Benefits for Companies
The mass customization process also contributes to the company’s marketing research because individual customer orders give the company insight into a wide range of customer data and customer needs. Online registration and newsletters encourage customer loyalty.
Types of Mass Customization
This is where a company works in collaboration with a customer who isn’t able to or doesn’t know exactly what they desire. Here a company will offer customers a wide range of options and adaptations to choose from. Therefore, the customer will go from having no clue what they want to a final product.
This approach is where a company offers a product or service that the customer can change to perform different functions. Rather than changing small components over and over the customer can alter the base product or service once in use.
The cosmetic method is used when customers are happy with the base product and are happy with the features. However, they would like it presented in a different way to suit them.
This format is typically used by a company when they know what the customer wants. Subsequently, a product will be customised based on what the company already knows about the customer rather than having to deal with the customer directly.
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Advantages and Disadvantages
Mass customization has great benefits when it’s used in the correct context. However, it’s not always the answer. Here are some pros and cons to help you decide if it’s something that’s right for you.
Businesses often charge more for a customized product leading to higher profits.
Allowing customer customization creates good relationships therefore, cutting out the need for a middle man or service.
Customized products can create a unique selling point and make a businss stand out from the crowd.
Providing customization makes consumers happy and increases satisfaction and sales.
Providing customization tools and processes can be costly.
The product type has to be taken into account. A basic item doesn’t benefit from customization whereas luxury items do.
Customized products can take much longer to create and ship leading to longer wait times.
Fluctuating demand can cause supply chain issues and retuns are not practical.
How Technology Helps
Technology is important when considering mass customization. It cannot really be done without it. From a small home operation using a Cricut machine all the way to a plant using robotics, technology is at the heart of this operation. Here we’ll look into what kinds of technology are used.
These are software tools that apply customization of a product. They allow the user to customize parts and features of a product to their desired result. The customer will often be able to do this via an app or on the business website. In addition, they are presented with the options and how much extra they cost along with a running total. Visuals are vital here to give the user an idea of what the final or even ongoing product looks like. Once the customer is happy and the order placed it will be sent to the relevant production team. They will do a number of things with the tool including making visual, CAD or 3D printed models. Futhermore, they will screen the item to check it is viable, feasable and safe to make. Unfgotunately, without this software customization can be slow and prone to errors in communication.
CAD and 3D Scanning
CAD stands for Computer Aided Design. Most products today are created using CAD, gone are the days of manual drafting by hand. This fast, efficient and modern method creates 2D and 3D models along with a whole host of other tools. Furthermore, customization features can be added to these tools making the process much smoother and easier to visualise. Consider medical products where they have to fit the customer such as dental applications or prostheses. Therefore, these made by hand products usually involve a lot of trial and error and redesign/adjustments. Thankfully, 3D scanning can tell the CAD software the exact size and shape to fit the patient perfect first time around.
3D Printing and Rapid Tooling
Also known as additive manufacturing or AM, this technology creates three-dimensional parts from CAD or 3D scan models. 3D printers are quite advanced these days and can create quite complex shapes and designs. Although it’s used in many medical settings other businesses have taken this technology onboard. Hasbro created their Selfie Series where customers could make a model of themselves. Rapid tooling is a group of faster methods for production, of which 3D printing is a part. In the past, traditional tooling involved the use of machining and metal casting to produce parts and items. These can be expensive and not a good fit for mass customization.
Used in automation and mass customization robitics are the next generation applications for production. However, many people think of giant robots in large warehouses manufacturing cars and other machines. However, the goal eventually is to have more and more compact robots that can work alongside people. Smaller manufacturers can take advantage of these smaller robots and for many they are ideal for mass customization.