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Simply put, a product configurator is a software application for designing products exactly matching customers’ individual needs. It allows customers to choose between product features, options and technically viable combinations and is a crucial tool for company-to-customer interaction and cooperation.

And what exactly should a configurator be able to do?

Sophisticated configurators have been the enabling force in various domains; in mass customization they have been one of the efficiency drivers for the concept of bringing together custom manufacturing and mass production through shifting the time-consuming demands identification process to the customers themselves. But with moving the responsibility of creating the fitting individualized product to the customer there is a set of requirements that are necessary to support this process of adding and changing functionalities or building fully custom enclosures from scratch without creating confusion. Furthermore, configurators should be empowering to the customer and offer success supporting elements that make the customization journey a brand value supporting experience and even create customer joy.
A configurator is much more than a technical feature set; it is in fact an essential software tool for companies in the upcoming age of customization.

Why are there so many different names for one and the same tool?

Although the word “configurator” is more and more widespread for this tool there are a number of other expressions, like Mitch Tseng and Frank Piller, two leading academic experts pointed out already in the year 2003 in their book “The Customer Centric Enterprise-Advances in Mass Customization and Personalization” when looking at the core role and function of configurators:
“Known as configurators, choice boards, design systems, toolkits, or co-design platforms, these systems are responsible for guiding the user through the configuration process. Different variations are represented, visualized, assessed and priced which starts a learning-by-doing process for the user. While the term “configurator” or “configuration system” is quoted rather often in literature, it is used for the most part in a technical sense addressing a software tool. The success of such an interaction system is, however, by no means not only defined by its technological capabilities, but also by its integration in the whole sale environment, its ability to allow for learning by doing, to provide experience and process satisfaction, and its integration into the brand concept.”
Exactly this overall flexibility and integration possibilities drive the success of we in the market.