The product configuration is the sum of its actual functional and physical features. The following classifications regarding the complexity of a configuration are commonly used:
Pick to order / PTO:
Here, individual product components or individual offer positions are selected independently from one another without the support of a product configurator. There are no dependencies, or if there are, the user must take them into account. Because of the simple variant selection, it is primarily a shopping cart feature.
Product examples: washing machines, CDs, electric engines, etc.
Assemble to order / ATO:
Here, individual product components cannot be selected independently from one another. Dependencies controlled by rules must be considered. Thus the product configurator creates a corresponding configuration model displaying the dependencies.
Product examples: doors, motor vehicles, pumps, etc.
Make to order / MTO:
Here, a product results partly from predefined components and partly from only pre-considered components. A large number of combinations is available for an article or a defined component. These products are often referred to as mass-customization.
Product examples: special-purpose machines, machine tools, utility vehicles, etc.
Engineer to order / ETO:
Here, the products are not completely pre-considered. Dependencies to other product areas should be defined via rules. These rules have the highest degree of complexity in ETO. Because the products are very individualized, parameters are used, which are defined in a product configuration. As a result, this product configuration then provides the outline of how the product should be designed according to the customer’s perspective.
Product examples: houses, power plants, plant construction, etc.
According to a survey of the Aberdeen Group in 2008, the best enterprises can show the following results due to using software to configure their product:
- Users of integrated product configurators could increase their product margins up to 80%
- Costs due to ordering errors were around 31,400 USD, with the industrial average being around 823,900 USD
- The best enterprises offer an average of 3.5 times more options in the product configuration than the market average
- There are 20% more enterprises than in the industry average that can precisely calculate the costs already during the quote generation