Online Ordering Experiment For 3D Printed Parts

Social media and e-commerce have made it possible to buy whatever you want, from anywhere, at every hour of the day and night.

Consumers want to browse and compare prices, quickly and easily, whether on a mobile phone or laptop. Online shopping should be a simple and efficient, with few clicks from the searching to ordering process.

This is true for almost every form of e-commerce, except when people try to place an order with the majority of 3D printing platforms.

That’s the verdict from Berenschot consultants, a tech-focused consultancy that has been active in 3D printing industry for over ten years.

Berenschot tried an experiment in 2014, to see how easy it is to order ABS Clips (designed to hold up presentation paper on a clipboard) through fifteen 3D printing platforms.

Their objective was to order 30 decent quality clips (per platform), for a reasonable price, with the same ease they would order anything else online.

The consultants conducting this experiment were evaluating these 15 platforms using these criteria:

1. The overall experience
2. The way the platform demonstrates credibility
3. Information on materials offered and printing method used
4. The terms & conditions
5. The ease of the ordering process.

The results were disappointing: “It is fair to say that in real life we would have abandoned the process in eight of the fifteen cases.”

As they found, placing an order through 3D printing platforms - even the most popular - isn’t as easy as Amazon or eBay.

The following problems were encountered:

  • A slow response times for quotes
  • A wide variation in price
  • A high failure rate
  • Missing parts from orders

After this test, it’s clear that 3D printing firms need to consider the following more seriously:

  • Crafting a clear message. Can you explain your service offering, value proposition and Unique Selling Point (USP) quickly and easily? Is your elevator pitch clear and concise? Customers need to know what you do, how much your service costs, how they can place an order and what happens if there’s a problem. A clear message strategy ought to underwrite everything you do, publish and talk about on social media.
  • Guidance and information on different file formats and materials that are offered will help consumers have confidence when placing an order.
  • Awesome customer service. Provide guidance, a FAQ section and quick response to questions, through email, messenger apps and a phone or Skype number, if possible. Make sure customers can get a quote and pay as quickly as possible. Delays and difficulties, comparable to what Berenschot consultants encountered is the best way to lose customers and revenue.

This industry has the potential to revolutionize manufacturing. But, only if we spend more time delivering great service every time.

Customers want service; they want a simple ordering process and products delivered at a high quality for a good price. Otherwise, they will give up on 3D printing altogether.

-Constantine Ivanov, Co-Founder & CEO of DigiFabster: A CRM fit for 3D Printing Industry. Streamline 3D Printing Orders & Customer Relations Management.

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