The Power of Configurators for the Specialty Vehicles Industry


Markets have never been more flexible or in such constant motion as they are today. In the manufacturing industry it is becoming increasingly popular for end users and dealers to want to customize as much of their product as possible. As the demand for made-to-order specialty vehicles, boats, and yachts increases, buyers are seeking greater customization. This demand is increasing the need for tools to help with the special order and customization that buyers need, in turn making it increasingly difficult for manufacturers to maintain profitability. A recent study done by MIT documented this trend when it illustrated that out of 27,000 products produced, there were upwards of 17,000 different configuration options. Because of this new demand for configuring and manufacturing, made-to-order products are being automated, streamlined, and simplified using Configure, Price and Quote (CPQ) software. CPQ brings powerful business benefits to the boating and automotive industry manufacturers, distributors, and end users. Below are some key trends that are being brought to light by customers’ needs and wants in the specialty vehicle manufacturing industry:

Customers Are Becoming More Demanding

As competition rises and customers are becoming used to having a plethora of options, many global executives are revealing that customers are becoming less loyal to their brand. A lot of this is due to the fact that the internet is becoming a very informative tool when comparing standard product features and prices. The more options customers have, the less likely they are to be a repeat customer, and since the old model of revenue used to show that 80% of purchases are made by 20% of customers, this can be very worrisome for organizations.

Customers Want More Visuals

Speciality and automotive manufacturers face visual challenges that can benefit from customization and configuration. For example, an RV company needs different types of transmission and tires to deal with different weather challenges among its customer base located in different parts of the country. A bus seat company needs different size seats to fit its variety of customers, such as school buses, charter buses etc. In addition to demanding more customization, customers increasingly want to be more involved in the development of the product. A recent study done by Harvard Business School, coined the phrase “The Ikea Effect” meaning that the more people participate in the making of a product or service, the more satisfaction they ultimately get out of it. Participants actually saw their creations as labors of love and were therefore more attached to the product itself. Research shows that 40% of people respond better to visual information than to just text. A CPQ can be an incredible visual aid that customers can use as a tool to build and configure a product. It helps the relationship that customers have to their products and makes them emotionally tied to what they are helping build.

Customers Want Ease of Use

In the past few decades, consumers have become accustomed to better digital experiences. It has been noted that, on average, the typical consumer has about 30 different applications installed on their smartphone, all helping to facilitate daily life. Through all this digital advancement in everyday life, consumers have become somewhat spoiled in the way they trek through daily activity and expect the same form of user experience in all aspects of business life. Consumer expectations further heighten as Millennials enter the workforce and the pace of innovation quickens.

Internal software that is to be used by consumers from all facets, whether they are tied to the dealer network or are end users, should be flexible and easy enough to use that the participation in using the software only boosts the experience. A CPQ software solution should be intuitive and engage customers through various building and buying cycles in a way that makes it simple and seamless to move through tasks. Delivering functionality that users actually want and need maximizes the value of your product.

With the use of a robust CPQ platform, your products can be dynamically viewed and generated in 2D and 3D representations making the process of evaluating and comparing products much more simple. A police chief can share the new lights on a squad car visually in the comfort of his precinct. An architect can dynamically generate 3D CAD models to walk a potential client through new construction all with the easy click of a few buttons on his iPad.

Customers Want Integration into ERP and CRM

With the help of a CPQ solution your entire complex system can be more than streamlined; it can be completely transformed into a systematic machine that ties into your ERP and CRM system. Manual administrative work is reduced while your workforce frees up time to concentrate on tasks such as research and development and selling.

Configure, Price and Quote solutions hold great promise and opportunity complex products such as boats, cars, recreational vehicles, farm equipment, or anything that can be built and is made-to-order. Ultimately, building a configurator that is not only flexible but delivers an unexpected and visually pleasing experience forges an even stronger relationship to your product and ultimately your brand, creating ambassadors and empowered customers.

If you are looking into a CPQ solution, please reach out to us and let us show you what we are made of.