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5 rules for successful product customization

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Unlocking sales potential: empowering brands with product personalization

Brands like Nike, Carolina Herrera, e Gucci now let customers create customized products, giving them more control and choices. The impact is not negligible.
A study conducted by Bain & Company underscores the significance of product customization, revealing a pronounced elevation in customer engagement and loyalty. Those offering product customization exhibit heightened loyalty, frequent engagement, and prolonged brand immersion. 
Product customization serves as a strategic conduit for brands to glean invaluable insights into evolving consumer proclivities. Brooks Brothers avowed that insights garnered from customization initiatives significantly inform the design and development of subsequent product iterations. With each custom-designed creation, a wealth of consumer data emerges, eclipsing the antiquated methods of focus groups.
Customizing products is not just a trend, but a powerful force shaping the future of shopping.
In light of our extensive experience in the market, it is evident that all successful companies adhere to a set of fundamental principles governing product customization
From Nike’s innovative shoe configurator to Gucci’s bespoke handbag creation platform, the transformative potential of customization is undeniable. Drawing from this wealth of experience, we distill these insights into five foundational rules for successful product customization.
By following these rules, businesses can create a product customization experience that is engaging, satisfying, and tailored to customers’ specific preferences.

1. Craft your customization initiative's purpose with precision

Product Personalization in-store
Product Personalization in-store
Too often, companies embark on the path of product customization driven solely by a desire to increase sales and foster customer loyalty. However, for luxury brands navigating the intricate realm of bespoke offerings, strategic clarity is paramount. 
Is the objective:
– to attract new customers, 
– deepen engagement with existing clientele, 
– or perhaps achieve an entirely different strategic imperative? 
Depending on the strategic intent, the level of product customization may range from subtle personalization within existing product lines to the creation of entirely bespoke, made-to-order items. 
Luxury brands like Camille Fournet invested in an interactive 3D configuration tool, granting consumers the power to craft bespoke products to their exact specifications. 
Louboutin Beauté Customization experience
Louboutin Beauté Personalization by Assembly Experience
Conversely, others, like Cartier or Bulgari, offer more modest customization options such as monogram engraving and color adjustments on pre-designed items.
Alternatively, brands like Carolina Herrera or Christian Louboutin Beauté embrace personalization through product assembly. Carolina Herrera customers can curate their own makeup accessories combinations by selecting from a variety of SKUs, and the company then assembles and ships them to the customers. This method not only adds a personal touch for the customer but also streamlines operations for retailers, enabling them to leverage standard product lines while still offering unique, tailored experiences.
SmartPixels stands as an invaluable partner, guiding luxury brands through every facet of this strategic journey.

2. Design a User-friendly visual configurator Interface

Moncler 3D configurator
Moncler 3D Configurator
Ensure that the customization process is intuitive and easy to navigate. Users should be able to understand how to personalize the product without encountering any confusion. Provide clear instructions and guidance throughout the customization journey.
A user-friendly interface for a real-time 3D configurator should prioritize simplicity, intuitiveness, and guidance throughout the customization process. Here are some key features:
1) Clear Navigation: The interface should have easily accessible menus and buttons, guiding users through each step of the customization process. Consumers always appreciate a progress bar to have visibility on the consumer journey. 
2) Visual Representation at the centre of the experience: Providing visual previews of customizations in real-time helps users visualize the changes they’re making. This may involve interactive 3D renderings that update as options are selected.
3) Click-to-Select: Allow users to interact with customization options easily, whether it’s through a click-to-select on a product area or simply through the dropdown menu options.
4) Undo/Redo Functionality: Include an option for users to easily undo or redo changes they’ve made during the customization process.
5) Responsive Design: Ensure the interface optimizes for various devices and screen sizes, providing a consistent experience across desktops, tablets, and smartphones.
6) Performance Optimization: Ensure that the interface loads quickly and operates smoothly, minimizing any delays or lags that could frustrate users.
In summary, a user-friendly 3D product configurator enhances the customer experience, increases engagement, reduces abandonment, and improves brand perception, making it an essential investment for businesses in these sectors.

3. Keep product customization simple: limit choice overload

Interactive e-commerce configurator realized by SmartPixels for Globe-Trotter
Interactive e-commerce configurator realized by SmartPixels for Globe-Trotter
Customization can quickly become overwhelming to consumers if, for example, they are confronted with too many personalization options. 
Research and usability studies suggest that limiting the customization process to around 3-5 steps tends to be optimal. This allows users to have enough flexibility to personalize the product to their liking while not making the process overly cumbersome.
That said, the ideal number of steps can differ based on the specific context and the nature of the product being customized. It’s essential to balance flexibility with simplicity and ensure that each step in the customization process adds meaningful value for the user.
The UX design is key to creating a unique customization experience. Brands need to keep it clear, simple, and straightforward to engage their target audience. If the configurator is unattractive and confusing, many potential shoppers will be turned off. 
Limiting personalization options and clearly separating the available steps and features is an effective way to start. 

4. Product personalization: don't let your customer leave empty-handed

Once consumers have personalized and ordered their ideal product, they are full of excitement but they don’t yet have the product to show off. Brands usually take weeks to create and send them the product which can generate some consumer frustration. One way to balance this frustration would be by not letting them leave empty-handed, providing a small gesture. 
Here are a few examples of end-of-customization experiences where consumers receive a small reward while waiting for their product:
Personalized Thank You Note or Gift: After completing the customization process, customers could receive a personalized thank you note with the 3D rendering of their product, the possibility to view the product in Augmented Reality or a small gift as a token of appreciation for their purchase. This could be something like a branded keychain, sticker, or sample product related to their customization.
Exclusive Access to Content or Community: Provide customers with exclusive access to premium content, such as how-to guides, tutorials, or behind-the-scenes content related to their customized product. Alternatively, they could gain access to a private online community where they can connect with other customers who share similar interests.
Early Access to New Products or Features: Offer customers early access to new products or features before they are available to the general public. This creates a sense of exclusivity and makes customers feel valued for participating in the customization process.
These rewards not only serve as a thank-you gesture to customers for their patience but also help enhance their overall experience with the brand, encouraging loyalty and repeat business.

5. Allow consumers to share their Instagram-friendly product configurations

Valentino user-generated content after product customization
Valentino user-generated content after product customization
Once consumers have put their personal touch on a product, they’re not just satisfied—they’re excited to showcase their creations to their social circles. This eagerness to share extends beyond personal enjoyment; it’s a potent marketing tool. User-generated content becomes a dynamic force, not only fostering deeper engagement with existing customers but also attracting new ones to the brand’s digital doorstep.
Take, for example, The North Face’s ingenious approach with their Denali jacket. By curating a gallery of designs crafted by their own customers, they’ve transformed their website into a hub of inspiration and aspiration. Each design becomes a beacon, guiding others on their journey to create something truly personal.
In this digital age, where connectivity and individuality reign supreme, such initiatives not only increase conversion rate but also cultivate a vibrant community around the brand. It’s more than just a transaction; it’s an invitation to join a movement fueled by creativity and shared passion.
Launching a customization offer is a daunting task: once the supply chain and manufacturing are in place, you will still need to drive customer engagement and show them the spectrum di available options. It also implies keeping the audience entertained while they are customizing their personal product. 
Brands that will succeed are those who know their objectives, understand to what extent they really need customization, keep things simple and create a repeatable model for delighted repeat customers.  
If you need help on the matter, do not hesitate to contact us. At SmartPixels, we help brands build innovative customization solutions online e in-store