-class brands. "Zazzle enables content owners to unlock their entire libraries of content, making it available for purchase and customization by consumers. Through Zazzle's innovative on-demand retail and technology platform, users can instantly create, customize to fit their personal style, purchase, and sell a near infinite array of products online." 1
Zazzle provides its brand partners and retail partners with an easy-to-set up "store within a store." That's what Keds did when they co-created the Keds Studio using the Zazzle platform. You can enter the Keds Studio from Keds.com or from Zazzle.com.
Zazzle Lets You Custom Create a Wide Variety of Products
Zazzle Produces Photo Sculptures, Mugs, Shirts, Bags, Key chains, etc.
Photo Sculptures are a great way to make Personas come to life.
Keds: Innovating the Customization of Footwear
By using the Zazzle platform as its customization engine, Keds was able to offer consumers the ability to put their own designs on their sneakers. Other footwear customization approaches let customers select colors and even add logos. But many Keds' customers had been drawing pictures on their plain white sneakers for years. So Keds wanted to offer its customers the ability to use their own graphics and art, Wendy Yang explained.
USE CUSTOMERS' DESIGNS TO REVITALIZE THE BRAND. Keds has been around since 1916, Wendy said. "We have a great aging baby boomer consumer who knows and loves the brand. We're also challenged with attracting millennial consumers. There are more millenials with tattoos than there are millenials with blue eyes! To appeal to them, we need to be making products faster in general as well as cooler and hipper. So we looked to Zazzle for the opportunity that personalization offers. It gives our customer the ability to express herself using the language she speaks and allows our brand to re-invigorate itself."
"In addition, Zazzle's platform will enable Keds Studio consumers, now ‘turned designers,' as well as professional and amateur designers to sell their unique designs in the Zazzle "marketplace." Zazzle's "Name Your Royalty" system enables these consumers to set the price of their shoe designs above the original price and earn the entire mark-up in profit."
HUGE SUCCESS! Keds Studio launched on July 30, 2008. Within 48 hours, customers had designed over 13,000 shoes. By the way, these customers' designs are rendered in 3D in real time, so they can rotate their shoes and see all aspects of the design before they commit to purchase them. As of early November, 2008, there were over 100,000 customer-created designs, and customers were submitting over 650 new designs every day! One woman took a photo of her feet and it looks like she's barefoot. The biggest sellers have been the many Obama designs.
Customers Can Create (and Sell) Their Own Designs
Upload your own images and designs.
One Keds' customer decided to personalize her sneakers with pictures of her feet.
This is excerpted from my "Smart Customization Comes of Age" Best Practices report, January 8, 2009.
1) From the Zazzle/Keds' press release, https://www.pr-inside.com/keds-and-zazzle-r-team-up-to-r738057.htm.