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How to Choose the Right Configurator Software for Your Business

05 may 2021

How to Choose the Right Configurator Software for Your Business

Customized products are quickly becoming the norm, and customers are getting used to being offered the chance to tailor brand offerings to their hearts’ content. In the near future, businesses that forego this option risk losing both revenue and consumer loyalty. 

The good news is that it’s getting easier to meet this rising expectation. With the rise of cloud technology and more advanced software automation, companies can quickly and easily handle the delivery of even sophisticated customization options. 

The right configurator software streamlines sales and production processes while creating an awesome buying experience for customers that exceeds their expectations. 

Here’s everything you need to know about configurator software and how to choose the right one for your business.

Online Configurator Software: 3D, Automation, and Other Features You Need

A product configurator, or configuration software, is a solution that makes it easier to offer customization options to customers. It’s usually a part of a broader CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) solution, but it doesn’t have to be. 

With a product configurator, customers can “play around” with different options to customize their purchases. We’ve seen them used for:

  • Selecting colors and materials for made-to-order products.
  • Curating collections of products, such as a suit with matching accessories.
  • Switching out components, like with a custom set of tools.
  • Part picking for things including custom machinery.

Product configurator software accomplishes all that and more by harnessing many Industry 4.0 technologies such as smart devices and machine learning. 

However, even if you don’t need capabilities that advanced, all solid configurators possess these five key traits:

1. Powerful Visualization Capabilities

There’s a reason that brick-and-mortar stores go through so much trouble to create eye-catching displays: Our brains are evolved to process visuals faster than any other sense. Whatever attracts our eye attracts our attention and the tantalizations of our other senses.

On the internet, however, shoppers have only visual stimuli with which to judge a product. That makes 2D and 3D configurators powerful differentiators from brands using only photos to showcase their products.

Imagine looking at an image of a shoe versus being able to rotate the shoe digitally and view it from every angle. Which option would you be more likely to pick?

2. Integration With Your Business System

The best configurator software out there is only as good as its ability to integrate with your existing business systems. Whether that’s a CRM like Salesforce or an ERP that you use, make sure that your configurator can connect with, draw from, and send data to the rest of your business.

3. Complex Rules and Logic Support

A rules engine that makes sure only valid combinations get configured is one of the most important elements of a configurator. After all, you don’t want customers configuring products that are literally impossible to build!

Rules and logic support should include much more than simply basic filtering or custom code for you to throw in whatever combinations you can think up. Take a good look at what the rules engine can do and see if it can:

  • Support advanced algorithms.
  • Dynamically adjust options based on previous selections.
  • Perform calculations for part dimensions.
  • Handle variables and unknowns.

4. Automation for Rote Tasks

In a broader study on business automation, McKinsey once found that at least 50 percent of office activities could be automated. Most of it involved rote activities like filing or moving information between multiple systems.

Product configuration is exciting from the customer’s perspective, but for your sales team, it means repetitive tasks like checking configurations, double-checking specs, and entering data into the computer. Try automating some of it with the help of configurator software and let a machine do the hard work.

5. Omnichannel Support

Omnichannel means that you can connect with customers through multiple means and channels. It means that you can meet your customer where they are, on their preferred device or platform. 

A good configurator will support compatibility for any device, as well as both external and internal accessibility. Whether accessing it through a tablet on the sales floor or a laptop at home, customers will enjoy the same awesome buying experience they expect.

5 Questions to Ask to Determine the Best Product Configurator Software

So, you’ve decided that product configurator software is right for your business. That’s great!

Welcome to the club of businesses that are winning at the customer experience.

However, not all product configurators are created equal. Before browsing your options, make sure you’ve got a handle on the answers to these five questions.

1. Where Does My Sales Team Get Stuck?

Are your sales reps still consulting arcane-looking Excel sheets? Do they constantly play phone tag with customers or spend time researching updated specs? If so, you need configuration software for your office immediately.

Pro-tip: If your sales team seems to get bottlenecked at stages like quote approval, you may want to look into a full-blown CPQ solution instead of simply a product configurator.

2. Who Will Be Using It?

Consider who’s going to be working with it. Your sales reps, engineers, and customers all have different capabilities. Spend some time investigating the interfaces that each option offers. You may prefer (or need) an intuitive, easy-to-use interface with a lower learning curve if your team isn’t stocked with experts possessing technical skills. 

Live demos can prove tremendously helpful in this regard. If you’re able to demo at least a couple before deciding, you’ll have a better sense of what you need or want to work with.

3. What Do I Need It To Do?

Different configuration software can do different things. Some are straightforward, with barebones options, while others let users configure products as complex as heavy machinery. Consider whether you need to:

  • Render 3D visuals, or if 2D images will be enough.
  • Support user-generated content for personalized products.
  • Pull product information from another system in your business.
  • Integrate with APIs to additional functionalities.

4. Can It Support Our Current Pricing Strategy?

After visualization, dynamic pricing is one of the more critical abilities that a configurator can offer. It should be able to update prices in real time as the user selects or deselects different options. 

However, complex configuration options can come with complex pricing. Make sure that your chosen configurator can handle a variety of pricing schemes, including those based on:

  • Cost
  • Demand
  • Value
  • Time
  • Penetration
  • Competitors

5. Is It Overpowered or Underpowered for My Purposes?

Many of the leading configurators out there have all sorts of bells and whistles on both the front end and the back end. While that’s great if you’ve got a robust customization or personalization program, it can also overwhelm your customers or team.

Feature-rich software gives your team the ability to offer new things in the future, but definitely balance this with usability. A good way to do so is to look for software or services that can scale either through integrations or subscriptions.

Bottom Line: Configurable Doesn’t Need to Mean Complicated

With more and more customers expecting to customize products, many companies are turning to configurator software to keep the process streamlined. This brings many advantages, such as next-level visualization and automation support for your sales team. 

However, with so many offerings on the market today, it can be hard to pick a solution. That’s why we’ve covered five features that all good configurators have in common, plus five questions to ask before you start shopping.

Product configurator software can provide complex customization options without being complex to use. In fact, the best solutions are as easy as they are powerful.