Combeenation is new Pimcore Technology Partner for Product Configuration, Customization and Personalization
Two successful companies from Austria work closely together
From February 2021, Combeenation extends the Pimcore ecosystem as a technology partner. Our company, located in the Upper Mühlviertel in Upper Austria, has been dealing with product configuration and customization since its foundation in 2009.
Founder & CEO Klaus Pilsl and the "Inner Circle" of the company, all graduates of the "software forge" FH Hagenberg, have been developing our solution for a good decade now. In the meantime, Combeenation has more than 30 employees.
Now we are happy to make the Combeenation platform available to all agencies, service providers and partners in the Pimcore ecosystem as a "Configurator Management System".
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Do you want to learn more about Product Configurators? Watch the webinar "All you need to know about Product Configurators" to get some great insights into the application areas of product configurators including examples and tips.
Why are product configurators becoming increasingly important in today's world?
A product configurator offers many advantages. Firstly, it enables all options when selecting a product to be cast into a closed solution space, giving the customer a holistic overview of his options and at the same time avoiding incorrect orders. This is an enormous advantage, especially for complex products with many variations.
Secondly, a product configurator enables the individual customization of the product. Shape, size, geometry, colors, individual elements - once defined, the user can be provided with numerous options for personalizing "his" product.
A product configurator solves all this in a playful way. Configurators from Combeenation offer the user real-time visualization, which means that changes to the product are always immediately visible and serve as "primary feedback". Also, the closed solution space ensures that the configuration is valid at all times and prevents misconfigurations. And the configurators' "free flow" architecture allows users to move freely through the configuration process, rounding out the high-quality usability in product design.
What is a product configurator?
Technically, a product configurator is the collection of all parameters and characteristics of a product, cast in a closed solution space determined by the configuration logic. For example, the sports version of a car might be available in black and silver, while the station wagon might be available in silver, blue and red.
The definition of the configuration logic (or product logic), the ability to interact with it in the form of a user interface, and the real-time visualization of the configured product represent the product configurator in a user-friendly, intuitive layout.
Advantages of a product configurator
The most significant advantage of our configurators is the high-quality, realistic real-time visualization of the individual product. We talk about "closing the imagination gap", so the user can imagine very precisely how the product will look/function, which means a huge improvement in the customer experience. Furthermore, a product configurator as a "digital advisor" allows increasing sales by making it easier to get to know all options. And we see a significant reduction in costs for our customers by avoiding wrong orders and sales efforts in general.
What is the difference between a product configurator and a product finder?
While a product finder is a recommendation system for finding the right predefined product, with a product configurator, you get a tool to interact with and design the product.
What are the types of product configurators?
When asking what types of configurators there are, we distinguish concerning three aspects:
- Type of visualization
- Areas in the sales process
Concerning the type of visualization, we develop both 2D and 3D configurators, whereby the trend (driven by technical advances) is clearly in the direction of 3D. The visualization of the product in 3D alone often ensures an increase in the conversion rate in the double-digit percentage range.
When differentiating between users, it is essentially a question of whether the configurator is used by end customers, by sales staff as a guided selling tool or by internal sales staff as a process-supporting tool. It is always important to adapt the user interface's complexity to the user's level of knowledge. Sales staff can naturally be expected to understand more details, whereas end users must not be overloaded with product complexity. Rule of thumb: The key to individualization lies in standardization. Less choice often means more "Finished Configurations" and therefore more conversions.
The third category concerns the sales process. The term "CPQ" ("configure-price-quote") is already well known. If we take a closer look at the sales process, we can extend it by "present", "buy" and "assemble".
- configure: assembling/designing the product
- present: real-time visualization of the product
- price: price calculation
- quote: quotation generation
- buy: Completion of purchase
- assemble: creation of parts lists or production-relevant data
Depending on which aspects of the sales process are to be mapped in the configurator, it is designed and used analogously.
Which areas of application are there? Which ones does combeenation cover?
Areas of application for product configurators can be found across all industries and product categories. However, the following areas are particularly noteworthy:
- Living, Home & Garden
- Textile & Fashion
- Leisure & Lifestyle
- Logistics & Warehousing
A large part of our customers can also be classified in these categories. An excerpt:
However, our product configurators can also be found in other industries such as consumer goods or consumer durables. Think, for example, of individualized packaging, personalized designs or other "value-added services".
Especially for products with high emotional value, a configurator offers the possibility to stand out from the competition and create individuality. We know from psychology that emotion is a stronger driver of purchasing decisions than purely rational aspects.
What are typical challenges in a product configurator project?
As with any (online) project, it is essential to define the goals precisely in advance. As a sales tool, a configurator must be well integrated into the company's (sales) strategy to ensure a high level of acceptance among customers and employees. The best configurator is useless if no one wants to use it.
On a technical level, it is crucial to get the entire product logic (closed solution space) down on paper, which often means one or two workshops and some consolidation work. However, the reward - a clear product logic - ALWAYS compensates for the effort.
Furthermore, it should not be underestimated that high-quality visualization data (images, CAD files, 3D models, textures, materials) are also required for high-quality visualization of the product. These can be created in the configurator implementation course and used for other areas, typically in marketing and production.
What are the most important features that Pimcore offers in this area?
Pimcore's solid API-first architecture and flexible data models provide the ability to manage complex, configurable product data and make it available to product configuration systems in a structured form via GraphQL interfaces. The integrated commerce functions can manage orders and the associated customer profiles. Especially for complex B2B pricing logics, customer-specific prices and assortments, as well as configuration contexts, a flexible data management system like Pimcore's PIM/MDM offers great advantages. In combination with a tool like Combeenation, it can also seamlessly merge content and commerce as a headless DXP/CMS. This is made possible by completely separating the presentation (the layout and user interface) from the business logic and underlying data.
What are important trends in the area of product configurators?
Configurators enable the online sale of products that were considered "too complex for e-commerce" just a few years ago. Integrated customer journeys, omni-channel commerce and phenomena such as "webrooming", where the customer gets to know the product online to be well informed and prepared for the offline purchase, dispel this prejudice. Customers are always more likely to buy online, and if they don't buy, they want to be as informed as possible about their options before making the first contact.
We are also at the beginning of the "mass customization" megatrend. Customers want to customize their product precisely to their imagination, and they want to be unique.
Therefore, we recommend that our customers and partners take a detailed look at the needs of end customers and don't miss the opportunity to offer them YOUR perfect, customized product at the right time. This works online more and better than ever because every product can be sold online.
Do you still have questions, requirements, or ideas? Then contact me right now or feel free to get in touch with your contact person at Pimcore. We are looking forward to a conversation!