Riding a bike in the Netherlands is part of everyday life, most people cycle to work or cycle to shops on a regular basis. However, for some people, cycling is not merely a method of transport; it’s a passion. For these biking enthusiasts a 50 euro second hand bike will not make the grade. These cyclists are willing to pay thousands of euros for their specialist bikes. To help match these highly demanding customers to a bike with all the features they need, Trek, an American bike company designed ‘Project One’, a bike customisation program.
Good features of the customisation process
(Based on the ‘Principles for User Design of Customized Products’ by Randall, Terwiesch and Ulrich, 2005)
The ‘Project One’ website has correctly recognised that its customers are bike experts and therefore has provided a parameter based interface for its customisation process. When choosing the components the users are given a wide product range and the technical details of the products are outlined. Also the website helpfully guides shoppers through the design process with starting points.
Another great feature of ‘Project One’ is the detailed visual depiction of the bike design which is on the screen throughout the process. The entire design process is online but Trek insists that customers buy the completed bikes through a bike dealer. This gives the customer the opportunity to see existing bikes in the shops and although they are not exact prototypes of their design it will give them a good idea. This helps to reduce the risk of designing the wrong type of bike and being disappointed, which is especially important given the high price of the product.
Possible improvements Trek could make to the customisation process
There is no community involvement on the ‘Project One’ website. Allowing consumers to use the designs of other users and giving them access to feedback on their designs has been proven to help improve overall satisfaction with the final product (Franke, Keinz and Schreier, 2008).
Another possible improvement could be the introduction of side by side comparisons of individuals’ bike designs. It is possible to bookmark ideas but not compare individual attributes of the bike and see the trade-offs between designs.
The success of Trek’s customisation tool
Since 2001, Trek’s ‘Project One’ has led the bicycle industry in customised paint and specialised options. Testament to the success of the project, Trek are expanding ‘Project One’ and further increasing customer involvement. In 2013, Trek launched Project One Mobile Experience – a moving showcase of the design process that provides potential customers with the chance to see, touch and feel the possibilities first-hand. Project One Mobile Experience was scheduled to visit 250 dealers in America in 2013 and the program will likely expand into Europe this year.