Product configurator on the website

Must-have or just a toy?

It happened just the other day. Much earlier than I expected, the heating in my house conked out. It was beyond repair, so a new system had to be installed. But what make should I choose? And which model? Aren’t there specialists for this type of problem? I don’t have a favourite plumber, so I’ll rely on whoever gives me the best quote – that was the theory anyway.

The reality was completely different. Two plumbers gave me a quotation along with their standard brochures. In the brochures were all (!) of the modules available from the manufacturer, complete with lengthy descriptions, technical data, pictures and diagrams. Traditional product information that you take one look at and then throw away. 

With the third supplier things were different. On his first call he recommended taking a look at the manufacturer’s website. I could apparently gain a lot of valuable information while he was preparing the quote. Exploring a heating system online? Putting together a rationally-driven investment online? What was the point?

So out of curiosity I did just that and noticed the website had a product configurator that even I could understand, so I tried out the different possibilities. I just played around a little, looking for inspirations. It was nice to have a say in what was going on. The daunting subject of a heating system, gradually took on a more approachable form. Things suddenly began to make sense. You cannot believe how happy I was to read the third plumbers quotation. And it was not the cheapest option. 

Buying a new heating system may not be mechanical engineering. However experiencing and exploring the products before buying is at least as important as the price in the quotation. A customer wants to feel part of things quickly and also have some understanding of what they can buy from you. A machine with the serial number ZGA-546 is much easier to sell when the customer knows what it is, and may even be looking forward to their ZGA-546 with the module 57A. It is all about the feeling that you are purchasing something rather than being sold something. 

The product configurator in the B2B sector does not aim to generate direct sales via credit card. It is, however, an important instrument to emotionalise your product, so the customer can experience it. So they can “test drive” the product on the sofa at the weekend and tell their colleagues about it on Monday morning. A lengthy product description alone is no longer enough. It’s too boring! The customers want to try things out. And some customers may well be prepared to save their “configuration” on the website with their personal details – an excellent lead for your sales department. 

Incidentally: even when a customer prefers not to show their data, you can still evaluate which options are configured especially frequently online. A better user survey is hard to find! 

For this reason: give your customers the opportunity to try out your products. They don’t just want to play.