Mass Customization Is Coming for E-Commerce — Here’s How Manufacturers Can Get It Right

0aaaKris Goldhair KBMax

Thanks to the immediacy of our digital age, shoppers have a growing desire for products that can be instantly customized exactly to their preferences. But the demand for customized goods does not align with the traditional e-Commerce model, where a customer can choose only from what is displayed on a retailer’s site. Mass customization demands a new approach.

Luckily, with the rise of the B2B2C commerce model, manufacturers are now able to provide a B2C-like experience to the end customer. The right CPQ (configure, price, quote) solution streamlines the formerly complex process of customization, allowing customers to see the price they will pay for the product, and send necessary designs and specifications straight to the manufacturing facility.

For example, TuffShed — the garage and storage manufacturer — utilized CPQ to redesign its buying process to offer a clean and simple drag-and-drop experience. Customers can easily discover a streamlined way to build a custom storage space on their web site and in-store at Home Depot stores nationwide. So how can other manufacturers prepare for this CPQ-driven future the way TuffShed has?


Avoiding The CPQ And Customization Pitfalls

Within the retail industry, some sub-sectors already have begun exploring the potential for mass customization of their products through the merging of CPQ (the configuration of a custom product) and e-Commerce (the sale of that custom product). Luxury retail, for example, has toyed with configuring capabilities on their web sites so that customers can see an expensive luxury product come to life in exactly the way they would like, and purchase it there right away.

This drive for customization will spread to other facets of e-Commerce. But when manufacturers look to make these capabilities a reality when producing the product, they can sometimes go about it the wrong way. Here are some missteps to avoid.

  1. Overwhelming your customers – Consumers may want choices, but user experience trumps number of options. It’s up to retailers and manufacturers to use their discretion as to which products should be customizable and which should remain standard. Proceeding slowly with customization capabilities also allows for the opportunity to build out a CPQ solution incrementally, leaving room to adapt based on customer and internal feedback. As retailers and manufacturers thoughtfully create the user-friendly product rules on the CPQ solution’s back end, they can decide what elements should and shouldn’t be customized.
  1. Pigeonholing customers with a salesperson – Consumers prefer to operate without the help of a salesperson for as long into the buying journey as possible. Your organization will struggle with high levels of cart abandonment if consumers are forced to reach out to a sales representative to understand how much the item they just customized costs. Make sure your CPQ tool allows customers to keep the whole process in their control — from configuring to pricing to purchasing.
  1. Building their own tools – When it comes to CPQ, many organizations set out to build their solutions from scratch with their own internal resources — but they’re buying the fish, not the fishing pole, so to speak. A bunch of custom code under the hood often cannot be maintained and updated the way a prebuilt admin platform can when a third party manages it.

Consumers’ expectations are evolving, and that means manufacturers and retailers together will have to rethink how they fill consumer needs as they pivot to mass customization capabilities with short lead times. Trusting in a modern CPQ solution is key to meet the rising demands and outpace competitors.


Kris Goldhair is an enterprise sales and consulting professional with industry expertise in CPQ, visual product configurators, and B2B2C experiences. Since joining KBMax in 2009, Goldhair has developed strong skills in consultative solution sales, process improvement, value discovery and customer success. As Strategic Account Director, Goldhair works with customers to demonstrate the power and scalability of KBMax’s visual product configurator that integrates with Salesforce (CPQ and Commerce Cloud) to deliver an awesome customer experience.

Feature Your Byline

Submit an Executive ViewPoints.

Featured Event

Join the retail community as we come together for three days of strategic sessions, meaningful off-site networking events and interactive learning experiences.


Access The Media Kit


Access Our Editorial Calendar

If you are downloading this on behalf of a client, please provide the company name and website information below: