Product Configurator Development: what you have to consider
Online shopping really picked up in the recent years, and with the restrictions imposed in the wake of Covid 19, this trend has really accelerated several times fold. In spite of all that, buyers often feel that the product they ordered isn’t exactly the one they needed, or what they perceived. This could be because the product description, the image and the actual thing that they get aren’t the one and the same.
Hence it is so important for visitors to actually see what they are buying in real terms, and thus, would reduce the return rates and remove buyer’s remorse or guilt.
This is where Product Configuration comes in.
What is Product Configuration?
Product Configuration is an interesting trend, and has been really popular for the past few years. The term has been derived from the concept of product customisation. Product customisation is all about personalising the product for the customer to aid in their buying decision. And that is where the product configurator comes into use.
The entire purpose of e-commerce is to make online shopping experience enticing to the customer. Almost everyone knows how to make an online purchase, and they go through different products from different sellers to understand which ones they like. But in product configurator, the customer can customise their choice of product, preview the image, make additional options if they are available, make changes to the existing options, and try different combinations until they find the one that they like.
The need for product configurators
Product configurator is an interactive software that lets visitors customize the product according to their taste and preferences, for example, color, texture, size, text, image etc.to see if these options are available.
For example, if an online store is selling bicycles, the visitor has a number of options to choose from – MTB, hybrid or road bike, the size, color, specifications, tire brand name and size, and other components. The customer has so many opportunities to customise with their product of choice.
Once the visitor makes a selection based on the preferences and options available, the configuration engine will validate the decision to make sure the options are actually available at the store.
So, do all businesses need a product configurator?
Of course not. Not all businesses need a product configurator, but medium to large sized businesses do need one because they might have so many products with so many different options. The configuration can really help speed up the buying process, and automate the process, thereby dramatically shortening the time to market process.
A product becomes configurable if it can be customised with all the features and variables that customers need. It is also important to check whether the product is compliant with the relevant government regulations so there won’t be issues later on. Having an automated product configurator will be greatly helpful in auto generating the product information, reducing the chances of human error.
Timely generation of proposals
If you are looking to generate product proposals in a timely manner, then having an automated configurator would make this faster, and with much precise results. Especially if your product has more than three features, having this tool would be helpful.
Testing new models and options
It would be a good idea to create virtual versions of new and upcoming products to run by your customers to see what they think about them. It is possible to create 3D versions of this and gain insight into what they think about it.
Understand which is your most winning product
If you have a whole range of products, and you are not sure which is the most successful one out of all of them is, the product configurator can fit right in, and tell you which it would be. This would help you manufacture more of the winning product.
Ensure that the manufacturer gets the right order
Imagine getting the orders mixed up! That can be a real bummer to your business. Once the visitor decides to buy a product from your online store, and uses the tool to configure the entire product, the details would be sent to the manufacturing team so the order can be prepared. There will be room for zero error, so no worries on that count.
Here are some best practices to follow with product configurators
Keeping the users entertained and focussed
Shopping should be a fun, entertaining and focussed. If a person wants to buy a product from you, they should not be distracted and go somewhere else. So it is important to keep them entertained and focussed through the product configuration process. They must have all the information they need to make a hassle-free purchase. You must have noticed the ‘how-to’ video of products In e-commerce websites, this is exactly why they do it.
Make sure the customers get to see the 360° view of the product
Customers are not seeing the real thing, and seeing all parts of their product from different angles will make it seem like the real thing. With a product configurator, there is mimicking of a real store experience that makes it worthwhile to the customer.
Navigate the shopping experience for the customer
A customer could get lost in a brick and mortar store, but never in a store supported by a product configurator. The customer will always be aware of their current position, so they can navigate easily, and make easy purchases.
Give different options to the customer to configure the product
Imagine you have a shoe store that sells different varieties of shoes through the online portal. Give options to customers so they can customize the shoe in any available pattern, design or color available in your manufacturing unit. They can configure the product, move to the final steps, and continue towards check out and payment. This would be a totally different shopping experience that your customers will cherish and talk about!
Pick up from they left off
There is no doubt that having a product configurator would definitely take your e-commerce portal to the next level of growth. It would not only help the customer, but your business as well, because you would be selling better, thanks to the better inventory management with the product configurator. You will never miss out on any customer, or what they need.
There is full transparency on the pricing factor too because the customer will be able to monitor the changing prices of the product and its related accessories as they keep customizing. So there wouldn’t be any nasty surprises in the end.
The author: Sascha Thattil works at Software-Developer-India.com which is a part of the YUHIRO Group. YUHIRO is a German-Indian enterprise which provides programmers to IT companies, agencies and IT departments.