In a world where mass production is everywhere, people long for customized experiences and products. According to Segment, 71% of consumers express frustration with impersonal shopping experiences. From 2015-2018, interest in customized products grew 2.4x. Given the size of businesses and supply chains, mass customization may seem impossible to some, but there is a way. Product configurator is the key to helping companies from consumer goods retailers to industrial manufacturers create personalized experiences at scale.
Thanks to the digital revolution bringing more and more tech into the hands of individuals, today’s consumers have increasingly diverse needs. As far back as 1974, Burger King expressed the process of customization in a way anyone could understand: “Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us.” While fast food may be an easier product to customize than some, the principle holds true.
Personalization Through the Years
Over forty years later, companies of all different industries have formed their own approach to customization, especially in ecommerce. The least intensive form is adaptive, in which a standard product design can accommodate many uses. An example would be Philips light bulbs; customers can adjust color and brightness, change how lights are controlled, and program commands or schedules into their operation.
Next is the idea of transparent, in which a manufacturer adjusts a product based on consumer data. Function of Beauty sells uniquely formulated hair and skin products to customers in standardized packaging. Going a step further is cosmetic, where customer choices are restricted to the final stages of manufacturing.
Nike By You allows customers to add colors and finishes to a standard style and size of shoe. Finally, the most intense level of customization is collaborative, which creates a truly unique product based on customer preferences. Sheffer Cylinder Configurator is an example of this in that customers design their own cylinders with the help of an engineer. Their final product can be any length from 0.5” to 125”.
Configuration at Scale
Configured products allow businesses to combine the low cost, highly scalable benefits of standard products with the customer enjoyment of special orders. Product configurators are powered by rules that ensure the core functions of a product don’t get customized away. After the rules are set, configurable parameters may include product size, energy source, materials, and finishes. As a result, businesses can improve engagement, increase brand loyalty, and widen their customer base.
Finding the right configurator for a specific business can be difficult. Product configurators in general are best for industries that produce mechanical components, electrical components, and/or architectural products. Other industries, like retail, may seek a simpler tool. Key features important to each of these industries are 360 degree visualization (what the product will look like at any angle), real-time pricing (update the unit price with every alteration), and ease of working with a customer.
One such configurator is Cadenas eCATALOGsolutions, a rules-based product configurator with instantly available data for every product configuration. With so many tools and options, product configurators can show exactly what a business’s products can do.