The 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.
Why a configurator should move from mass production to mass customization T 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 significant costs. 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. For More Information On Product Configurators, Product Configurator Software And Guided Selling, Please Visit: http://www.configuratorondemand.com
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