Emilia Dunaj
Emilia Dunaj
Head of Technology Insights
December 2023, 11 min. read

In many industries, products are rarely one-size-fits-all. As the range of product options expands, the complexity of managing these options also increases. But, at the same time, consumers want tailored products and a frictionless shopping experience. A product configurator tool is the answer to these modern demands. It revolutionizes your sales process by meeting and often exceeding customer expectations. 

But what is a product configurator? You’ll find your answer in this definitive guide, written by experts in the field.

In this post, we’ll unpack the many advantages and versatile applications of automated online product configurators. By the end, you’ll see why this application is exactly what you need for your business.

Product configurator definition

A product configurator is a software that allows customers to customize and visualize products according to their preferences, right down to the smallest details. It connects your customer desires to tangible products, ensuring that what your customers see is what they get. 

As an example, take a car configurator. When a customer selects a car model, they can personalize features such as color, engine type, and any additional options you let them. 

product configuration process

Advanced elements include dependent options that change based on previous choices and 3D visualizations for a realistic preview. The software dynamically updates the visual and pricing as users make choices. Ultimately, this tool translates customer preferences into a customized final product.

What is the use of a product configurator?

Consumers today need (and love!) to customize things, and companies are catching on. B2C consumers crave unique products that reflect their individuality, while B2D and B2B customers seek solutions tailored to their specific operational needs. To meet the mass customization demand, manufacturers are turning to digital tools like product configurators. 

A configurator transforms passive browsing into an engaging, interactive experience, making each click a step closer to the ideal product. For your businesses, this tool means quicker sales cycles, standardized processes, and a reduced number of errors, reflecting the professionalism of your brand.

When to consider using custom product configurator software?

Custom product configurator software will be especially relevant for businesses that sell complex or advanced products. The complexity of a product is determined by various factors. It can include the number of features, configurations, and layers of customization available, as well as choices in colors, sizes, and materials. High complexity can make the sales process time-consuming, lengthy, and overwhelming. 

Moreover, one mistake in the configuration process can lead to significant costs in production. This could mean manufacturing a product that doesn’t meet the customer’s requirements, resulting in both financial loss and customer dissatisfaction.

Industries such as manufacturing, automotive, HVAC, and insurance often deal with products that have numerous customizable options. A product configurator is a perfect fit for these types of offerings, as it simplifies the customization process for both the business and the customer.

Product configurator tool features

At its core, a product configurator provides a user-friendly interface, self-service customer experience, real-time visualization, and accurate product information display. These basic functions are the building blocks that make the solution effective and reliable. 

For more complex product inventories, a customized product configurator can offer the following functions:

  • Guided selling
  • Automated quotation
  • Configuration management
  • Dynamic performance calculations
  • Interactive product visualizations 
  • Inventory tracking
  • Bill of material (BOM) generation
  • 2D drawing
  • IT system and eCommerce integration
  • Product Data Management
  • Multi-language support
  • Pricing and cost calculations

These advanced features elevate your product configuration software from a basic customization tool to a robust, multi-functional digital sales solution that can adapt to your specific industry challenges.

→ Learn more: Key Product Sales Configurator Features for B2B eCommerce

9 Benefits of product configurators

The power of customization is undeniable, with consumers willing to pay top dollar for it. But, the advantages of employing a product configurator tool go beyond mere customization. These tools are highly versatile solutions applicable across a broad range of industries, solving a multitude of business problems.

Let’s delve into what makes this technology indispensable.

1. Handle complex products with ease

Complex products often come with a myriad of options that can be overwhelming for customers. A product customizer tool simplifies this. It offers a streamlined interface where customers can easily navigate through various features and options. In effect, this reduces the likelihood of errors and misunderstandings.

On the backend, this app is a boon for your sales and customer service teams. It can manage a multitude of product combinations. Hence, your staff can focus on building relationships and closing deals rather than getting bogged down by the complexities of product configurations.

complex product configuration process

2. Provide a 360-degree view

Visual engagement is crucial in online shopping. Customers want to see what they’re getting, and a simple image gallery often falls short. A 360-degree view feature in a product configurator tool takes the visual experience to the next level. It lets customers rotate the product, zoom in on details, and truly understand what they’re purchasing.

For many companies, this 3D feature can significantly reduce the rate of returns. When customers have a comprehensive understanding of what they’re buying, they’re less likely to be dissatisfied with the product once it arrives. 

→ Read also: 2D vs 3D Product Configurator: What To Choose for Your Product Customization?

