Have you ever left an online shop frustrated because you simply couldn't find the right product? The fridge that you were offered for your new kitchen in the online shop was either too wide or didn't have a freezer compartment? And you couldn't find a suitable color for the outer facade either, because it wasn't clear which one meets your requirements? Online shopping can be quite frustrating if you still haven't found what you're looking for despite a long search. In B2B, however, the question of size or color is not the biggest problem when choosing a product. In B2B, it is often necessary to integrate individual products into much more complex systems. A product configurator can help to make the search for the right product fun again.
What is a product configurator?
Product configurators are software with which products, but also services or systems, digitally and individually, according to the needs of the customer, are recommended and prepared for the purchase. Product configurators relieve the sales department in particular, but also the customer in the search for the right product. There are a few providers of such software around the world who have also mostly specialized in a certain market, from simple configurators for sports shoes to software solutions for the sale of highly complex systems in the construction or chemical industry.
What does a digital product configurator look like?
Product configurators help to make sales processes more effective and efficient, as well as to save time. First, an individual needs analysis is carried out, in which, for example, questions about the desired properties of the product and the technical requirements are asked. After the specifications and requirements of the product have been determined, algorithms help with the classification and selection in order to then play out suitable results.
An algorithm is a firmly defined and finite procedure with which a problem can be solved. It contains instructions that are followed step by step to achieve a specific goal. With regard to product configurators, this means that a proprietary algorithm tailored to the products specifies which products are recommended for the specific situation. This can also be used to put together entire systems that are very likely to be error-free. This only works if you take into account the fact that algorithms are only as intelligent as the step-by-step instructions that we give them.
This may seem complex at first, but it is not. Product configurators are convincing due to their user-friendliness and flexibility. In this way, complex and simple use cases can be mapped just as well. For example, the Deutsche Telekom with a Configurator for landline tariffs for their business customers and ifm offers their customers one on their website BOM configurator for the all-round protection of fan systems. (Product) knowledge is conveyed in a compact and customer-oriented manner, and a suitable solution is suggested quickly and easily.
The configurator relieves customers and sales staff
Product configurators take the strain off companies enormously because they map several processes in one: needs analysis, preparation of offers and purchase processing. A person with such software only needs a few minutes for this whole process. It used to take several hours and that for several people at the same time. So who are product configurators for? Especially in B2B, they help customers and interested parties with product research, generation of data sheets and the purchase process. Configurators are particularly in demand with planners and architects in the construction industry, because they are independent of service times and incorrect orders are less common thanks to the smart product recommendation. Sales are also greatly relieved, so more and more companies are using product configurator software for their own sales staff in the office and in the field.
What are the advantages of a product configurator?
B2B companies that work with a product configurator have a decisive competitive advantage: They simplify the product search enormously, which is particularly noticeable on the market for complex products. Further advantages are:
- Flexibility in use: Both simple products and highly complex systems can be compiled and recommended.
- Applicable without IT knowledge: You don't need your own IT department to set up a product configurator.
- Less bad purchases: The rate of incorrect orders is reduced.
- Fast reaction time: Sales can respond to inquiries in a significantly shorter time.
- Increase in customer satisfaction: Customers receive an individual, tailor-made product recommendation in the shortest possible time. This not only increases trust, but also customer satisfaction.
Experts assume that product configurators increase the efficiency of sales in B2B by 40 %. The maintenance of the product data also takes a little time. Since a product configurator is usually dynamic software, product data can be updated quickly and easily. Merely the one-time recording of the (product) knowledge means a short-term additional effort. Conclusion: Both sides, i.e. the customer and the company, save an enormous amount of time or can use it better.
For whom are configurators useful and how does a company find the right provider?
Product configurators are particularly interesting for B2B companies that sell products that require intensive advice or that sell a wide variety of products. Because B2B customers are now also asking for digital self-service solutions and individualized, tailor-made products. A product configurator can meet precisely these requirements. In addition, corresponding software solutions can be easily integrated into sales processes and also serve as a product knowledge management system.
When choosing a software provider, there are a few points to consider:
- Is it an agency service or software-as-a-service?
- In which systems (ERP, CRM, CSM, dealer shop etc.) can the software be integrated?
- Which interfaces are available?
- How is the set of rules structured?
- Can changes be made independently?
- How is the data saved and processed?
- How is the logic of the configurator structured?
There are currently only a few providers of product configurators on the market and the majority of them are agencies who promise individual solutions. In contrast to agency services, SaaS solutions (software as a service) offer flexibility, topicality and are more cost-effective - and above all, individually adaptable. When choosing, it is worth taking a look at references, because providers of SaaS solutions can also differ significantly, for example in terms of functionality. For a bicycle manufacturer, different properties and functions are important in exchange with its customers than for a building material manufacturer. The features and possibilities of the configurator vary depending on the customer base. At FoxBase, we count companies like Handle, knob, ifm or the Deutsche Telekom to our customers and have specialized in B2B companies with our SaaS solution. Here are some live examples for Product configuratorsbased on our software solution.