Product Customization: Keys to the User Kingdom
By Derek Schou, Associate Editor
Consumers, particularly on the Web, want it their way.
According to a Forrester study conducted in 2011, 35 percent of consumers indicated they are interested in products in which they can customize, modify and build-to-order to fit their specific needs - and that number has likely only grown since then.
From shoes to cars to sports jerseys, many brands are now offering consumers the ability to customize products. In this month's Small Biz Lab, get inspired by two companies offering product customization features to their users, and discover two solutions that are enabling brands to make it happen.
Product Customization in Action
Mini: Like many car manufacturers, Mini offers a variety of options and packages for all of its car models. One of the ways which Mini sets itself apart from its competition, however, is the sheer amount of options consumers have for each vehicle. For example, unlike other manufacturers, where options stop after sound system packages, exterior and interior color and whether or not to add a roof rack, potential Mini buyers are able to purchase checkered side mirror caps (versus the standard ones that match the car's exterior), a device that holds iPads to the back of front-seat headrests and much more. In fact, Mini claims there are more than 10 million possible combinations for its Mini Cooper Hardtop (see image).
M&M's: A favorite of many chocolate lovers, M&M's may always come in the same shape but what is printed on them, color and message alike, can be personalized through the MyMMs.com website, where consumers can customize the candies.
Through its interactive color-wheel feature, consumers are able to enlarge and view the different color suggestions, select up to three custom colors and even personalize their candies by uploading images from their desktop or selecting clip-art, as well as add short messages (such as for weddings or other events).
The final way consumers can customize their orders is through the packaging, which can take the form of a giant M&M, a heart-shaped gift box or other gifting options.
Setting Up Your Own Personalization
For brands that are interested in implementing product customization on their own website properties, there are several solutions on the market today (see more at wsm.co/customthis).
Shopify: One of the most powerful e-commerce platforms on the market, Shopify offers a wide array of apps for brands interested in product customization to leverage on their online store. One such app that the e-commerce platform offers is called Product Customizer. Through the app, brands are able to add a product customization interface to their websites, where consumers are able to add various lines of text and images to the product they are interested in. The app also enables consumers to save their creations so they can be accessed later.
WordPress: As the most popular content management system on the planet, used by more than 24 percent of all websites according to W3Techs, WordPress boasts numerous plugins that brands can use on their websites. The MyStyle plugin, for example, enables consumers to design their own graphics and patterns for a variety of products including mobile device cases as well as cars. Through MyStyle, users are able to upload their own photos, add customized text as well as visual effects like drop shadow and bevel.
While offering users the ability to customize their own products requires the right technology, the approach provides brands with more revenue opportunities by giving their potential customers the keys to the digital kingdom.