Top product customization challenges and ways to overcome them
Can you imagine there was a time when customers were not the center of focus for the companies? They paid all their attention and invested their resources unthinkably on the product and technology without having a clear understanding of the customer needs and the trends. Meaning, even after big investment, companies were at potential risk of failing miserably.
Soon after the beginning of the last decade, people in various industries realized they are generating tons and tons of data online that can be used to predict customer behavior. It helped them statistically predict the trends, and one after the other companies started shifting their attention from product to customers.
This is the beginning of a new era. Personalization drives business and helps companies target their products and services to different user archetypes. All thanks to data, today we are able to predict what a customer would like in a product, but is that sort of product customization easy?
As a matter of fact, industries such as web to print too, which is driven by customization, are not left off from the potential risks of mass customization failure and other challenges of customization. Customization requires any industry, be it web to print or else to keep a close eye on the changing needs of every individual. As impossible as it sounds, it can be achieved through managing the operations the right way.
Common challenges of customization of a product
Challenged by the organizational structure
Have you ever wondered why some companies start small and make it big? And some companies, even after starting big end ups on the ground? It is mostly because of loopholes found in the system.
The organizational structure and management incentives can be a huge discouragement for the sales and marketing team. Meanwhile, the marketing team focuses on the lead generation process, the other members of the organization have no proper information of the individual needs of the lead. The scanty communication and no access to the data can let you down. You need a web to print software that allows you to provide remote access to your team. This would increase their productivity and would further help increase your conversion rate.
Without, this you can be selling unique products to fit the needs of different uses, but your team would not be able to fulfill the needs of the customer; and retain them.
Challenges in the product journey and complexity drivers
Web to print storefronts help people to customize their products through available online tools. But meanwhile, we are sure you have done a great job providing them a huge variety of solutions. Have you ever wondered people might have a longer learning curve on we
Internet is not new, but the technologies are ever-evolving. People are still learning their way with web applications and using tools to perform tasks on the sites. Since software too would serve the same purpose, it is important to test if the users are finding any difficulty understanding or using some of the tools. If so, go for redesigning.
Also, without having a clear goal in your mind, you cannot make a product useful for the customers and successful in the market. It also puts immense pressure on the sales team, which is under constant to pressure to sell the stock. This hinders their productivity and also doesn’t do any good to your sales numbers.
Product customization needs should be driven by factors such as the need of the market, innovation, the value you provide to the customers, and the niche market the product is targeted to. These are the factors that are important for customization ina product.
Mass production and design thinking
Mass production customization is much more difficult than providing customization in products with a small consumer group. The first step towards ensuring the product’s success is assembling the customer specification. Customization is largely focused on the need of customers; if you understand your customers well, you can achieve the goal easily.
Design products and analyze the efficiency of the solution. Have parameters set to know if the product is achieving the goals or not? It is important to test the product by keeping the activities of the users in mind. Consider all the factors that can hinder the customer experience, and then make the improvements in the designs.
High risk of mass customization failure
Scalability is one of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs today. The tools and technologies needed to achieve mass customization at low cost are not accessible easily. Government initiatives to promote startups have come to a rescue, but it would take a lot of time to cover the large mass.
Next, there are no specialized infrastructures that offer access to all the capabilities of mass customization. Then there is a need for specialized suppliers, supply chain partners, and accessibility of complete fulfillment solutions in all categories, i.e., instant access to robust processes.
One of the most common reasons for the failure of a startup in the bootstrapping phase is they lack the knowledge or either the capabilities to scale their business. This includes infrastructure, investment, investment policies, lack of insights, and also a very poor business model.
Challenges of customization lie at every step. Additionally, mass customization requires in-depth knowledge of your industry and management skills. Management skills are one of the three most fundamental capabilities required for mass customization. It hedges you from undercapitalization and over-estimating the market demands and customer needs. Management skills are the most important of customization in product skillsets.
How to overcome the common challenges in product customization
Implementing customization is a proven challenge for established companies. Companies like John Deere, the world’s largest manufacturers of garden equipment and agriculture tools, had found it hard to keep up with the changing landscape of the market with the intervention of technology and the fragmentations found in the market to meet the customization goals.
Especially in the garden equipment division of the brand, they had more products to offer, but the sales only picked up for a few common tools. The company kept on building tools without talking to the divisional managers that could have intimated the company of all the millions of dollars getting wasted.
For more than a decade, this put John Deere in a difficult position until they re-aligned the solution space to the customer base and added more flexibility to the value chain.
From time and time again, many companies have replicated this mistake; some even had to stop their operations. Here are few things you must always keep in mind while mass customizing for an established company to not end up on the wrong side of the situation.
Mass producers keep their focus of the marketing groups on not just the differences but also on the identifiable needs of the customers. Traditionally marketers lack the appropriate knowledge to spot an opportunity in the wide market. But with proper training and improved understanding of the entire process, soon they become more responsive to the changing trends and become more active in the growth of the business.
The marketing team is no longer just about advertising and promoting a product. The online platforms help you gauge the piquing of the new trends and the inclination of the customer groups towards them. This ability help them inform the management, sales, development team to discuss what can be incorporated into the company’s offerings. A few things you must not rely on highly are:
- depending on the product differentiation criteria
- differentiating attributes introduced by the competitors.
Don’t deter your focus from the customers; the only thing that helps you exploit the new market opportunity is the sheer value you generate in your user’s life.
Product development is a big part of mass production. However, it is important to minimize the variable cost of the newly developed components. Data interpretation can help you in responding to the ever-changing costs of raw materials.
Also, think smart and go for the designs where a single product can be put to use in multiple processes in the solution space. The smart design would also leave your customers awe-struck.
Upgrading to the newer and efficient accounting procedures is necessary as a company needs to find a precise cost of expanding their product offerings. Failing to which is going to leave them highly at a disadvantage in the harsh business scenario. Sometimes the cost even spirals out, and you can face major delays in production. It is necessary to shift to ML and AI technologies to closely predict the price landscape.
Value chain constraints
The value chain is the set of activities that helps in the operation of a specific industry. It also helps in delivering a valuable product for the market.
It is necessary to reconfigure the value chain, given the varying product mix. It helps you in scaling up your production with potential risks of overhead expenses and failure of the product entirely in the market.
Existing corporate purchase policies, supplier agreements, external structural constraints with the distribution channels can pose a challenge. By reconfiguring your value chain, you can conquer these challenges easily and adapt to the new processes.
Hope you enjoyed the blog and are all set to conquer your product customization challenges with robust strategies. In the blog, we have tried to mention all the aspects of product customization, and we have not specifically focused on any singular industry. Depending on the industry, type of customer base, you can modify the solutions mentioned and get ready to take the reigns of product customization in your hand with the corporation of different teams in your organization.
We at WTPBiz, have experienced and skilled Web-to-print experts. Our experts dedicatedly work on developing the latest and robust software solutions to cater to your needs as per your print business requirements. For more details contact us and talk to our experts.