When was the last time, you went to a retail store to buy a mobile or headphone or any other consumer electronic device? Buying products online has moved from trend to mainstream. You don’t see people sharing their fear of entering their credit card details online.
In short, people are buying more through the online store and we witness a steady decline in offline transactions.
Importance of customization:
There is a famous quote from Henry Ford on his popular Model- T “You can have any color as long as it’s black”. From an era of mass production that started during the industrial revolution in Europe, now in the 21st century the we now are looking at the exact opposite phenomenon of mass customization.
With newer technologies and increased competition companies have shifted their focus from being production oriented to customer centric. In simple words these days’ customers don’t buy everything that companies produce instead companies listen to customer needs prior to production. Hence its very natural that we see a similar trend setting happening in the e-commerce space.
For ecommerce retailers there is a lot of effort that’s goes into bringing a visitor to the site and if they are not able to make a sale out of it then conversion rates take a beating. In the customer’s perspective, they don’t get enough choices due to which they go window shopping elsewhere. Product customization makes a perfect bridge in making these ends meet. While the customer can customize the product according their wish, retailers can be assured that the conversion rates improve.
Report from Bain on “Making it personal: Rules for success in product customization” mentions that consumers who customize a product are more engaged and spend more than consumers who buy standard products
There is another school of critics who believe that product customization can alter the production process and reduces the manufacturing efficiency. While it’s true that it alters the process, but the value we provide by producing a personalized product overcomes the small increase that incurs in the production pipeline.
The cost involved in the changes that are done to the production pipeline, is very minimal compared to the high amount of stock that remains unsold because it did not meet customers’ requirements. For example, Swatch starts with the basic core for most of their watches while the customization happens in the very last stage there by maintaining production efficiency.
All these data points and examples have reiterated the fact that product customization is here to stay, while its stays we believe that we are just scratching the tip of the iceberg.
Advantages of Product Customization:
Product Feedback Loop:
When customers tailor make made their product purely based on their requirements, it serves as a great insight for sellers to understand more about their audience. If sellers find any pattern among their customers, then they can take it up for product feature enhancement.
Everyone knows word-of-mouth marketing is best way to reach new customers. Since customers have invested their time in customization to match the product to their taste. Customers tend to share it through social channels. Which help brands to get higher exposure than regular marketing activity.
A common issue in business is gap in communication. Even in this age of instantaneous communication getting to know what is in the mind of the customer is a challenge. Giving customers the option to customize their own products reduces this risk to a great extent.
Few Recommendations Before Implementation
Easy To Design:
There are a few risks in providing customization option. As a merchant its your duty to make sure it’s easier for the buyer to design the product. If they find it difficult to design or if they are bombarded with options they may lose interest quickly.
When companies tend provide customized solution they may miscalculate price point. Particularly in B2B deals, every penny counts. We highly recommend companies to be very clear about their value proposition and product price.
Myth About Integrating Customization
If you have come till here but still skeptic about integrating customization to your B2B store. No worries, we got you covered. We have listed down some of the common myth among executives about selling customized products.
Long Time To Integrate:
No. Companies can sell customized products by building their own customization engine or they can integrate third party tools. If you go with first option it may take some time, but it’s better to integrate SAAS based products like productimize and start selling customized products in few weeks.
High Investment Required :
No. Retailers can spend a small fee to purchase customization plugin from their respective e-commerce marketplace or they can try out other cloud based customization engine providers for a nominal monthly fee. Since there is no long term commitment, companies can try selling customization products without much investment.
3D printing which was initially used to build prototypes is now used in a variety of industries right from healthcare to aerospace. If combined with the right technical aspects 3D printing with its high precision and quick turnaround time can be a game changer in building highly customized products. For starters,most of the high end customized fashion jewelry use 3D printing to ensure every intricate design detail is captured perfectly.
We have heard enough virtual reality in the gaming and mobile space. An ecommerce store is also a virtual store in your laptop and mobiles. By combining the power of VR with ecommerce, retailers can not only bring in a real time shopping experience but combine it with advanced customization.
We are in the brink of an experiential economy where every customer wants to feel special and embraced. Organizations that invest on providing such an experience are bound stand out from the rest and move ahead in the competition.