Emilia Dunaj
Emilia Dunaj
Head of Technology Insights
April 2024, 12 min. read

In the business-to-business market, inaccurate orders due to miscommunication and errors in calculations can lead to expensive production problems. That’s why creating an effective online experience with a reliable product sales configurator for B2B eCommerce is becoming crucial.

But what makes great sales configurator software that your customers enjoy using? 

It’s the features! 

The right set of functionalities can make a significant difference in how your B2B clients experience your products. And, whether they come back for more business or not. 

In this article, we’re breaking the list of key features of product configuration tools essential for B2B eCommerce. We’ll also examine how these features respond to the demands of modern users and their real value for your businesses and your B2B clients. 

What is a product sales configurator for B2B eCommerce?

The transition from traditional sales methods to digital sales platforms has accelerated in recent years. Even B2B buyers are becoming increasingly self-sufficient in their purchasing journey. 

In fact, research from Gartner says that 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will be digital by 2025. 

B2B product configurators play a crucial role in this shift. These tools are software-based expert systems that allow users to customize products to their specific needs, ensuring the final configurations are viable for manufacturing. They provide an interactive, precise approach to customer service.

Unlike standard eCommerce transactions, B2B dealings often involve complex products with numerous customizable options. And, in this model, purchases are often based on detailed requirements and specifications, rather than impulsive.

Sales configurators ease the complexity of these B2B transactions. They guide users through the customization process in a way that is comprehensive yet not overwhelming, applying rules and constraints to ensure possible configurations. Their assistance helps customers to pinpoint exactly what they need, adhering to necessary specifications and avoiding potential missteps in the customization process.

5 Benefits of B2B eCommerce sales configurators 

In many industries, like B2B manufacturing, product complexity slows configuration and increases the chance of human error. But, introducing a B2B eCommerce product configurator solution can help fix up this process.

Let’s break down the product configurator benefits that your B2B business can take advantage of:

1. Highly capable digital sales consultant

Web product configurators are your 24/7 digital sales consultants, guiding customers through the configuration process anytime, anywhere. Providing access to such tools boosts customer satisfaction, which often leads to loyal business partnerships.

2. Streamlined sales processes

A visual product configurator sets a clear, step-by-step path for your sales process, which is easy for everyone to follow. It helps your team and customers move through each sale smoothly, ensuring none of the steps are missed. Also, your new staff can learn the process much quicker, ensuring consistency and efficiency in every transaction right from the start.

3. Meeting exact customer needs

Configurators help you sell precisely what your customers are looking for. Thanks to clear customization options, performance calculation features, and visualizations, your customers are more likely to get it right the first time, leading to happier customers and fewer returns. Consequently, this saves you time and money.

4. Shorten sales cycle

Integrating sales automation through configurators can drastically shorten the sales cycle. This efficiency accelerates the process and reduces the human error element, ensuring more accurate and reliable interactions from the start. As a result, your sales teams will have more time to focus on more complex tasks and customer interactions.

5. Higher conversion rates

Typically, the B2B product configuration is an interactive experience. An easy-to-use and well-designed tool can directly contribute to higher conversion rates. Customers who can easily find and customize products are more likely to complete a purchase.

Now that you know the benefits these online configuration tools bring to your B2B business, let’s jump to learning 13 key features that make up a great configurator.

13 Essential features to expect from a product sales configurator

A solid sales configurator performs multiple tasks and has multiple features. Recent survey results suggest that 60% of companies consider sales order processing tasks as the most used feature of this tool. Additionally, 29% use it for generating product documents and drawings, and 11%–for creating manufacturing documents, like routing and process plans.

Major tasks and percentages
Image source

The right set of features ensures a more engaging and satisfying product experience (PX). Your tool can contribute to driving customer loyalty and potentially increasing sales. 

Now, let’s discuss the strategic features you need in your app. 

1# Product customization and configuration

The core feature of a complex product configurator for eCommerce is that it makes it easy for customers to tailor your products or services to fit their specific needs. It’s especially useful in B2B e-commerce for complex items or large projects.

