Choosing the Right Product Configurator: A Guide to Boosting Sales

Developing digital tools can be a daunting initiative, but working with the right partner can make all the difference. WCS Web Configurator Studio strives to streamline things every step of the way – and that includes the development process. But before any development work takes place, there are some key things to know and plan for before you invest.

What are your goals for the configurator?

Answering these first two questions is essential to determining what type of product configurator you need for your business. 

  • Are you looking to improve your customer experience? 

Simple visualization configurators give customers, designers, and specifiers the option to personalize their product design by selecting colors, sizes, materials, or other product features. This option does not typically integrate with your back-office systems, and only provides list pricing. 

  • Are you looking to improve your customer experience AND streamline a complicated selling process? 

Enhanced product configurators enable customers and designers to configure products, view in 3D, and apply COM /COL material options. In addition, a 3D CPQ Product Configurator empowers sales and customer support teams to quickly generate quotes for a single or multiple products, and applies rules-based discounting, shipping, and terms and conditions specific to the individual customer. These configurators typically integrate with a manufacturers ERP, CRM, PIM, and other back-office systems to ensure only viable products are configured, quotes are specific to the customer shipping and payment terms and conditions and streamline the quote to order process significantly. 

What are your systems integration needs?

A key pain point for contract furniture manufacturers is maintaining data consistency across their back-office and design software systems: ERP, CRM, CET, CIZA, CAD, etc. Considering how the configurator will integrate with your source of truth and connect with internal and external systems and applications is key in determining what you need, and what to plan for and build in the configurator. 

How flexible and scalable do you want the tool to be?

Equally important to planning for what you want and need today is anticipating how you want your configurator to accommodate future growth and changes in your business. A well-designed product configurator allows for simple addition of new products or product features, accommodates changes in discounting and promotions, and handles increased traffic seamlessly. In addition, scalable configurators are equipped to support specifying custom product features and fabric options. It is more cost effective and efficient to plan for future needs during the discovery and design stage, than going back post-launch and implementing major modifications. 

What are your budget and return-on-investment expectations?

  • Understand both pre- and post-development and deployment costs. 

The upfront costs associated with development and deployment are typically estimated and quoted prior to any work starting. Depending on your development partner, you may receive a total project estimate, or per-hour estimate. The good news is that product configurator development can be financed, enabling manufacturers to lock in monthly rates and terms they can afford and plan for.  

Post-development maintenance and support contracts should be available through your development partner, allowing for debugging, product and feature additions, and other overall enhancements.

  • Calculating your ROI on a product configurator goes deeper than the tool itself.

When pitching any capital investment to upper management, including an ROI calculation is essential to gaining approval. When investing in a 3D CPQ Product Configurator, we recommend looking at the value of the tool for customer engagement AND the positive impact it can have on overall operations and sales process efficiencies.

To wrap things up, there are many considerations prior to investing in a product configurator. Our team has been helping manufacturers implement 3D CPQ Product Configurators for over 10 years. We know what it takes, and we’re with you every step of the way.

What we do know is this; demand for digital specification and visualization tools will only continue to grow in our industry. Currently, only 30% of contract furniture manufacturers currently have a visualization or product configurator tool. Of those, a majority are simple visualizers that don’t integrate with back-office systems and can’t support customer-specific pricing. What an opportunity to show thought leadership and set yourself apart from the competition. Making an informed decision that considers current and future needs, costs, and preliminary return-on-investment is an excellent first step. Having an initial conversation doesn’t cost you anything! Reach out, and let’s have a discussion.     

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