Mass customization isn’t really that hard to pull off anymore, if a retailer is willing to invest the time building a good interface for customers. BusinessWeek has a slideshow of 10 retailers that let you customize the product before purchasing it. You can buy sneakers, purses, shirts, and even jewelry this way, or if you’re feeling really DIY you can go to a site like Ponoko or Shapeways and have product parts made to order.
It’s not necessarily any cheaper to go this route instead of a mass-produced item. A custom stand I built for my iPhone using Ponoko cost me $22 after I included shipping, for example. On the other hand, a custom-made dress shirt from Blank Label will run about $45, which wouldn’t be unheard of in a major department store.
“Cool Things You Can Design Yourself” [BusinessWeek]