Personalization - Customization - Configuration

Henry Ford advocated his “one size fits all” strategy on Model T production when he said, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.” ... Those days are gone, about 80 years now, and that's a good thing - companies are understanding the idea that each customer is unique, has his own experience and expectations, and deserves relevant, personalized and product options.

We are living in the age of the customer, an age in which the understanding of customer’s behavior and insights of his decision making process and decision making methodology will be the key to winning in all markets. IT and the handling of big data is a critical technology element in the age of the customer.

In this age of the customer, products must influence digital technologies, like the web and smartphones, to create an experience that helps educate customers about what they’re going to buy, guides them toward better decisions, enables them to make customized choices, and ultimately, helps them feel better about the purchases that they’re about to make.

Personalization and customization are just two important pillars of customers’ expectation. In the age of the customer, personalization is a great way to give customers a participatory role in the process of creating the products that they will ultimately buy. Today’s consumers don’t just want to buy off the rack.
This personalization, customization and everything you do to involve the user  offers psychological benefits that have been well proven in psychological science. If you buy something that you have personalized in some way, you feel a greater sense of psychological ownership over it because you played a role in designing it yourself.  You do not only feel like you have purchased something, but you have also 'create' something. And if we talk about B2B configurators users feel confident having a product that completely fits their needs. 

Features and tools like configurators are necessary to visualize products  much earlier within the selecting, purchasing and development lifecycle. They can be dedicated to bridging the gap between the stakeholders by improving the process of defining business applications.

In this context I like to make an incidental remark - When there are discussions about product selectors and configurators I often see that they are all too often mixed up. A product selector is actually just a different kind of guided navigation.
By this selector the customer is guided through the selection process step by step instead of giving them all the choices at once. But I have to admit that sometimes the boundaries is blurred and fluent.

With increasing circumstances, alternatives and modifications the configuration process has become complex and confusing for the consumer and even business customer. Almost every configurator is starting with a set of predefined products. The goal of mass customization today is to offer complete personalization of products for individual customers.
Therefore, this is an area that is important for every companies to think through and to consider.


Following I like to show you a few examples:

http://www.myownbike.de/



http://www.bugaboo.com



http://www.mercedes-benz.de/



http://www.porsche.com/



http://www.ultimate.lapierrebikes.com/EN/ultimate



http://www.taylorguitars.com/



http://www.rickshawbags.com/customize/custom-bag/fabric_selection/commuter-20




If you like to know more about configurators I like to point you to a report from last year - you should check out cyLEDGE's Configurator Database Report.
It offers a very good overview. It's a superb study covering 900 international web-based product configurators.

For a preview and further details visit www.configurator-database.com/report2013.




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