Using digital communications and options selection, product customization can boost business and give brands an advantage against competition.
Digitization has produced many new trends that are also turning the economy upside down. In e-commerce in particular, we have to bear in mind how rapidly development is actually happening.
Think what has happened since 1994 when a Sting CD was first sold on the Internet. The first online shops were started and platforms like Amazon and eBay, which initially did not sell anything themselves, were launched. Shop systems like Magento or Salesforce emerged. New payment methods were springing up – whether NFC, QR code, wallet or Bitcoin. Same-day delivery came and is now same-hour delivery. Smartphones became suitable for the masses and shop pages had to be optimized for mobile use. And on and on …
And while that has happened in the last 15 years, the next innovations will come much faster. Because: what is happening right now?
- Online and offline are growing ever closer together thanks to omnichannel strategies
- Mobile apps, geofencing, beacons and other mobile marketing approaches are being tested
- Self-driving cars and drones are being tested for delivery
- Augmented reality applications are being brought into stores, virtual reality is becoming suitable for the masses
- Artificial intelligence is finding its way into marketing – in the form of automation and chatbots
The new customer: the world in a pocket with their smartphone
All of these developments are driven by those who apply them. From the humans! Even in the poorer countries of the world, they have their smartphones ready to communicate, get information and go shopping. Some apps are celebrating huge success stories there, such as the M-Pesa payment app in Kenya – one of the most successful of its kind worldwide! This success is no coincidence, because apps give users a lot of power. In the form of knowledge, in the form of a voice and in the form of independence that leads to customers wanting more product customization.
And that poses major challenges, especially in e-commerce! Because the users use the options open to them. They compare prices, delivery times and product reviews, get information and exchange ideas. And if something doesn’t fit, they just write a customer complaint on a rating portal. So in this world, product customization can boost business by making sure the customer is able to customize the product to suit them perfectly.
Use product customization to boost business
The many comparison options give us an overview of the wide variety of products that we as customers enjoy. We emancipate ourselves from our local radius of action and can shop anywhere in the world. And with it, the demands also increase.
Because with the emergence of social media (an innovation that we haven’t even mentioned above!), A trend that dates back to the last century has become immensely stronger: the trend towards individualizing our lifestyles. Self-expression is becoming part of life that customers celebrate everywhere on their Facebook timelines. You want to be individual, original, creative. And that is also lived out in consumption.
This phenomenon is not new to modern society. Many people define themselves through their consumption. And with the possibilities of e-commerce and the increased analysis of user data, many product manufacturers and shops have recognized this. Automobile manufacturers or hardware stores are responding to this trend by allowing customers to actually put together “their” car or PC according to their own needs and wishes.
Standard table: Example of product customization
Furniture is a product that fits in perfectly with our times: by designing our own four walls, we transform living into life and show guests our personality. For this reason alone, it makes sense to offer pieces of furniture that each customer can put together individually and according to his taste.
How will industry reinvent itself? Businesses will have to address the most burning topics between competitive pressure, digitization, start-ups and the challenges for stationary retail.
For this reason, many online retailers in the industry have already introduced configurators where you can do just that with a click of the mouse. And this is how it works with a custom-made table, where users can easily put together living room, dining or bedroom furniture made of particularly high-quality material. You click through a simple menu in which you virtually assemble tables according to model, type of wood, sorting, dimensions and accessories. The table analysis that is offered after the creative work is also great . This explains exactly how many people each table is suitable for, how high the corresponding chairs should ideally be, with which furniture the piece can best be combined and where in the room it should be best.
It’s all very simple. . . or is it?
Customization and mass production: two natural enemies come together
It’s not that simple after all – and that’s a challenge that is well known throughout the industry. Because the manufacture of individual products runs counter to the logic according to which our economy functioned for more than a century: mass production. For a long time, value chains were designed to produce a lot of goods quickly and to bring them to stores, to customers or (absolutely) to warehouses.
But if everyone wants their very own table, it is suddenly no longer that easy, which is why companies have to create new conditions for production and sales.