Defining Custom Product Specifications – Common Challenges

Over the last few years, online design software has become an increasingly popular market, with consumers and small businesses looking to expand their repertoire by taking advantage of the chance to express themselves through custom products.
Unfortunately, there are many difficulties associated with custom product design. Customers typically want their custom products for a specific event, and this means that there is a time pressure associated with the design. Manufacturers must make a good faith effort to provide responses promptly, and to offer the customisations that the consumer requests in a timely fashion.

The Challenge of Communication

The difficulty that custom product designers face is that if they are offering design services for their customers then they may find it difficult to understand what the consumer is asking for. Most consumers lack the vocabulary to clearly communicate what they are looking for, and this means that the design process may require several iterations as the customer requests changes or corrections. This makes prompt responses all the more important, but can be frustrating for the consumer and a massive time sink for the designer.

Managing the Process

To date, companies have been taking one of two key approaches to product design, either allowing the customer to design their own products using online design tools, or having the sales team define the specification for the product while they are closing the sale with the customer. Allowing the sales team to dictate the design is problematic, because they often lack the expertise to say for certain whether the design the customer is asking for will work in practice, and whether it will look the way that the customer expects “in the real world”.
Using custom product designers puts the task of design in the hands of the consumer, and this means that the company is absolved of the responsibility to ensure that the product looks the way the customer expects. It also means that the customer gets exactly what they asked for, saving back-and-forth communication and the risk of the customer “settling” for a product that they didn’t really want. Today, the power is in the hands of the consumer.