A product configurator: what’s the catch?

A product configurator or customizer allows customers to configure a product the way they want. Some of the tools include only limited options to choose from color, material, or flavor, while others have very complex logic behind. There are some businesses, which have no other choice but to use customizer to present either high-end or sophisticated product combinations they create. Often times, companies just want to embed this kind of solutions in their sites to offer better customer experience to those shoppers who are into tailoring their purchases to specific needs while they fulfill their innate thirst for creativity and get involved emotionally.

Who is successfully using it?

According to Bain’s survey customers who designed their own shoes gave companies 50% higher Net Promoter Score (a standard way to measure customer loyalty) than those shoppers that purchased regular products – it’s totally understandable. Just look how much fun it is to create your own pair of shoes on Nike’s site. Even waiting 3-5 weeks for a pair of made-to-order sneakers does not stop customers from playing with colors and materials designing their unique footwear.

Product customizer Nike

Nike’s product configurator is one of the best and most advanced implementations in the web we have seen so far. Clean and easy to understand, Nike’s customization tool uses dynamic imaging: each time you select or change options, the product picture changes according to your choice. In addition, this customizer by Nike is built on Magento, so it makes it even more appealing to our team of Magento developers.

One more fascinating example of product customizers on Magento is the site of My own bike. It does not only enable customers to configure a bike to the extent they want and select parts to be installed but also recalculates the price of the product on the go.

Customizer. My own bike

To wind up with product customizers show, we want you to have a look at popcorn tin customizer created by our team. Here, customers can configure the tin by such parameters as tin design and desired fill. Easy to use, this tool allows customers play with the options and see bigger picture visualizing the end result.

Popcorn tin customizer

How to implement configurators using Magento concept?

And now let’s look at the ways product configurators can be implemented within Magento concept and what options the process may include. Basically, a product customizer is nothing but a product with different options and, sometimes, a bunch of other bonuses in the box. Imagine you plan to sell custom-tailored present baskets that can be configured by shoppers. This basket is supposed to include just regular products from your catalog. To build a basket customizer you can use default grouped or bundled Magento product types. Which one to select depends on the outcome you plan to have in the end. Keep in mind: bundle products allow more complex combinations and unlike the grouped product whose children are shown at the checkout as various simple products, in quotes in orders bundles are represented by both parent and child items.

Possible implementation scenarios:

  • Bundle or Grouped Magento default product.
  • Simple product + Custom options.
  • Configurable product + Customization.
  • Bundle product + Customization.
  • Custom product creation.

Of course, the number of scenarios is not limited only to these five we’ve mentioned.

What to do if you plan to allow your customers not only add those simple products but also offer them several other options on top? For example, you want to include a tea package into the basket but you have the packages of different sizes and want all of them to be seen by customers. Here, you have more than just one single approach to implement the solution: use any of the product types mentioned above or a configurable product. In any case, default product should be programmatically customized by a development team. Another option is to let them create a completely new product type. What you finally choose depends on your business model and expectations you have about the product creation workflow.

If you are not really well-versed with the functions products configurators may include, look at the following list: it may be a good starting point for you.

With product customizer you are able to:

  • Show all possible product variations.
  • Change colors, patterns, and designs (dynamic visualization) etc.
  • Add logos and text.
  • Automate calculations related to measurements, weight, voltage/wattage, shipping, packaging, pricing, and other dimensions as specified by client.
  • Allow your customers to add or save custom-configured product to wish list or saved products list for future re-ordering.
  • Allow customers send the result to their emails.
  • Allow your customers to share products created with others.
  • Allow customers to customize and design the final product using the attributes defined in Magento admin etc.

Building product configurator is a pretty challenging thing that needs some consideration before you kick off:

1. Think over the workflow: how a product will be created on the frontend, what behavior you expect in the admin area, in what way the created products should be displayed in the admin area, and how the product will look like on checkout etc. If you have no idea where to start, talk to your Magento developer: you will definitely get some help and his valuable suggestions.

2. Try to make the product customizer as simple as possible. It’s also important to keep the workflow moving in a linear fashion and provide a progress bar to show consumers how close they are to the completion point.

3. Include “Help” icon. You think you’ve built an intuitive and easy to use product customizer? Bear in mind that there will always be somebody who will need some assistance with understanding it. Give your customers a helping hand and put your business ahead of the curve.

4. Include a persistent and clearly positioned summary so that consumers can track their customizations and see how it affects pricing without worrying that their unique design will be too costly.

Our guidance wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t tell you about some ready-made extensions available on the market that offer product customization features we spoke about. We usually build our own product customizers since in most cases it makes more sense to create them from scratch than changing already available extensions to meet customers’ requirements. Still, we do our best to always be up-to-date and inform you about the solutions from other 3rd party providers that we can potentially use in our projects. Check out what we have discovered recently:

JustSelling

Cloud-based application that helps online retailers showcase or sell their complex products. JustSelling offers an opportunity to perform price calcs, define dependencies, rules, or add graphical representation of products as well as use a handful of other personalization options. Depending on your budget, JustSelling has several price floors to choose from allowing you to go for as low as 35 EUR per month for its basic package. If you feel like going for a more complex business solution, then try out either Ultimate package for 150EUR a month or Enterprise features offered on demand.

Ikan jewellery configurator

If you deal with jewelry and diamonds, this customizer is the catch. Ikan allows clients to design their own piece of jewelry. For example, if they want to buy a ring for engagement or wedding, they have to choose a particular size and metal the ring is made of. The same can be applied to diamonds that have variety of colors, clarity scale, and shapes etc. Surprise your customers with a handful of options to play with.

Product customizer by DCKAP

DCKAP product customizer is also a good tool to enable your customers to create their own products: add images, their own text, select colours from the predefined palette etc. It is easy to understand, has well-tailored functionality, and allows customers to alternate any of the attributes and immediately see how it will look depending on what they change. Bottom line: if you want to create exclusive products that will make your customers come back for more, using a product customizer is a winning card for you. Whether you opt for already existing solution or decide to create your own tool, it depends on your specific business needs.

Bottom line: if you want to create exclusive products that will make your customers come back for more, using a product customizer is a winning card for you. Whether you opt for already existing solution or decide to create your own tool, it depends on your specific business needs.