The 5 Keys of Customization with Professor Frank Piller

by / Wednesday, 21 October 2015 / Published in Blog, Configurators

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Professor Frank Piller, a professor of management at the Technology & Innovation Management Group at the School of Business & Economics of RWTH Aachen University in Germany, one of Europe’s leading institutes of technology. Professor Piller is a globally-recognized expert on the topic of mass customization, and he took time before flying to Montreal for the MCPC2015 conference to share some insights. We asked Professor Piller, “if you were consulting with a company that was going to begin offering custom products, what would be the five things they’d need to do in order to succeed?” Here’s what he had to say:

1) Focus on adding customer value! Customers are searching for the product or service that exactly meets their requirements and needs. Customization and personalization offer the ability to meet these demands, so look for opportunities to provide this added value to your customers and more fully address their demands.

2) Get your customizable options right. It’s less about unlimited options and more about offering exactly the options where customers want choice.

3) Customize your customization. Get a configurator that adapts automatically to different customer profiles and any background information you have about a customer.

4) Don’t underestimate the challenges of scalability. Delivering a few custom products is easy; fulfilling a high volume of custom orders in a limited time frame can be very hard. So prepare for the moment that CNN reports about your business: can your supply chain handle all these orders? While this sounds like a minor point, not getting this right has spelled death for quite a few mass customization initiatives.

5) View customization as a journey. Flexibility and the ability to rapidly adapt and change your product offerings are some of the key advantages of mass customization. Utilize them! Start simple, and add more options over time. Learn from every order. Analyze past configurations to better adjust your customizable options offerings. Experiment with different ways to communicate your value to customers. And remember not to think like a mass producer!

For more insights from Professor Piller, check out our executive briefing on the power of Match-to-Order personalization and follow him on Twitter @masscustom.