It’s back to the future. Prior to the industrial revolution, anybody who could afford it would go to a specialized artisan to custom make their furniture, clothing, and almost every other item for use or decoration. The medieval guilds controlled the training and supply of a wide variety of items. Following Henry Ford’s offering of the famous Model T that you could buy in any color as long as it was black, the 20th Century focused around perfecting mass production, resulting in lower cost items that were made easily available to all.
Enter the 21st century and customers are now wanting unique, custom and personalized items. Research has shown that users who interact with products, designing them and personalizing them online, are far more likely to purchase them. Consumers are now expecting product customization and forward-thinking merchants realize the need to satisfy this growing demand for choice.
Remember, there doesn’t need to be a huge shift in your business or product model. Customization can be as simple as letting your customers choose their own color scheme, or as personal as letting consumers add their name and favorite color to an item. Either way, it doesn’t need to be complicated to implement on your website.
One highly recommended book on customization is Custom Nation (customnation.com), written by Anthony Flynn and Emily Flynn Vencat. In the words of the authors: “because customization is itself such a flexible concept, encompassing everything from completely built-to-order to simple personalized packaging, I believe that every company – no matter what the business model, size or scope – can reap enormous rewards from it.”
Top 10 Benefits of Adding Product Customization to Your Business
So what are these rewards? In Chapter 8, the authors have put together a list of nine solid ways that design-your-own can benefit your business. Based on the actual experience of Doogma’s customers, I’ve added in a tenth reason why every company should add product customization to their business.
- Free Publicity – To quote Custom Nation: “By adding even a small CIY [Create Your Own] section to your company’s retail offering, you give journalists from all sizes of publications (from Vogue to the local blogger) a hot topic to cover in their next article.” A cool customization option in your product line will make you the talk of town. You don’t need to be a high-end brand like Louis Vuitton for this to work in your favor. Simply make it fun, make it relevant, and you can become a consumer and media hit.
- Higher Prices – NPD Group conducted a study in 2011, which showed that consumers will pay approximately a 25% premium for customized goods.
- Free Market Research – Product customization is one of the best tools to understand what your customers want. Flynn talks about Disney and how customization made the entertainment group realize that they should launch a whole new merchandising line, which brought in huge revenues. You don’t need to be a Disney for this to work for you too. Just pay attention to what your customers are creating and this will tell you a story.
- A Bigger Slice of the Gift Market – In Flynn’s words, “… imbuing products with custom elements increases their gift appeal.” This holds true for inexpensive and expensive items. Hallmark did it with Christmas cards, Blue Nile did it with diamond engagement rings. Very different price points, both huge successes.
- More Repeat Sales with Lower Return Rates – The more involved consumers are in creating their purchases, the more connected they’ll feel to them. To quote Custom Nation: ” … they’ll get exactly what they want and they’ll feel more connected to the end product.” So what does this product connection mean for your business? Consumers who feel attachment are more likely to buy again from your site. Also, it’s been proven that buyers are less likely to return an item that they helped to create.
- Stronger Online Presence … and a More Personal Connection to Your Customers – By offering customized products on your website, you are giving consumers a reason to buy through your site, as opposed to buying through a traditional store. This becomes a cycle of success, because the more internet users that visit your site (and the more time they spend on your site) gives you a higher ranking on Google for related product searches. Also, by having a strong online presence, you can form a personal connection with your buyers (and ultimately with their social media connections). Popularity is the biggest achievement in the online social world.
- The Ability to Sell Directly to Consumers without Making Your Retailers Mad – You can use product customization as a way to sell different products online, so that you’re not competing directly with your retailers. Nike did it successfully with NikeID.com and didn’t cause any channel conflicts. If you’re looking to sell directly to your consumers, then this is a good option for your business too.
- Greater Customer Loyalty – Give consumers exactly what they want, when they want it and they’re more likely to stick with your brand. If you’re always saying ”yes’ to their personal needs, they’ll have no reason to switch to a competitor.
- More Sales – To quote chapter 3 of Custom Nation “… millenials (13 to 31-year-olds) have grown up with customization like never before and expect it in every aspect of their lives.” So if you give it to them, they will buy from you. Simple. And, since the millenials have huge purchasing power, more customization means a whole lot more sales for you.
- Streamlining the Order Process – Traditionally, customizing products involves a long process between supplier and customer. Customers’ requirements need to be understood and proofs are sent back and forth before the customer is satisfied. This approach ultimately becomes time-consuming, costly and frustrating for both the buyer and the company. With a product configurator on your website, the entire product customization and order process is streamlined. There is no waiting period and the customer gets to create the product exactly how he or she envisions it.
Bobby Rudenza, Senior IT Manager at Sportsdecal® says “With Doogma running on our site, we’re providing a fully customizable online order experience where users can customize and see their products before they’re ordering. This gives us a big advantage over our competitors.”
If you’d like to explore further how easy it is to add customization and personalization to your offering, contact a Doogma Consultant who will be happy to assist. Click here to see how The Doogma Designer can bring your company to the forefront of the age of customization.