Mass customization is a powerful business tool which is now swiftly changing the face of retailing, especially e-commerce industry. To be detailed, mass customization refers to the process of accommodating the customer’s preferences into extended-market goods and services. It enables particular modifications by the clients, which are translated into mass production to enhance the value of a product or service.
Nowadays it is becoming a prevailing habit for clients to search out products that can be modified according to their own specific preferences or demands. Clothes, bags, jewelry, vehicles and even furniture can all be bought with a scope of customizable alternatives. Giving these choices to personalize products allows customers to get exactly what they want and therefore helps improve satisfaction level and brand loyalty.
Baume: the first 3D Watch Customizer
Baume is a luxury brand based in Switzerland offering high end and cutting edge watches. The company recently launched a program, first showcased in VivaTech Paris, that enables its customers to personalize the watch with more than 2,000 possible combinations, including hands, dial, straps, engraving messages and cases. Baume’s ambition is to make possible for clients to codesign with the brand their own dream watch in a “touch and feel” system with an interactive 3D product configurator.
This technology, provided by a French tech startup Hapticmedia, was entirely integrated into the e-commerce website of Baume and enables every customer to make their own fully personalized watch. All watches are sold online and the company takes care of the customizations once the order is placed.
In addition, the company also provides a touch screen terminal for customers enabling them to configure their watch at a pop-up shop. To further improve the customization process, they can also connect phones to a wristband with QR codes to create a real life visualization of the watch on their own wrist, with help of AR and VR technology, so to have a 360° view of everything before taking the final.
Nike ID – Pioneer in Footwear Mass Customization
As Nike moved into an online business, the company made a triple-layered customized supply chain for their collection of footwear.
Top of the line was their Core Customized shoe featuring up to 20 different attributes. The price point for Core Customized was around $200 with longer turnaround time. Then there was an intermediate tier which offered up to 6 choices that could be made in about fourteen days or less. The third tier was simply a standard shoe model called Sub-7 where Nike would take the customer’s order and then customize the shoe with the stock inventory. The last one took less than a week to ship.
Nike understood that they need to fulfill orders quickly. Therefore, they partnered with Flex and in reality this partnership was regarded as a revolution for manufacture industry. It was basically a large scale manufacture of customized shoes, including taking off-the-shelf products and carrying out minor personalization for the customer.
Dell – Mass Customization in Personal Computing
We can’t talk about mass customization and leave Dell out of the equation. Dell sells an average of 50 million personal computers every year including laptops, AIOs and desktops. It is currently the third largest PC vendor globally only behind HP and Lenovo.
One of the reasons for Dell’s success is its nimble supply chain which enables the company to bring highly modular computers to its customers. You can customize the product to include a multitude of functions such as the screen resolution, the screen panel type (LCD vs OLED), the amount of RAM, the type and size of storage, the processor and the graphics card. This allows customers to hit the right balance of price and performance.
Today every other PC manufacturer including HP, Lenovo, Microsoft, Acer, Razer and even Apple allows customers to personalize their computers at the point of sale. This may also include aesthetical customization apart from the functional one, such as different colors and sizes. Whether the client is looking for a computer for business purposes or entertainment, they can simply go to the website and choose the PC they want in a few clicks. That’s what power of mass customization can do.
The Future of Mass Customization
Mass customization is destined to supplant large scale manufacturing. This statement is valid because it lessens inefficiency and improves productivity. The fact that businesses manage to charge extra from clients for customization clearly shows that the market is embracing this trend.
For example, in Levi Strauss, 80% of the exclusively requested pants are easily accessible off the shelf but the clients still tend to make customized requests through the Personal Pair plan to have an expected sense of satisfaction. Custom Foot’s Keegan, a footwear brand, also affirms such customer conducts.
Customers nowadays are far more educated to understand that they are not supposed to buy whatever the business thinks is best for them. The power has been transferred and brands need to concentrate on the personalized demands of each client if they want to be competitive in today’s market, and this fact alone demonstrates mass customization will continue to push ahead.