Why a configurator should move from mass production to mass
he move from mass producing thousands or millions of identical products to
producing thousands or millions of personalized or customized products is being
made possible by the integration of sales and product configurators in the selling
and manufacturing process.
Already long in use, product configurators have been helping sales people create and price
complex products for their customer quotations. In the beginning, these tools were rather
simple and were not integrated in with the ERP or CRM sytems or when only with
Now product configuration software is available in many different variations, ranging from
on demand- software as a service solution, hosted and local based installations.
Product configurators are no longer banned to the back-office and manufacturing centers,
they are also being provided to sales channel partners and customers via the internet.
Product configurators bring a myriad of benefits to both customers and manufacturers.
Some of the benefits customers require are:
1. Immediate feedback regarding product selection and price
2. Immediate product visualization
3. Co-creation of products amongst peers and experts
Benefits of configurators appealing to manufacturers are:
1. Auditable control of pricing in sales channels
2. Business roles are enforced; sales are selling, engineers are engineering
3. Minimization of order processing errors (i.e. typos, unbuildable product) leads to
reduced returns, restocking and claims
4. Scale your sales channels without increasing employee overhead, by providing pre-sales
technical help via your sales and product configurator.
5. Speed your time to quote by removing interaction with engineering employees.
If a product configurator is so great why isn’t everyone using one?
1. Too busy selling
2. Not aware of costs associated with their sales process - quoting, quality and fulfillment of
customer needs and requirements
3. Afraid of an (other) IT project and its scale
Interestingly, the points above are a bit of a devil’s circle. Sales is too busy selling to want to
audit their sales process or take on an IT process. Not being aware of the costs of their sales
process, they do not want to take the time from selling to audit their costs or take on a
project with unknown returns.
In this case it is important that Sales take time to monitor their costs of selling. The more
orders they are creating without a formalized sales quotation tool, they more costly errors
they are potentially creating. Only after an audit, can a company weigh the benefits of a
moving to a sales configurator tool to remaining with the status quo. In most cases, an
evaluation shows that a sales configurator tool brings a quick return over staying with the
status quo of using personal productivity suites (i.e. spreadsheets and word processors).
While producing quotations for product coming off a mass production assembly line can be
handled by sales people, in order to achieve the scale and cost efficiencies of mass
production, mass customizers must be able to handle and process tens and hundreds of
thousands of orders. This can only be achieved by automating the sales and order taking
process and this can only be achieved by allowing customers to create and customize their
desired product variant with a product configurator.
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