Customized products require a customized supply chain. We explain the benefits to mass customization and share some tips to ease up the process.
The global supply chain has been built around the concept of identical parts being shipped across the world to create equally identical products. But as products grow more complex, manufacturers and suppliers must look to innovate in order to adapt to changing environments. One growing development? Mass customization.
Let’s take a look at some recent examples.
For years, BMW had a reputation for manufacturing cars that combined sleek style with exceptional performance. Since the 1990s, the company has also gained recognition for its customization program, which allows buyers to design their own car from a set of available options and then have it delivered in as little as 12 days of ordering.
Not all industries easily lend themselves to mass customization. Here are some of the common supply chain issues companies face when adding customizable products:
Online shopping allows consumers to take control of their shopping experience, including how they can customize products. The auto industry allows customers to “build” their ideal car online before locating a similar model near them. M&M’s conducts all of its customization online. E-commerce will make mass customization a widespread asset that companies can capitalize on if they prepare.
Companies should use data to understand their products, pricing, and target market. Stay vigilant about keeping track of your suppliers and the products they provide, and customize the way you distribute your products, too.
In a 2015 survey conducted by Deloitte, 36 percent of consumers said they were interested in purchasing customized goods. As e-commerce makes customization easier, that percentage will likely grow. Product customization allows businesses to cater to new target markets and diversify their product offerings.
But without the right level of visibility and data leverage, the benefits don’t outweigh the costs. If you’re considering a move to customization, don’t let your supply chain hold you back. Instead, use data and transparency to bring it up to speed.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in September 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.