Product customization helps brands boost sales on their own websites or gain share on a retailer’s site. For example, Pepperidge Farm customers now design Goldfish crackers, and Jawbone customers configure their own Jambox speakers. Trek enables cyclists to build a bike from the ground up. And Brooks Brothers allows men to create their own suits.

Beyond the pure size of the opportunity, our survey showed that those customers who had customized a product online engaged more with the company. They visited its website more frequently, stayed on the page longer and were more loyal to the brand.

It’s back to the future. Prior to the industrial revolution, anybody who could afford it would go to a specialized artisan to custom make their furniture, clothing, and almost every other item for use or decoration. The medieval guilds controlled the training and supply of a wide variety of items. Following Henry Ford’s offering of the famous Model T that you could buy in any color as long as it was black, the 20th Century focused around perfecting mass production, resulting in lower cost items that were made easily available to all.

Enter the 21st century and customers are now wanting unique, custom and personalized items. Research has shown that users who interact with products, designing them and personalizing them online, are far more likely to purchase them. Consumers are now expecting product customization and forward-thinking merchants realize the need to satisfy this growing demand for choice.

Importance of Customization

By offering different colors, styles, designs and engravings, for example, companies can really empower customers to make their products feel like their own. All of that is great in theory, but not so easy to deal with in application.

One of the first steps is designing a front-end for your website that makes it easy for customers to lend their individual styles to your products, quickly and easily seeing how their design will look in real life.

With that done, the bigger issues of mass production and fulfillment come to the forefront. Companies must process each customized order in a timely and efficient fashion – and in a way that doesn’t destroy profitability for the sake of personalization. This means that the personalized aspects of the assembly line need to be set up at the close of mass production.