Emilia Dunaj
Emilia Dunaj
Head of Technology Insights
December 2023, 12 min. read

Your customers want to know if you have (or not) products that match their requirements in a few clicks. Traditionally, sifting through hundreds of products is overwhelming, often requiring hours of sales staff time to come back and provide responses.

The product selection software simplifies this process. This is especially relevant in B2B eCommerce, where product characteristics can be complex. The right tool can transform the traditional, time-consuming product selection method into a streamlined, user-friendly experience. 

Keep reading as we explore the huge benefits, key functionalities, and different industry applications of product selection software. You’ll also find out how you can use it to improve your customer service.

Understanding Product Selection Tool

The product selection tool, also known as eSelector, is specialized software. It’s designed to assist your customers and sales teams in selecting the right products based on specific criteria and needs.

While it does showcase products like a common digital brochure, it also includes some impressive features. These include search filters, product configuration tools, and performance calculations and simulations. Think of it as an eCatalog with sophisticated features and functionalities.

To illustrate how it works, consider a contractor who is selecting HVAC systems and solar panel installations for a new eco-friendly building. Choosing the right components involves more than just considering sizes and materials. The contractor must evaluate factors like performance, type, pressure, speed control, power, efficiency, and the specific application of each component.

This contractor uses the product selection tool to filter options based on energy efficiency, compatibility with green building standards, and cost. It includes solar panel selection, ensuring the building’s energy solutions are as efficient as possible. The software then suggests suitable products, along with performance simulations under different conditions. Additionally, it provides recommendations that help design the rest of the system.  

Without the tool? The product selection process would be long and difficult. The contractor could end up with items that don’t meet their building needs. In the worst-case scenario, this inefficiency might drive the contractor to look for solutions from competitors.

Product Selector vs. Product Configurator

Product selector and product configurator terms are sometimes used interchangeably. But they actually refer to two different types of tools. A selector is like a smart filter. It helps you find a product that meets your needs from a list of existing products. 

A product configurator allows users to build products and test their performance. This often involves performing calculations during configuration stages to tailor the product to expected values.

While both solutions can have overlapping features, a selector mainly chooses from what’s available. On the other hand, a configurator allows you to create and test a custom product.

Comparison table for product selection and product configuration tools

Here’s an application example illustrating the difference between product selectors and configurations for heat pumps:

AspectProduct selection tool for heat pumpsProduct configuration tool for heat pumps
PurposeThis tool helps customers in choosing the right heat pump from a range of available models. It’s particularly useful given the variety of heat pumps available in the market.This tool is designed for customers who need a more tailored solution, allowing them to customize a heat pump to their specific needs.
FunctionalityIt includes features like filters for capacity, energy efficiency ratings, and price range. A comparison feature allows customers to compare different models side-by-side based on their specifications and performance.Customers can choose various aspects of the heat pump, such as the type of refrigerant used, heating and cooling capacity, additional features like Wi-Fi connectivity or integrated dehumidifiers, and even aesthetic choices like the unit’s color or casing material.
Use caseFor example, a contractor looking to purchase a heat pump for their project can use the product selection tool to filter options based on the size of the building, the climate in their region, and the budget.A commercial building manager needing a heat pump system for a large, multi-story building could use the configuration tool to specify a higher capacity system, select advanced features for energy management, and ensure compatibility with existing building management systems.
GoalThe software helps the customer identify the most suitable heat pumps from existing models, ensuring they select a product that meets their heating and cooling needs, as well as their budget and energy efficiency desires.The aim here is to provide a bespoke solution where the customer can build a heat pump system that fits the specific requirements of their building or project, potentially involving more complex choices than those available in pre-built models.
Comparison table for product selection and product configuration tools

What Are Benefits of Product Selection Software?

For companies in specialized industries, such as industrial engineering, product selection software along with e-brochure becomes a necessity. It allows customers to filter through complex product specifications and standards, ensuring they find exactly what they need without the hassle. 

The right software makes choosing products easier and more efficient. Placing it on your website will impress your client base and streamline complex sales processes, especially in specialized fields. 

Let’s take a look at how your business can gain from this:

Easy self-service

The software enables your clients to have a self-service experience on an easy-to-use platform, minimizing the time your sales reps need to spend assisting them.  