3. Automate the purchasing process

Automation in a product configurator tool means quicker responses for customers. Buyers can receive instant quotes and immediate confirmations. Consequently, this enhances their overall shopping experience and reduces the time from selection to purchase.

At the same time, automating the sales process minimizes manual errors and accelerates the sales cycle. It streamlines workflows, allowing your sales team to engage more effectively with potential high-value clients.

purchasing process automation

4. Free up your agents

With configurator software handling basic queries and guiding through the selection process, customers can get quick and accurate answers without waiting for agent availability.

Automating routine tasks and providing customers with a self-service experience means your staff has more time to handle more important tasks. Their efficiency improves, and so does their job satisfaction.

5. The customers get what they want

A rule-based product configurator ensures that customers choose exactly what they want from your available assortment. The app’s intuitive design makes customization easy and enjoyable.

Personalized experiences matter hugely: about 76% of customers say personalization is key when they think about brands, and 78% say it makes them more likely to buy again. Happy customers, who get exactly what they want, often come back, boosting customer loyalty and your profits.

6. Engage and educate customers throughout the purchasing process

You can customize your configurator to educate your customers and make the sales experience more engaging. Features like real-time previews, interactive graphs, and 3D visualizations capture customer interest and make the process interactive. 

Custom-built configurators feature interactive graphs

The app also provides useful information about each accessory, helping users make informed decisions. Educated customers are more likely to become brand advocates, spreading positive word-of-mouth and contributing to long-term business growth.

7. Saving and sharing configurations

Customers can print or save their configurations for future reference or share them with the decision-makers. The saved information provides valuable data insights into customer preferences. 

Tailor-designed Product Customizers allow for saving and sharing configurations

Your system can store the configurations for easy retrieval. This feature is particularly useful when a customer contacts your sales team or visits in person. Armed with this data, your sales reps can offer more personalized and efficient service. They can also leverage the information for cross-selling and up-selling opportunities, further tailoring future offerings and refining marketing strategies.

8. Easy third-party integration

Custom-designed product configurator tools can easily integrate with other business systems like CRM, ERP, and your quoting system. This creates a seamless flow of information, improving operational efficiency. The integration also allows for real-time updates across platforms. This ensures that your sales, inventory, and customer data are always in sync.

9. Transparent pricing

Transparency is key to building trust. A product configuration software displays real-time pricing changes based on selected options, eliminating hidden costs and surprises. Undeniably, this clarity in pricing fosters customer trust and streamlines the sales process.

product configuration software pricing

The software can automatically apply special discounts and ensure that pricing is consistent for staff across different branches and departments. As a result, customers are more likely to buy, and your team operates with uniform information.

Types of product configurations

Product configurators come in various forms to suit different business models. 

Say your company manufactures customizable lighting solutions. For basic options, a select-to-order configurator might let your customers pick an existing light fixture and choose different colors or finishes. In a more complex configure-to-order scenario, your customers could select different bulb types, fixture designs, and light intensities. 

For unique projects, like designing lighting for specific architectural styles, an engineer-to-order configurator steps in. This type of configuration enables detailed customizations like specific lighting look, placement, and smart system integration.

→ Learn more: Explaining Product Configuration Types for Different Market Approaches

Product configuration engine layers

Product configurators operate on different layers. Each layer offers unique functionalities. The visual layer boosts user experience with real-time, graphical representations of user’s selections. It offers a more intuitive and engaging customization process. 

The rule-based layer applies predefined configuration rules to guide user choices, ensuring feasible and compatible configurations. In the knowledge-based layer, complex algorithms and data analytics drive decision-making, accommodating more intricate customization needs.

These layers, either standalone or combined, form the structure of a configurator. Depending on your product range and customer needs, software experts will be able to advise you which ones are best for your needs.

→ Read also: How To Build a Product Configurator: Everything You Need To Know

Industry uses of product configurators

The true strength of a product customization tool lies in its adaptability. Each industry can tailor the configurator to meet its unique needs, making it a versatile solution for businesses of all types. 

Being that, here are some key industries where the solution is making a significant impact.

Automotive

Vehicle configurators offer an interactive way to build and personalize cars. These tools can manage a wide range of options, from selecting a car’s color, engine type, and upholstery to accessories. Car customizers can apply predefined discounts and educate users on all product range offerings. 

Check our Advanced Car Configurator case study to learn about how our software has transformed the sales force for a brand in the automotive industry.

Manufacturing

In manufacturing, the configuration solution can handle complex product lines and configurations. This capability reduces the margin for error and increases operational efficiency. Instead of relying on bulky printed product catalogs, your customers and staff can use product configurators to access real-time information and make more informed decisions.

