Group 7: Mass Customization Mini Case


Mass Customization definition: a flexible production system to deliver a product to order that matches the needs of an individual customer or user (Randall, Terweisch and Ulrich, 2003)

Five different principles of user design:

1) Customize the customization process;

  • Different customers have different type of buying behavior, thus we need to serve different customers with different sales techniques (in terms of user friendliness).
  • Types of interface: 1) Parameter based 2) Needs based
  • e.g: Dell website’s different user interfaces

2) Provide starting points;

  • Consumers differ greatly in the extent to which they wish to affect the design of a product.
  • Different starting points: 1) Free form design 2) Combinatoric configuration 3) Starting points
  • e.g: Customatix, Adidas miCoach, NikeID

3) Support incremental refinement;

  • Consumers want to see benefits of different designs that they make and compare them before they make their final choice.
  • e.g: Consumers want to know the price and weight difference when they upgrade the size of a Dell Studio laptop.

4) Exploit prototypes to avoid surprises;

  • Consumers may be difficult to communicate the attributes via a computer screen and consumers may also make mistake in understanding the product attributes.
  • e.g: Different clothes size in Asia and Europe without enough explanation may result in ordering errors.

5) Teach the consumer;

  • Consumers need to understand the design space, including the design parameters as well as the product attributes.
  • e.g: A novice consumer may not understand what is a motherboard, or quality of any hardware.

Some example of companies with successful mass customization:

  1. IKEA Home Planner: Parameter based, product attributes are given well-defined descriptions, applications is easily downloadable through different operating systems.
  2. Burger Bar: Make-your-own burger restaurant, product attributes are given well-defined descriptions as well.

Some examples of companies with unsuccessful mass customization:

  1. Levi’s Original Spin; causes of bankruptcy: the domestic factory was closed, bad relationship with customers
  2. Customatix; too many parameters (result in billions of possible combinations), they did not have their own factories.

Group 7 (Afternoon Session): Bobby, Naoual, Sharelyn

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