Product Configurators for Modern eCommerce Business – All You Need To Know
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By: Manish Shewaramani

Product Configurators for Modern eCommerce Business – All You Need To Know

For a product-based business, it is very important to provide and manage all the product-related details efficiently and accurately. Providing accurate product details to all the members of the supply chain management is essential for increasing sales.

Product configuration process that allows in arranging the product details in a customized format that is easily accessed to fulfill the specific needs of the customers. The product configuration can be done manually but it is a tedious and time-consuming process.

A Specific tool as a product configurator helps in the process of this product configuration. The sales engineer or the person from the sales team needs to look into this product configuration either manually or automatically by using the configurator software.

This software includes the modules for CPQ that allows configuring, price, and quoting accurately. It functions as a collection of all the characteristics and parameters for a particular product.

The process of product configuration is interactive and allows communication between the product configurator and the users. It allows the user to choose a particular feature and the configuration engine allows validating the decision.

The user can proceed with the next decision. The configurator makes the configuration process simple by following the numerous configuration rules

Why does eCommerce Business need Product Configurators?

There are certain cases when the business needs to go for the product configurator. The different situations in which the business should have the product configurator include:

The number of products and features

Any organization that handles a large number of products and each of these products has more than 3 features should have the product configurator.

Testing new models and options for the product

While developing a new product, it is not required to manufacture the product. The product development team and create the virtual version of the product and test it in the product configurator. This helps in creating the models for the product and provides a detailed insight.

Determining the winning product

An organization that has several products, and they have to identify the winning product from the list, the product configurator software comes in handy. It allows analyzing the customer’s decision for configuring their products.

This makes it easy to identify the successful version of the product. Using these details the team can focus on manufacturing more winning products.

Effective use of time

It is the task of the sales team or the sales representative for keeping the record of the product details essential for the product configuration. Making use of the product configurator allows the sales representative to record all the product details automatically.

These details can be directly shared with the production team. The sales team can use this time saved while recording the details for selling the product.

Benefits of using product configurators for eCommerce business

1. Ensure that the manufacturers get the right order

A product configurator ensures your consumers are buying the right products which they looked for and ordered. It allows the customers to customize their product and save as the finished details.

This order gets saved and is directly sent to the manufacturing team. This ensures the customers that there will be no issue with the product order placed. It becomes easy for the manufacturing team as there will not be any mistakes in the order and lesser worries.

2. Reduction in lead time

The product configurator allows the customers to build their products thus the product formed will be a unique one. Implementation of the product configurator will make the sales process smoother. The sales representatives will get the information of the specific product editions and can immediately see the order by the customer thus reducing the lead time.

3. Increased customer satisfaction

Making use of the product configurator allows the customer to create the product ideal for their use. This building of the product is governed by the configuration rules.

The sole purpose of implementing these rules is to make sure that the product created is fully functional. This allows manufacturing the product without any issues. The product configurator helps in minimizing the issues thus improving customer satisfaction.

4. Better connection with the customers

The trend of online shopping has increased and used the product configurator will make the shopping experience much better. It gives the chance to the customer to design the product based on their needs and choice.

It allows them to share the picture and also archive it. Providing this configuration facility to the customers gives an improved opportunity to connect to the customers.

Different types of product configurators

There are different types of product configurators available based on the different purposes that they serve. For each of these types, the core use of these configurators remains the same. Organizations or businesses can select the best suitable type of product configurator based on their business and their needs.

Different factors need to be considered while selecting the tool and this includes the target audiences, the business goals, the complexity of the product, etc.

Marketing product configurator

The purpose of this type of configurator is to visually represent the complex product which wouldn’t be possible by making use of the traditional presentation. This configurator will not help in creating the quotes or for accurately determining the pricing of the product.

This makes use of the customer’s creativity to design their products and for visualizing how the created product will appear. This configurator is very helpful when the product is more complex.

Commercial product configurator

This is the common type of configurator used for the eCommerce industry. This configurator offers direct sales and detailed quotes. The sales representatives can directly follow up on these quotes and finalize the deal.

The commercial product allows the customers to customize their product with the smallest details required like in the case of the shoes or customizing the features required in a car, etc.

Technical product configurators

This type of configurator goes to the greatest length when considered in terms of details. As compared to the previous 2 types of marketing and commercial, this type lacks realistic visualization.

This type of configurator can cover the product variations and is used most commonly in B2B sales. The main advantage of this type of configurator is it allows in generating bills for materials along with the CAD files required for the manufacturing.