Accurate matches

By automating the selection process, the product finder tool ensures customers receive products that precisely meet their needs.

Better customer service

The tool simplifies the process for both customers and sales engineers to quickly identify the right products for their projects.

Enhanced user experience (UX)

Offers an engaging and interactive environment. Makes product selection more enjoyable. 

Faster sales

With features like guided selling, intuitive interfaces, and clear visualizations, the software enables faster decision-making, leading to quicker sales.

More confident buying decisions

The tool empowers customers with all the necessary information and options at their fingertips, ensuring they feel more confident and satisfied with their choices.

Simplified pre-sales process

The product finder tool efficiently organizes the initial stages of customer engagement, fostering a better understanding of customer needs.

Opens new markets

Offering multilingual capabilities, this software caters to a wide range of customers and helps your business reach new markets.

Available 24/7

It’s available online all the time, which is handy for customers in various time zones.

By using smart algorithms and easy-to-use interfaces, this software saves time and makes sure your customers find exactly what they need. As digital sales become more common, it’s important to keep up, as Gartner predicts that by 2025, about 80% of B2B sales will happen online.

Key Features of Effective Product Selection Tool

Think of the product selector software as a skilled assistant that knows your inventory inside out. This assistant is smart and adaptable, able to serve any business, regardless of the products or customers you have. With the right set of features, this software can become an invaluable asset to your company. 

Now, let’s explore the essential features that elevate product selection software from a simple digital catalog to a highly efficient sales tool:

Extensive product information hub

product selection software
The best product selection software encompasses extensive product information
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An extensive and detailed product database is essential. Your e-catalog should encompass a comprehensive range of details on thousands of products, including specifications, technical data, CAD drawings, and supplementary images and videos, providing a rich and informative resource for customers.

Sizing and dimensioning tools

The product sizing feature accurately determines the appropriate size of specialized products, considering specific industry standards and project needs. Dimensioning tool allows for dynamic calculations of solution requirements, ensuring the products fit precisely within a specific space or configuration.

Advanced search filters

Configurators make calculations for sales agents

Advanced search filters are essential for a seamless user experience. This functionality allows customers to refine their search using various static and dynamic parameters, such as industry standards, performance needs, budget considerations, and many more. Multidimensional filtering feature simplifies the process of finding the right product in a vast database.

Complex calculations

Advanced algorithms can calculate various aspects of products, navigating the complexities of technical product specifications. Performance calculators and load/capacity calculators are great examples of such tools that ensure users select products that perform optimally in their intended application.

Real-time performance simulations

Real-time performance simulations in the eSelector tool offer dynamic insights
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Offering simulations based on using mathematical and physical algorithms can help predict how products will perform under various conditions. This handy performance calculator functionality helps in informed decision-making.

Compatibility checks

Compatibility checks in the product selector ensure seamless integration of chosen products
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Compatibility checks within the software ensure that selected products work well together. This functionality identifies and resolves potential product compatibility issues, guaranteeing seamless integration and functionality.

Product comparison

This feature enables comparing products with complex data sheets, helping customers weigh their options side by side. It simplifies decision-making, especially when choosing between products with nuanced differences.

The smart product recommender feature suggests complementary items
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The tool intelligently displays items that complement or are similar to the customer’s current selection. Customers can easily choose products for a complete system, ensuring they have everything they need for their specific project or requirement.

Exceptional UX

The best search and selection software focuses on outstanding UX, ensuring its design is intuitive and enjoyable to use. An engaging interface enhances user satisfaction and makes navigating complex product selections a smoother experience.

Multilingual support with unit conversion

The multilingual capabilities help reach more customers. Users can also switch between different units of measurement easily. This feature caters to an international customer base and various industry needs.

Branded elements

All your online tools should match your brand identity to enhance brand recognition and consistency. This feature allows for a cohesive brand experience, straightening your company’s identity and values.

User guide

A user guide simplifies the product selection process
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This feature assists users step-by-step in making recommendations based on their inputs and preferences. Guided customers feel supported and confident in their choices, enhancing their overall experience with your brand.