HVAC

For HVAC systems, a custom-built configurator can assist in selecting the right components and specifications. This ensures that customers get solutions tailored to meet their needs. A rule-based product configurator can perform critical calculations while adhering to industry standards, providing an extra layer of reliability and compliance.

Insurance

In the insurance industry, the tool can help customers and agents navigate through various policy options, making it easier to find a package that suits their specific requirements. Additionally, configurators can perform instant calculations to present unique and personalized product offerings based on different attributes, such as age, location, or coverage needs.

eCommerce

If your platform specializes in made-to-order or configurable products, a product configurator can simplify the entire sales process. The users can play with different personalization options and see how the changes affect pricing. Integrating a web-based product configurator tool with your e-commerce helps to reduce churn rates and boost customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

By adapting the solution to the specific needs and challenges of each industry, businesses can offer a more personalized, efficient, and satisfying sales experience for both customers and staff. The adaptability of a custom-made software solution makes it a strategic asset that can drive business success across various sectors.

More effective sales team with rule-based product configurator

Now you know that a website product configurator is so much more than ensuring accurate orders. It’s about eliminating costly errors that could disturb production and stain CX. If you want to give your customers the personalized experience they expect while also streamlining your operations, rules-based product configurator software is vital. 

To summarize, a well-designed configurator can be a powerful ally for your sales team. It can handle routine tasks, allowing your agents to focus on building relationships and closing deals. From simplifying complex product lines to automating the sales process, this versatile software enhances customer engagement and boosts operational efficiency. It ultimately drives sales by allowing customers to configure complex products using intuitive features.

The next step

Staying ahead of the competition requires innovative solutions. Thus, introducing a custom-built product configurator in your business can be a game-changing move. Take the first step towards revolutionizing your business today. 

If you want to learn more about the advanced product configurators that Right Information designed, developed, and implemented for business clients, check out our portfolio page.

→ Read also: How to Choose the Right Product Configurator Software

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. Are there other names for a product configurator?
    Depending on the application, a product configurator can also be referred to as a variation configurator, configurator software, product customizer, offer configurator, product configuration software, CPQ software, and ERP configurator. These terms are often interchangeable but may offer different features based on the specific use case or functionality they target.
  2. What are advanced configurator examples?
    Advanced configurator examples include rule-based product configurators that can perform complex calculations and adhere to industry-specific standards. Others offer real-time 3D visualizations, guided selling, and seamless integration with CRM and ERP systems. These advanced features offer a more comprehensive solution for complex product lines and business operations.
  3. What is a configurator in manufacturing?
    In the manufacturing process, a product configurator tool is designed to simplify the customization and ordering process for even the most complex, made-to-order products. It enables a self-service experience, allowing customers to choose from various product features, components, and specifications. These levels of customization adhere to predefined rules and constraints, ensuring that the final product meets both the customer’s needs and manufacturing requirements.

    The configurator automates the complex calculations needed for pricing and compatibility, streamlining the sales process and reducing the margin for error. It serves as a trusted source of information, unifying product data across the sales network and leveraging sales operations.
  4. What is CPQ software?
    CPQ stands for Configure, Price, Quote. CPQ solution is a type of product configurator specifically designed to help businesses generate accurate quotes for configurable goods and services, thereby automating the sales process. The software is designed to calculate prices using the specific configurations chosen by the customer rather than relying on static price sheets. This allows for dynamic pricing that can be as advanced and intricate as the business requires.

    Configure Price Quote software is particularly beneficial in B2B scenarios. This is an area where the product or service configurations can have billions of potential combinations.
  5. How does a product configurator work?
    It simply enables users to configure products by applying a set of predefined rules and constraints, ensuring that the customizations are both feasible and accurate.

    As users make choices, the configurator continuously checks these against a set of rules to determine what’s possible and how much it will cost. This ensures that problematic or impossible orders are disallowed. The configurator can handle complex scenarios with potentially millions of possible combinations. This makes it an irreplaceable solution for businesses that offer highly customizable products or services.

    The web tool uses rule-based algorithms to ensure that the configurations are feasible. As a result, it offers a self-service experience that streamlines sales process automation.
  6. How to choose a product configurator development company?
    When choosing a product configurator development company, look for expertise in master data management and a portfolio that demonstrates experience. Ensure the company can offer features like sales process automation and integration with your existing systems.
  7. What are the possible applications of a product configurator?
    A product customizer has diverse applications across various sectors. Industries like, for example, manufacturing, HVAC, automotive, and insurance use it for everything from customizing consumer goods in an online store to handling complex configurations. Its capabilities extend to master data management and serve as a trusted source of information.