Customers can use this system to pick the exact size, material, and features they need for their project. This way, the product they order will fit just right, avoiding the need for costly changes later. A rules-based configurator also checks that all the choices users make are possible to produce based on the rules you set.

Car Customization and configuration
Project Source

2# Well-designed User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX)

A well-designed interface looks great and ensures the configuration process is intuitive and engaging, even for customers who aren’t tech-savvy. The goal is to make the configurator so intuitive that even first-time users can navigate the customization options without feeling lost or overwhelmed. 

A well-designed product configurator simplifies the configuration process by logically organizing choices and applying clear rules and constraints. This organization helps minimize confusion and maximize efficiency. It makes what could be a complex process user-friendly and straightforward. 

3# Guided selling

This feature leads customers through the selection process with interactive workflows and product recommendations. It streamlines the journey towards the optimal product configuration. The system asks the right questions at the right steps, suggests suitable solutions, and displays warnings for inappropriate choices. Consequently, users are empowered to make more informed decisions.

For example, in a B2B setting, a client may be unsure about the specifications needed for their business. Guided selling can direct them to the best choices based on their responses, ensuring a match that meets their unique requirements.

guided selling example
Project Source

4# Mobile optimization

Your sales configurator should have a responsive design and operate smoothly across all devices. Today’s customers expect the flexibility to interact with your product, regardless of their location or the device they’re using. This is especially important if you have sales reps or partner with specialists who configure products on-the-go. 

By ensuring your app is mobile/tablet friendly, you’re widening your reach and adapting to the evolving needs of your B2B customers. This makes the configuration process more accessible and user-friendly for everyone involved.

5# Interactive 3D visualizations

Realistic product visualizations take customer engagement to a new level. This feature lets customers see and interact with products in 3D, giving them a real feel for what they’re buying. It’s much more informative than just looking at pictures because they can view detailed attributes and features from every angle. 

3D visualization example

Plus, incorporating AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) features can make this experience even more immersive.

A 3D product configurator brings a product to life right before your customer’s eyes. As they customize their product, they can see the changes happen in real-time. It’s an interactive way to ensure customers know what to expect, reducing surprises and enhancing the overall buying experience.

6# Performance simulations

For some industries, like HVAC or automotive manufacturing, performance simulations are absolutely critical. They allow users to see how the configured product will behave under various real-world conditions. Showing these simulations is essential to ensure every product meets the specific needs it’s designed for.

Performance simulations example
Project Source

Performance simulations help prevent potential issues by allowing customers to test and verify product capabilities in a virtual setting before making a purchase. This feature ensures your B2B clients get a product that performs as expected in the environment it’s intended for. 

7# Dynamic calculations 

Dynamic calculations are a powerful feature, particularly for industries where customizations can significantly alter product specifications like weight or dimensions. This functionality automatically recalculates these values based on the user’s selections, ensuring that the information provided is always accurate and up-to-date.

Dynamic calculations example
Project Source

This real-time updating is crucial for transparency. Your customers see how each choice affects the final project. Additionally, the dynamic calculations help to ensure the products fit precisely within a specific space or configuration. This functionality helps customers make informed decisions by understanding the implications of their customizations.

8# Real-time pricing

As customers tweak features or options, the prices change accordingly, giving them immediate insight into the cost impact of their choices. This feature keeps pricing transparent and helps clients make informed decisions, understanding exactly how their selections affect their budget. 

real time pricing of the car
Project Source

The system can suggest additional options that are compatible with user’s selections, like offering choices across different tiers and specifications to suit various needs and budgets. 

Furthermore, updating prices in your system should be simple. It’s essential for staying on top of market shifts and material costs. This ensures your prices are always right and up-to-date, which is key for maximizing profits and keeping your products competitive and appealing.

9# User accounts and saved configurations

Allowing users to create personal accounts and save their complex configurations are two very handy features. 

Think about a client working on a large project who needs to collaborate with their team before finalizing a decision. With this feature, they can configure custom products, save the configurations, and then easily revisit or modify them later as needed. This flexibility is crucial in B2B, where decision-making can be complex and involve multiple stakeholders.

