Tuesday, March 12, 2013

How to succeed in customization

This week’s article “Putting Customers in Charge of Design” arouses my interest to research on customization. Nowadays, doing well in customization can reinforce the competence of the company, because it usually a good way to earn more customers and build reputation of the companies. But customization is very tricky thing. Large expense on customization doesn’t necessarily bring a large customer increase. Also, customization is very consuming. I still remember when we discussed the lean manufacture of Toyota that they try everything to keep conformity in manufacture. Changing the paint color during the painting process matters a lot even, because it will decrease the efficiency of manufacture line. Then it’s very difficult to customize and keep low cost and high efficiency at the same time.
After research on the customization topic, I found an article “Customization: Impact on product and process performance”. From this article, I got some ideas about how to realize customization with lower cost.
First, customized products are very dependent on higher performance and quality of products. Another primary requirement for customization is tailoring the product to unique customer needs and make sure that is what the unique need matches with. However, it’s not that easy to satisfy these two requirements. The first obstacles is obtaining the information of customer’s requirement is not easy. Because most of time, even customer themselves can’t articulate what kind of customization they need. Second, because of the complexity of customization, it doesn’t necessary result in higher performance and customer satisfactory.
From above, we can get the critical problems to identify in customization. First, decide the optimal degrees of customization. Second, design the proper and efficient manufacture process for customized products.
To solve the first problem, the development of Internet has facilitated to solve the first problem. Companies can get customers preference from the mass audience for the customized products for free. What they should do is to analyze the data and get useful information from it. Realization of customization has a lot of successful practices in IT industry. Dell’s practice is a good example. They let customers to select what they want on internet and configure the computer of their own choice, and these computers haven’t been built at this time. After Dell receives the money, they begin to build it. Customization is easier for IT industry because the products are very flexible and easy to assemble. The example in the reading article “Putting Customers in Charge of Design” also shows a good way to facilitate customization. Customers design and choose the component of product on Internet, and then make the order. The wisdom here is that customers can only choose the customization from the one that Blank Label can provide. And this is also thanks to the use of internet. Blank Label also does well in intriguing customers on customization by sales and advertisement.
Customization has its limit to different industry. For example, in auto industry, it’s much more complex and difficult to assemble a car than a computer. Then the method of build to order approach is hard to utilize in auto industry. Doing forecast for customization is also quite difficult and can easily end in redundant inventory.

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