In a world where user experience is king, configurators wear the crown.

For those unsure: What are configurators?

Configurators are design apps, specifically designed to help consumers build and test out their ideal build or installation. Historically speaking they have been used in the world of architecture for some time, however they made their way to the consumer world a few years ago. This is most notably in two markets - home improvement and automotive.

Configurators are a fantastic way of increasing customer interaction, helping clients make the best possible decisions in choosing their product. Ultimately they have three purposes:

  1. They let customers customise a product to suit their specific needs, making sure they understand whether they can afford you and whether you can help them. This is done in a way that very much puts the ball in the court of the buyer. They are in control and so configurators do not feel like a hard sell.

  2. Configurators speed up the buying cycle. In particular for high value, complex purchases. These tools help customers price up their dream product without having to wait for experts to do home visits and measure up.

  3. They help the business sell high value, complex purchases 24/7. Configurators allow customers to experiment with multitudes of options at a time that suits them. If they want to sort out their perfect door knobs during office hours that is fine, however, if they want to do it at 3am that is also fine.

This month our development team had a look at configurators (and other statistics) for kitchen manufacturers:

Where Ikea have done well, and we would like to point out that we did not design Ikea’s website or configurator, is create a smooth customer journey. It goes from laying out your room, deciding on your products, and then ordering your products for collection or delivery. Although we do not know the statistics for certain, I would hazard a guess that they have a fair conversion rate on that application.

The Ikea app is exciting as it is the next step in home design. Through the Ikea app every aspect of the home can be changed. The measurements of the room can be imported, allowing for precise configuration of furniture. On top of this, the app allows for 2D and 3D views, allowing for us, as customers, to pick precisely what it is that we want.

The Ikea app is incredibly well thought out. The customer can design every part of what they may want to do, and this is how a customer experience should be. It is a fully customisable experience that will vary from customer to customer based on their own needs.

Now, here is the exciting bit. Configurators have a huge amount of potential.

Picture this, and we find this really incredible, a world where configurators can be used commercially for entire homes at once.

Picture this, and we find this really incredible, a world where configurators can be used commercially for entire homes at once.

For companies such as Ikea this is already a realistic possibility, however, imagine it working well for other companies. You may be sat back now, thinking this is all well and good for brands that provide the entire suite of furniture but how can it help companies who specialise purely in kitchens or bathrooms?

The answer is simple - imagine a program where companies are linked - a future where company alliances can help consumers build their perfect layout. This would have huge potential, allowing for cross-site configurators to enable consumers to design their entire home in one go. It would be amazing!

What this would allow is incredible to think about. It allows for housing developers to open up access to their schematics so that brands such as M&S, John Lewis and Ikea can build personalised digital show homes, based on the house you live in! It is an epic idea!

Picture this, not only consumers using apps in order to design their perfect interior, but also designers to showcase their products using an incredible augmented reality. It has private, commercial, and industrial uses.

At present, configurators are a fantastic way for customers to design their ideal product. In the future they could be used to design entire houses. You want a kitchen, fine. You want an entire interior, great. You want a sculpture from John Lewis for the corner? Why not?!

Click here to read about three companies we think have done this fantastically well and are already making headway into the future.