These features give customers the ability to pause, discuss with their team, and then return to their work without losing any progress. Your configurator becomes more adaptable and user-friendly, fitting perfectly into the often extended decision cycles in B2B transactions.

10# Clear Bill of Materials (BOM)

This function automatically generates a detailed list of all parts, materials, and components that make up the final configured product. For B2B customers, especially in industries like manufacturing or engineering, having an accurate and clear BOM is crucial. 

A clear BOM helps companies understand exactly what components are included in their product, how these components fit together, and the costs associated with each part. This level of detail is essential for planning, budgeting, and ensuring compatibility with existing systems or projects. Moreover, BOM helps in communication and collaboration within and across your teams. It’s a reliable reference document that can be shared among project managers, procurement teams, and technical staff. This way, everyone knows what to expect, helping to avoid any mix-ups or mistakes.

Bill of Materials (BOM) example
Project Source

11# PDF document generation

After a customer finalizes their product choice, the configurator automatically creates detailed PDFs. These documents can include various information, from technical specs and CAD drawings to contracts and user manuals, all matched to the specific product they’ve configured.

This feature is particularly useful for B2B clients who need to review details or get approvals. They get all the important info they need in one neat package, making it easier for them to make decisions and move forward with their projects. This automatic, detailed documentation saves time and highlights the accuracy and professionalism of the transaction.

12# Compliance and certification information

This feature ensures that every configuration option available meets various compliance standards, whether they’re environmental, safety, or industry-specific, like ISO standards in manufacturing or HIPAA in healthcare.

In the context of ever-changing regulations, a tailor-made and scalable product configurator is particularly important. As standards evolve, the flexibility allows for easy updates to reflect new requirements. This adaptability is essential for businesses that need to stay compliant with current regulations without overhauling their entire system.

By including this info in the configurator, it reassures customers that whatever they pick follows all the necessary regulations. It’s a way to handle complex rules easily, giving both you and your customers peace of mind.

13# Multilingual support and localization

Multilingual support and localization in your configurator open the door to a global market. This feature means that the configurator can be used in multiple languages, catering to customers from different parts of the world. Moreover, It makes your configurator adaptable to local markets, which might include swapping between units and currencies and adhering to regional preferences.

This functionality is a big step towards globalizing your product and making it friendly and usable for customers worldwide.

AI and ML features in product configurators

Intelligent product configurators offer smarter, more dynamic, and customer-centric experiences. Integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) in your sales process can help you increase average spend per customer and beat your direct competitors. 

Here’s how. 

AI algorithms analyze customer data and past interactions to offer tailored product recommendations. Consequently, these personalized suggestions boost the UX by showing customers options that are more likely to meet their needs and preferences.

Predictive analytics, powered by ML, can predict trends and customer behaviors based on historical data. This insight helps you anticipate market changes and customer requirements so you can proactively adjust your product offerings and configurators.

AI chatbots and assistance tools help in guiding customers through the configuration process, answering questions and providing information in real time. These tools automate your customer support and improve efficiency of your processes.

Moreover, ML algorithms continuously learn from customer interactions and feedback, improving the configurator’s performance over time. This way, you can keep your configurator up-to-date and effective in meeting changing customer needs.

Conclusion

For B2B cCommerce, product configurator software can bring you a huge competitive advantage. Equipped with the right features, these digital pre-sales tools put made-to-order products in your B2B clients’ fingerprints. By providing clear, detailed, and interactive options for customization, you can meet your customers expectations and win more business.

The benefits of employing interactive product configurators are clear: streamlined sales processes, higher conversion rates, reduced return rates, and an overall enhancement in customer satisfaction. Adding AI into the mix takes your sales configurator to a whole new level, offering even more personalized, efficient, and forward-thinking capabilities.

Moreover, integrating such configurators with your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system can further streamline operations, ensuring seamless data flow and enhanced operational efficiency.

Ready to discuss your eCommerce product configuration needs? We’re the experts you need. Contact us to find out how we can build a configurator for your products and services that’s tailored to your B2B business.

→ For further insight, we recommend reading: How to Choose the Right Product Configurator Software?