Customization vs. product quality

In our recent research on consumer preferences in the context of product customization, we asked respondents to consider the product customization process.  We asked them “How important would the following factors be to you?”

(Red = very important. Blue = extremely important)

Quality

Quality is king.  Authenticity is a form of quality. Users are inspecting zoom images, researching where products are made, reading reviews, scrutinizing product specs and asking friends for their opinions.  Users want value above all else.

The importance of quality is worth mentioning because many companies that offer custom products tend to highlight customizability above all else.  Custom candy, for example, may NOT be inherently more valuable than standard candy.    It would be a mistake to assume that the ability to customize supersedes product quality.

Yes, customization adds value, and perhaps even merits a price premium, but customization in itself is not a fully baked value proposition.  The key learning here is that inviting users to “have it their way” means nothing unless the core product is desirable.   A custom fitted shirt, for example, lacks in quality if it shows up on your doorstep poorly constructed and made from cheap fabric.

Size / Fit

Far and away the biggest barrier to adoption of the online retailing market is “the fit problem.”   How can users match their body dimensions to custom products?   There is no clear answer, as this is still an unsolved problem.    Certainly, integrating a product configurator into the shopping flow is a good start, but the challenge is in making the fit process frictionless and 100% accurate.   There are millions to be saved in product returns.

Ease of use: check out process

Shoppers don’t tolerate awkward shopping cart check-out experiences anymore.   Brush up on techniques for converting shopping cart abandons.  Again, customization does not supersede the importance of the basics.  The basics include a smooth, fast checkout.

Here’s a great example of the impact of poor ecommerce design, Expedia removed one field from their registration process and increased sales by $12M.   Shoppers get frustrated easily, it’s important to streamline wherever you can to minimize the risk of abandons.

More on build-your-own experience, selection, and brand loyalty in a future post…

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2 Responses

  1. Efficient and easy to use shopping carts really are key. I tend to give up pretty quickly if things don’t work just right when I am trying to check out. If they want to make it difficult for me to buy their product, that is their problem. Things like strange password requirements and removing your entries from fields every time something goes wrong are also major impediments.

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