The age of manufacturing has changed from mass production to mass customization. The mantra is no longer “any color you want as long as it's black.” Companies like Dell have mastered the ability to provide customized products in high quantities, and with there large market share in the computer industry, it makes sense that other companies would attempt to provide the same customizable features. In a saturated market like the sneaker industry, companies will do near anything to differentiate and off unique products to their customers. Two market leaders, Nike and Puma, have taken a big step in providing mass customized shoes to their customers. This is done through two websites, NikeID and Puma Mongolian Shoe BBQ. These two sites offer interactive software for users to take a shoe from scratch, and add their own designs or colors to create a completely customized pair of shoes. The following will review both websites in their attempt to offer customized products through interactive software. Then I will review first-hand experience of using both websites and present one pair of customized shoes that I created.
The NikeID website is a flashy and looks driven website. Nike plasters Kobe Bryant on the front of the website and offers drop down menus of each line of shoe they offer. Sneakers ranging from football to track, men’s to women’s, are offered on the site. Nike was attempting to push their athletic footwear by displaying Kobe Bryant, their top endorsement holder. The drop down menus have tons of options and can be somewhat daunting to any user. When I first visited the site I was not sure where to go to customize my own shoes and after talking with others, they agreed that it took them some time to get to the customization page. The Puma site is built differently than Nike’s. Instead of a total user controlled system, Puma has their site set up so that each person follows a set of instructions to build their shoes. It is displayed as if the user were cooking something, hence the Mongolian BBQ theme. Puma’s site is set up so that a step-by-step process is done to create customized shoes. The site was less complex than Nike’s but at the same offered fewer models to customize.
Both sites attempted to create an easy-to-use interface where users could go to the website and create their shoes in a matter of minutes and place the order. With regards to the styles and looks of the sneakers, both sites offer diverse but different colors and models. The NikeID site is more focused on solid colors for several segments of the shoes. The Puma site leaves something to be desired in colors. The patterns tended to be ugly and not solid colored. And it felt like there was 100 different sections of the shoes to alter. While this may be considered good by some people, completing a fully customized pair of shoes requires at least 10-20 minutes, and in some cases the same colors aren’t offered for each section of the shoe. NikeID offers different patterns for each section (although some patterns can come in only one color) and has only a few colors per section. There are much fewer sections on the Nike site and thus less customization.
The two websites were created differently but essentially with the same goal in mind: to offer complete customized sneakers online with the ability to order. Nike focused the main page of their website more on athletic shoes while Puma, whose shoes are in no way meant to be athletic, offered a creative cooking style site. Both offer different variations of colors and designs and one site is better than the other in that sense (Nike). With regard to speed, the process of customization was faster on Nike’s site, but the load time of the intro video, the main page, and each point and click section of the shoe had a little lag. For users who have a slow bandwidth, this might render their experience with the NikeID software slow and ineffective. The Puma site was somewhat faster than Nike and with a lot of experience on the internet, it really disappoints people when its difficult to load a webpage.
In the end, both sites achieve the same goal and allow users to customize their sneakers. While there are differences between the two in areas like design, color, and bandwidth, the two essentially do the same thing in different ways.
After using both sites to customize my own shoes I believe that the better customization site is NikeID. The Nike site gave me an easier and more efficient way of creating sneakers. With a point-and-click feature, where each section of the shoe can be changed with one or two clicks, Nike’s site simplified the process and made it much easier for me complete my pair of sneakers. I attempted to make the same design with both sites, centered around the Philadelphia Phillies (the 2008 World Champions). After spending roughly 10 minutes on my NikeID design, I was very satisfied with the end product. When I attempted to recreate the design or something like it on the Puma site, I found it very difficult to create anything that looked like what I wanted. I attempted other designs focused around other
In the end, I felt that Nike was much better at utilizing online mass customization technology. The NikeID site at first appears to be a little too confusing, but after some navigation and clicking I was able to create a pair of sneakers that I thought were cool looking and that no Phillie would have any trouble wearing while parading around with their World Series trophy and rings. As you can see, the sneakers display the red, white, and grey colors of the Phillies, while providing a nice message on the back. “F ING CHAMPS” in honor of second baseman Chase Utley’s unforgettable remarks.