Customers are no longer satisfied with standards. On the contrary, they expect individualized products that reflect their own wishes or meet their specific needs. Product attributes such as colour, size, shape, equipment or technical details can already be selected online and customers can thus configure an end product tailored to their needs. The so-called 3D configurator is responsible for this.

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Their use is particularly well established in the automotive, furniture and PC industries. The potential in the B2B sector currently remians largely untapped, but is enormous. In this article we explain the advantages an online product configurator can offer, with special attention to possible applications in the B2B area.

Fulfilling individual requirements – learning from B2C.

Mass customization is on everyone`s lips. The wishes and individual requirements of customers are becoming increasingly important. Start-Ups such as and based their business model on this idea: to meet the customer`s personal taste and at the same time make shopping an experience.

Another remarkable feature is the possibility of customizing products with user-generated content. With, and many further manufacturers of photo books and calendars customer have the option between self-made motivesm different organization possibilities and sizes to select.

The challenge is to enable individualized mass production and to offer the many different combinations at a fair price.

If you are looking for a dream car or a new wardrobe, this procedure is well known: Check it, look at the picture preview, check it off, select again and click again until the favoured combination is finished. This is the simplified dynamics of a configurator, a kind of combination game that reacts not only with individualized customer approach, but also with individualized products.

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An online configurator enables customers to display the right product from the large number of possible product variants intuitively, easily and quickly and to order directly according to their individual requirements.

This is particularly useful for B2B companies offering highly complex goods for sale. It is therefore not surprising that the demands in B2B are also increasing in this direction.

But what are the advantages of a configurator in the B2B sector?

Effective digital Sales Consultants.

The Zeppelin Construction Machinery configurator from the world`s largest manufacturer of construction machinery, Caterpillar, is very similar to a car configurator. Here, customers can also easily assemble large machines such as cranes. For example, they can configure the cabin, other equipment such as filling or special painting as well as the warranty individually on the computer or on the tablet. The finished construction machine can then be downloaded, sent or printed out. It is not possible to place an order directly, but you can contact an advisor.

The advantages are that the salesperson quickly and easily gets to know the needs, preferences and requirements of his customers. Namely which components are to be installed or what budget the customer has available.

Subsequently, the configurator for the specialized trade represents a helpful guideline for the consulting discussion. The sales representative has the necessary information, such as material availability, prices, delivery dates etc. directly at hand.

Configurators are funny and convenient.

As if it were a toy from Lego, in which the various bright colors were to match, customers have the opportunity to playfully deal with a new product before receiving personal advice from the specialist trade.

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In addition, retailers and manufacturers can offer customers added value. From collected information, an offer can be automatically generated in various formats based on the stored formulas and rules: cover letters, calculations, drawings, illustrations or operating instructions.

With the 3D CAD configurator from Bernecker + Rainer (B&R), a manufacturer in automation technology, it is possible to design the required component freely accessible via the browser itself and then export it in all formats for all common CAD systems. The complexity of the products results from the countless adjustment and combination possibilities to be adapted to the customer.

Avoid product errors.

Thanks to the various setting options and the diverse selection – especially in B2B – a product configurator can offer an automated feasibility check for the exclusion of product defects and thus support the customer individually in his decision-making.

Sometimes you can easily get lost in the countless possible combinations and therefore choose the wrong components for a certain product. But the configurator avoids wrong selections, as it does not allow all possible combinations.

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At Eisele, a manufacturer of high-quality connection components, customers can rest assured. Depending in the selected options, the catalog updates in real time. This means that only the appropriate parts are available at all times.

Conclusion: Relieve the sales department.

In summary, an online configurator in B2B sales:

  • Deliver effective and targeted customer advice and thus represent a competitive advantage.
  • Save time and money.
  • Offer an emotional and playful level, which can significantly lower the hurdle of the first contact.
  • Strengthen customer loyalty and create individuals offers.
  • Support sales as a digital sales consultant.

But the last two advantages also pose major challenges. On the one hand, tailored product production is a problem when it comes to exchange and return.

On the other hand, the digitization of distribution requires internal changes: Determining prices and breaking down each end product into combinable and measurable (in terms of price) parts is a challenge in itself. In addition, a configurator must be simple and intuitive to use.