Configurators/Choiceboards: Uses, Benefits, and Analysis of Data

Configurators/Choiceboards: Uses, Benefits, and Analysis of Data

Paul D. Berger (Bentley University, USA), Richard C. Hanna (Northeastern University, USA), Scott D. Swain (Northeastern University, USA) and Bruce D. Weinberg (Bentley University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-611-7.ch042
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This article discusses the uses and benefits of configurator/choiceboard systems, and how analysis of data from its use can be useful to the company having such a system. Dell and other companies have greatly improved, if not perfected, the art of product customization by using a system of choiceboards or configurators (used here as interchangeable terms) that allow consumers to customize their products. A popular term for what is being accomplished by the use of choiceboards is “mass customization,” a term that not long ago may have been thought of as an oxymoron. We always had “job shops” that produced to order for individual consumers or companies. However, relatively speaking, individual customization did not occur on a large-scale basis, and was quite distinct from what was called mass production, and surely, was not routinely available online even when there was first an “online.”
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Uses And Benefits

A choiceboard system serves many purposes. First, it lets consumers customize their products or services. At one time, such customization was possible only for high ticket items like automobiles. Rather than buying a car off the dealer’s floor, customers have long been able to select a color along with other options—air conditioning, automatic or manual transmission, sunroof, etc. There is clear evidence that consumers enjoy the opportunity to customize their products as long as the process is painless—ideally offering perfect orders and super service (FastCompany, 2000). A perfect order “…gets shipped on time and complete, and arrives at a customer’s desired location within a precise time window and in excellent, ready-to-use condition.” Super service has the flexibility to handle last-minute customer changes and still provide the same level of service. Consumers can balance priorities, deciding whether they care most about price, delivery time, or various special options.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Configurator: Another word for Choiceboard

Conjoint analysis: A set of statistical technique used in market- and marketing research to determine how people value different features that make up an individual product or service.

Mass Customization: A term used in marketing and manufacturing, representing the use of flexible, computer-aided manufacturing systems to produce custom output. In other words, it combines mass production processes with individual customization.

Choiceboard: An interactive online-software that enables customers to choose, for a variety of features, a single option from a list of options. Used during online purchase, a customer can take a basic product and then customize it by selecting from a set of product features.

Full profile: In conjoint analysis, a product combination being evaluated that has some level of every attribute in the choice set (vs. a partial profile: a product combination being evaluated with only a subset of attributes in the choice set being specified).

Self-reported purchase intent: Respondents provide their best estimate for their likelihood of purchase in the future.

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