Welcome to Mass Customisation

Last Updated Apr 14, 2010 10:17 AM EDT

Consumerism has reached a new level, where expectations of choice and service aren't coupled with expectations of high prices.

The high street had become become saturated with choice and price wars before the recession prompting customers to demand products that suited their specific needs and desires. If you buy an expensive car, you expect it to be painted in the colour you love, to your exact specifications so that you drive away feeling like, well -- you.

The difference now is that consumers still want tailored products, but at affordable prices.

I'd like to call this mass customisation. Allowing the customer to feel special, buying an item that's entirely suited for them at an affordable price.

Traditional retailing wasn't able to provide both, but with the rise in online retailing, customers really can have something tailored for them. I think there are three factors that make up mass customisation:

  1. A tailored offering: The customer feels special because they are allowed to make a multiplicity of choices. They are allowed to express themselves in what they are buying.
  2. Affordable pricing: Customer expectations mean they don't want to do without or have less of a choice because the price is too high for them.
  3. Quality of service: The real differentiator between mass customisation and established internet retailing is that customers feel comfortable asking for something not on the menu and trust the retailer to provide a quality product.
When founding A Suit That Fits.com, I felt really passionately that tailored suits should be accessible everybody. Having a robust internet-based administration back office means we can offer many millions of choices, so that each customer can come away with something completely tailored to their own demands.

We source quality tailoring, at a responsible rate, from overseas and run a mixed internet, branch and nationwide tailor stop storefront. This approach drives efficiencies and reduces costs, and these benefits can be passed on as savings to customers.

The most important thing about mass customisation is service. It's so important for us to give customers exactly what they want. If one of our customers has a special fabric or style in mind that they want for their trousers, why not provide it for them?

I think mass customisation is viable for other existing B2C companies, but it requires a robust web infrastructure to support it. It would be difficult to ensure a high level of customer service over a multiple locations without it.