Integration

A custom-made product finder tool integrates with other digital systems
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The optional functionalities like printing, creating Bills of Materials (BOMs), sending quotes, and integration with eCommerce platforms help to streamline your sales and operational processes.

Automatic data updates

A robust online catalog needs the right data management system, like the PIM (Product Information Management). PIM acts as a single source of truth for product information, ensuring that what customers and sales staff see online is always accurate and up-to-date.

Examples of Product Selection Tools in Various Industries

Product selection software finds its application in many industries and business types. Here are some key examples:

Industrial products manufacturing

Our custom-developed arrester and valve selection tool has proven to be a game-changer in the industrial products manufacturing sector. A case study of one of our clients, a company in the industrial engineering sector, demonstrates how such a tool significantly optimized the pre-sales process. 

The software eliminates the need for clients to sift through hundreds of pages in a traditional product brochure. Users can now browse through an online product catalog to find what they need.

Additionally, they can use select and size features to locate specialized products based on project-specific requirements. The platform allows for a quick self-service experience. It also gives access to data that was previously only available to experienced engineers.

Other key features include dynamic calculations of solution requirements, interactive graphs, multilingual support, and unit conversions. Introducing our advanced software led to a marked improvement in customer experience (CX), expanded market reach, and a more streamlined, automated sales process.

→ Read more about this case study: Product Selection Tool for Flame Arresters

HVAC systems

In the HVAC industry, product, and material selection tools offer significant benefits. This is evident in a case study of a European ventilation equipment company. We created a custom HVAC system selection tool exclusively for this client. 

Our tool simplifies complex configuration processes for products such as fans, air handling, and heat recovery units. Additionally, it includes CFD calculation modules for added functionality.

The implementation of the fan selection tool and heat pump selection tool significantly improved the company’s sales process. This is another real-world example showcasing how technology can improve customer service and make operations more efficient in the HVAC sector and beyond.

Overall, this project involved creating a complete data management environment, online and offline product catalogs, and selection software for all product families.

→ We’ve explained this case study in the Online HVAC Product Selection Program article.

E-commerce platforms

A Canadian producer and distributor of industrial ventilation products recognized a growing demand for instant access to its product-related information. Right Information built a user-friendly e-commerce platform for this client. The platform was supported by a product information management system (PIM) and collaboration software to meet clients’ demands.

Key features included a complete data management environment, an integrated online and offline product catalog, and a product selection program with advanced filters and calculation tools. 

The new system provides efficient access to product information and streamlines the quotation process for sales teams. The solution boosts sales efficiency and improves the CX in e-commerce.

→ For more detailed information read the full case study: Ecommerce platform with PIM system  

How to Choose the Right Product Selection Tool?

Choosing the right digital sales solution for your business takes careful consideration of several factors. Just as you pick the perfect coffee machine for your office, you want one that’s easy to use and maintain, constantly makes great coffee, and doesn’t leave people frustrated.

Similarly, the software should have an intuitive interface that anyone can navigate easily, be reliable in matching the right products to customer needs, and ensure the process is smooth and satisfying, not confusing or irritating. Users need to effortlessly find and select products, and simplicity and clarity are key in this area.

Choose a software that’s flexible enough to align it with your clientele-specific needs and adhere to industry standards. Custom-developed product selection software can provide this, and additional benefits, such as bespoke features tailored to your unique business requirements. 

An important advantage of custom development is cost efficiency–you won’t have to pay for features your company doesn’t need. As a result, you get a solution that perfectly fits your business model, maximizing value and effectiveness.

Also, it’s important for all your systems to integrate seamlessly. Your online catalog should be in sync with other digital systems you currently use. This integration ensures a smooth workflow and keeps data consistent across all platforms.

Just like the right coffee machine keeps everyone happy and productive, the right software can make a big difference in customer satisfaction and your sales process. 

Conclusion

Investing in modern digital tools enhances your business’s customer-centric approach. Tools like a responsive online catalog with search and selection features effectively bring your products closer to the customers. With its smart technology and a friendly design, this software saves time and ensures customers find exactly what they need. 

Integrating such software allows you to stay ahead in your market niche, offering personalized, efficient, and accurate solutions. 

Ready to take your customer’s experience to the next level? Start transforming your business with Right Information to increase satisfaction and loyalty among your clients.