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Customizing Electronics While Maintaining Profitability

Electronics customization can be an expensive feature to offer, but the benefits can help outweigh the costs, and a visible supply chain can help you meet your customers' needs while maintaining profitability. Given the market demand for individualization, the question shouldn't be why a company would want to provide customization and personalization – the real question should be how .

According to Bain & Company, nearly 1/3 of consumers are interested in customizing their products and this percentage is projected to grow. The fashion industry, for example, has seen success with customization by empowering consumers to choose the colors and fabrics of their sneakers, or giving them the option to add embroidered initials on clothing and accessories, before purchasing.

Consumers are starting to customize beyond that. On nearly everything, from the color of their cell phones to the memory sticks for their laptops, consumers want a personalized touch. They can have their name etched onto the back of a phone or tablet, or hear a special greeting when their device is turned on. However, we all know that customizing electronics is more difficult. Some devices require hundreds of parts from many manufacturers – and with the added layer of customization, the supply chain can quickly become complicated, leading to lost revenue and unsatisfied customers.

Yet, there are successful electronics supply chains excelling in mass customization. In order for each customized product to be processed in a timely and efficient fashion, in a way that doesn't destroy profitability for the sake of personalization, the last mile of the supply chain must be perfectly executed, through visibility into the entire process, slick packaging, and quick shipping.

Visibility

For consumer electronics, supply and demand have always been important factors – even more so when it comes to personalization of those products. With real-time insights into your operations – including orders, returns, expectations, and market-trends – combined with knowing where your product's parts and materials are, your supply chain will be better prepared to make adjustments based on need.

Accurate forecasting helps supply chain managers identify how many products should be mass-produced to default specifications and how many must be prepared for personalization. A visible supply chain enables personalization to be delivered on as promised, without making inventory, logistics operations costs and fulfillment times increase exponentially.

Packaging

Previously an afterthought, packaging has become an important final chapter in a brand's marketing efforts. Packaging factors like material, color and design impact a customer's first impression with their chosen electronic device. Think of the slick, clean packaging of an Apple product or extra items like the custom screwdriver within the Nest package. These details create an experience that becomes part of the overall impression that a consumer takes away.

That being said, from a manufacturing side, it's crucial to design packaging that isn't overly complicated or time consuming to assemble because when it comes to customizing electronics, time is always of the essence.

Shipping

The last mile is crucial. When a consumer personalizes their electronics product of choice, they want it to arrive on their doorstep within days, not months. The personalization processes must be set up in a way that won't excessively delay product delivery.

Location is a key factor when it comes to shipping. Consider if you will be shipping all of your mostly finished products to one location for customization, or if you'll have a customization center at each of your assembly/manufacturing sites. Whichever option you select, when choosing a physical facility for the customization step, it's crucial to ensure that quick and affordable shipping is nearby.

As the customization market explodes, the efficiency of your supply chain is crucial to offering this benefit while preventing revenue loss. With a clear view into your supply chain, thoughtful packaging and a fast last mile to the customer, you too can excel in mass customization.

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