Internal configuration tools

This configurator does not directly play a role in sales but it helps the CAD designers and engineers for communicating with the main decision-makers and the machine operators. This collaboration feature in this type of tool is very useful for the business having different teams where frequent communication is essential.

For any product, getting the complete details is complex and cannot be handled by the tool. In this case, it allows optimizing the process and creating stronger connections with several stakeholders.

Impact of product customization on customers

The needs of every customer are different from any product. Not necessarily that all the customers will use the product in the same way. Considering an advanced product configurator from an award-winning product information management platform, you can improve customer engagement and conversion by creating an outstanding customer experience.

The product configuration process helps in serving the customers most efficiently. This enhances sales and business. It is also observed that the customers are willing to pay a higher cost for the purchase of the personalized product.

Advantages and disadvantages of using product configurators

Every process has its pros and cons. The process of product configuration looks simple and flawless but there might be many obstacles that the team needs to consider while implementing the different features.

Advantages of Using Product Configurators

1. Generate more sales

Making use of the product configuration leads to an increase in the sales revenue, it allows in enhancing customer satisfaction, promoting brand loyalty, improving product value, etc.

2. Stand out in the crowd

There are thousands of products in the market that create confusion in the minds of the customers while making the best choice. The customers check the product details and compare the various products to select one.

Making use of product configuration gives an edge to sales and marketing and allows in keeping the product ahead in this competitive world. It allows the customers to create a product that has all the required and best features.

3. Improved customer insights

There are important parameters like the customer data, customer trend, details regarding buying habits, etc. that are valuable assets for different types of business. It is very important to stay ahead in this competitive business and having customer insight acts as the differentiator.

Allowing the customers to create their customized products gives them a chance and opportunity to stay ahead of competitors. The configurator platform allows handling all the essential data efficiently.

4. Improves customer loyalty

The customer satisfaction level increases when they are allowed to create and design their product. This also leads to increased customer loyalty to the brand or the business. This helps to build an emotional connection between the business and the customers. Once this relationship and bond have strengthened, it is difficult for any competitors to win your customers.

Disadvantages of using the product configurators

1. High implementation cost

For product configuration, several additional features are required along with product customization. The cost of building the product configurator and developing the product customization process is a time and cost consuming process.

This process is expensive but has an outstanding investment for enriching the customer experience. The returns gained by this product configurator are higher.

2. Challenges faced for managing customer experience

Digitalization and online shopping experiences have increased the demand for same-day delivery, discounts, offers, etc. Competitors take advantage of this to attract customers. In the case of product customization and configuration, the cost of the product increases along with the time required to deliver the product.

This can act as an obstacle in managing the customer experience as a customer will expect to get the customized product at faster delivery and with discounts. The business needs to make it clear to their customers that customization is a premium service and thus delivery timeline will be prolonged and at an increased cost.

3. Slow down the manufacturing process

Customization allows the customer to add or select the different features that may be different from the standard features. It becomes difficult for the manufacturing team to predict the different combinations based on the product built by the customer.

The production timeline for these customized products will be different from the predefined combinations available for the product. It might take time to create customized combinations.

Essential product configurator software for Manufactures

If you own a manufacturing company, then you should have the below-listed absolute product configurator software to meet the expectation of modern consumers.

1. Visual product configuration

It is one of the most powerful tools used by different teams like the customers, sales team, distributors, etc. These tools help to build the product in 2D and 3D space along with the additional details like base options for sales, pricing, add-ons, upgrades, discounts, etc.

As customers prefer viewing the digital assets before making the purchase, the visual product configuration is gaining importance.

2. Flexible product rules engine

For any configuration, it is important to follow the rule engine. These rules and conditions define the proper configurations essential for the proper functioning of the product. It allows for adequate pricing, ordering, and output. While selecting the best configurator, it is important to check for its administration, maintenance, etc.

3. Document generation and leading to automated manufacturing

All the configurations made should be captured and passed to the CRM, PLM, and ERP. The CPQ solutions will allow in generating the CAD drawing and aid the production team in the manufacturing automation. The documents generated in the process of automation will benefit the production team.

4. Sales automation process

The different key areas need to be addressed that include dynamic pricing, auto-generated proposals, workflows, etc. This is essential as the customer configures the product, based on the features selected, the cost of the product will change. This costing should be controlled by the centralized pricing rules.

Bottom Line

Allowing the customers to create a unique product has its pros and cons. Providing these premium services of product configuration helps in improving customer engagement, enhanced customer satisfaction, etc. It allows the business to stay ahead in the competition. Using the right type of product configurator is also essential for its efficient functioning and depends on the company’s needs.

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