Unlocking Omni-Channel Selling:
The Power of Composable Product Configurators

Industrial manufacturers have always provided multiple sales channels for their customers, whether they be direct sales or sales via distributors, retailers and system integrators. This has required careful management to ensure that customers receive the same value and service no matter what sales channel is used.

However, two factors have increased the complexity of managing multiple sales channels. The first is the increasing demand for customization from industrial customers and the second is the increased use of digital sales channels. For example, self-service product configuration portals are designed specifically to enable customers to configure products online.

Ensuring a consistent customer experience (CX) across traditional and digital sales channels is therefore a challenge and is what distinguishes omni-channel sales from multi-channel sales. With multi-channel sales, separate, monolithic systems are used to support the sales process. With omni-channel sales, the emphasis is on ensuring consistency across channels. Using a composable product configurator – one that is both powerful and easy to implement – provides manufacturers with the ability to choose best-of-breed solutions that best fit their business objectives.

What Product Configurators Are and What Their Purpose Is

Product configurators have been industry-standard for decades. Whether it is a formal, commercial Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution, a Configure Price Quote (CPQ) solution, or an in-house Excel spreadsheet, these tools enable manufacturers to allow their sales, customers, and dealers to create customized configurations without requiring deep technical knowledge.

By enabling personalized product configurations, these configurators enhance customer satisfaction, improve efficiency in the sales process, and support mass customization strategies for businesses.

In short, a product configurator is a tool or software that enables the user to customize and configure a product according to their specific needs, preferences or requirements.

“Configit has been named a Representative Vendor in the Gartner® Market Guide for Composable Product Configurators.”

Gartner® Report: Market Guide for Composable Product Configurators, by Analyst: Mark Lewis, Published 17 April 2023.
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What Does a Product Configurator Do?

The main purpose of a product configurator is to provide customers with the ability to personalize and create tailored products that meet their specific needs. It improves the customer experience by offering customization options, reducing errors in the sales process, and enabling efficient quoting and order processing.

A product configurator typically works in the following way:

  • The user selects the product they want to configure.
  • The configurator presents the user with a list of options for the product’s components and features.
  • The user selects the options they want for the product.
  • The configurator validates the user’s choices and generates a quote for the product.
  • The user can then purchase the product.

On the “back end,” these options and choices are all being checked and validated by way of a configuration rule engine. This rule engine, a set of rules that define the possible combinations of components and features for a product, validates the user’s choices and ensures that the product is configured correctly.

Discover “Out of the Box” Functionalities in a Modern Configuration Engine

Why Composable Product Configurator?

Historically, product configurators have been bundled within other systems, such as CPQ and PLM. The growth of self-service in the B2B space (more convenient to buyers and less expensive to sellers), as well as an increase in product complexity – embedded software, globalized markets and greater demand for customization – most off-the-shelf configuration products are struggling to keep up.

By decoupling the “C” in configure, price and quote solutions, manufacturers can truly scale their operations as products continue to become more complex. By freeing the product configurator from the CPQ bundle, manufacturers can not only expand their role to include unassisted sales channels such as websites and dealer portals, but they can also scale their manufacturing and engineering operations through a centralized hub of accurate, up-to-date configuration data. Implementing a best-of-breed configuration tool throughout the enterprise not only powers all sales channels, but it also helps manufacturers identify gaps in product development, accelerate innovation, eliminate hand-over errors, and transition to a Configure-to-Order (CTO) model.

Why Manufacturers Should Choose a Composable Product Configurator

With composable product configuration, the front-end application provides a product configurator, but relies on a single composable product configuration platform that is common to all sales channels and systems. The composable product configuration platform provides modelers with an environment where they can build and verify product models and rules that define valid configuration options offered in supported each channel’s product configurators.

This means that there is a single interface point to existing systems like PLM, ERP and CRM as well as each sales channel system. It ensures that all sales channels receive the same, up-to-date, reliable information, at the same time. There can therefore be no inconsistencies and no errors with a platform that can scale with high-performance. This leads to a vastly improved customer experience and a true omni-channel experience.

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About the Author

Henrik Hulgaard Configit

Henrik Hulgaard, is the Vice President, Product Management and co-founder of Configit, a global  Configuration Lifecycle Management (CLM) solution provider and a supplier of business-critical software for configuring complex products. He holds a doctorate in computer science from the University of Washington and is an associate professor of computer science. He has published more than 25 articles internationally.