05 November 2014
Help the consumer help themselves. Quality self-service is an admirable goal for both businesses and customers, but it’s not always easy. How do you guide the consumer while simultaneously giving them the independence they desire? When you’ve got two competing objectives, delivering the best customer experience gets tricky. The answer is product configuration.
A configurator is software that allows your customer to list the exact specifications they’re looking for in a product.
They then submit that order to obtain a quote and build a custom product for manufacture. Product configuration encourages the customer to partake in self-service, yet it still gives your company the sales tools you want with guided selling. Configurators may also be the solution for some vendors, especially in B2B, that think their products are just too complicated for eCommerce. What are the benefits? Here are five reasons product configuration makes sense for your eBusiness:
1. Configurators are great for complex products.
Many venders assume that they sell products that are just too complex to be handled by an eCommerce solution. Some products, particularly in the B2B realm, have many features, options, and calculations involved. The introduction of product configuration, however, allows these complex products to be pieced together by the customers themselves. This is much more convenient than having to list each and every permutation in a vast product catalogue.
2. Product configuration helps your team.
When a customer knows exactly what they want, this saves an enormous amount of effort for your sales department. A customer who submits an order for a quote becomes an immediate lead, asking to be contacted back. This allows your sales team to concentrate their best efforts on those customers who have an idea of what they’re looking for. Meanwhile, the customer is pleased. Their quote time got cut from weeks to minutes. And the online self-service process freed your product experts to take care of more critical issues than helping customers go back and forth on configuration options.
3. Customer self-service reduces lead times.
Product configuration gives you the flexibility of custom products at your disposal. eCommerce allows you to offer the materials from your entire inventory, upfront to your customer. Meanwhile, the configurator is programmed to eliminate product combinations that simply don’t work because of technical or regulatory reasons. Combined, the product configuration process reduces the typical time used for order entry, corrections, and processing. This makes for a happier customer and lower costs for you.
4. Manufacturing gets the right order.
Product configuration is a great way to ensure that the customer is getting exactly what they want. Why? Because they built it themselves! With a configurator, you know when the bills of material gets to manufacturing, the shop has the right order. And you also know that you’ve got the materials needed for manufacture because if they weren’t available in your inventory, your configurator wouldn’t have offered them.
5. Configurators make for great marketing.
Here’s one you might not know: Product configuration brings out the creative spirit in people. Customers get artistically invested in “their” product creation. Once a customer configures a product, such as a car, they might then want to share their creation on social media. Then other potential customers get interested and click on the car to try out their own configuration. It’s fun.
It’s easier than ever for your customers to buy complex products from you. You’re no longer constrained by the hours of a few product experts or the limited inventory on your shelves. It’s a customizable new world, and product configuration empowers your customers. Stay tuned for Part II of this series, where we’ll go over the essentials for a great product configurator.