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What is a Product Configurator? How it works, types, examples, benefits.

The e-commerce market is evolving. The global retail ecommerce market is expected to experience significant growth in the coming years and grow to exceed $8 trillion by 2026. By 2024, ecommerce will comprise nearly 22% of global retail sales. The most common structure of sales includes various channels, tools, and platforms for online sales. Retailers are constantly rediscovering the way of selling online, and customers are getting more and more comfortable in their shopping experience – whether it's product customization, fast checkout processes, or flexible payments.

One of the increasingly popular tools that facilitate and accelerate online sales are product configurators. The configurator allows customers to create and/or personalize the product on their own, depending on individual needs.

What is a product configurator?

A product configurator is a software tool that allows clinets to customize and build their own unique products. This tool is often used in ecommerce where customers can specify their preferences, such as color, size, materials, and features, to create a personalized product that meets their specific needs.

Product configurators typically use a user-friendly interface, to guide customers through the customization process. The configurator may display images or 3D models of the product being customized, along with real-time pricing and availability information.

Modern configurators do not require specialized software or hardware, all users will need is a computer, tablet or smartphone with a browser. The tool can be integrated with an online store and the entire sales and even production system. Depending on the business model.

How does the product configurator work?

The usual process of configuration presented below can be modified depending on the product or unique UX/UI design:

  1. Selection of the base product: The user begins by selecting the base product they wish to customize, such as a piece of furniture, a car model, or a pauch.

  2. Selection of available options: The configurator then presents the available options for the user to choose from. For example, if configuring a sofa, the options may include the size, the upholstery type and color, the wood finishing, the legs material and additional functionalities or add-ons.

  3. Real-time visualizations: As the user makes their selections, the configurator updates the visual representation of the product in real-time, showing how each selection affects the appearance and functionality of the product.

  4. Pricing and availability: The configurator also calculates the price of the product based on the selected options, and displays this information to the user. In addition, it may also indicate the availability of each option.

  5. Submission of order: Once the user has finalized their selections, they can submit their order through the configurator. The last step may be adding a product to the cart or summarizing the specification of the selected variant and sending an order that is then processed by the manufacturer or retailer.

Types of product configurators

The choice of the configurator depends on the type of product, budget and specific needs. Ready-made, refined 3D solids of the product will be a great help and relief for the budget.

3D configurators - use 3D models to visualize a realistic representation of a selected product option in real time. They are especially useful for products with complex designs or many options, such as furniture or kitchen appliances. Example: furniture repeatable product configurator that can be quickly and easily implemented for subsequent products

Modular configurators - allow users to mix and match various pre-designed modules or components to create a customized product. For example, a modular rack configurator could allow users to choose different sizes, materials and finishes for each individual shelf. Example: modular configurator of bathroom cabinet BLU Configurator

VR  product configurator - built with virtual reality technology is a type of visual configurator that allows users to see and interact with a 3D representation of the customized product in a virtual environment. With a VR-based product configurator, users can "step inside" the virtual environment and see the product from multiple angles and perspectives. They can interact with the product by selecting and manipulating different options, such as changing the color or texture of the product or adding or removing components. This type of configurator typically requires the use of a VR headset or other VR-enabled device.

Configurators can be integrated with an online store or operate only in a traditional sales network as a tool in the hands of sellers to facilitate current visualization and pricing of all product variants.

How product configurator is helping to improve the businesses?

Overall, a product configurator automates the sale of customized products, while also providing a highly interactive and engaging experience for users. 3D product visualization also increases purchase confidence as customers can now view products from different angles, change materials and sizes in real time.

Implementing AR functionality will be a natural complement to the engaging experience of the online product using 3D models. AR gives customers the opportunity to view and try on a configured 3d product in their own space.

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