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Leading Mass Customization and Personalization: How to profit from service and product customization in e-commerce and beyond


Abstract and Figures

Mass Customization today is seen as a core strategy for successful enterprises. The term denotes an offering that meets the demands of each individual customer. but that can still be produced with mass production efficiency. Current developments such as 3D-printing, smart data or digital production are strengthening this trend. Strategies and examples of mass customization have been widely published in recent years. This publication comprises interviews with 24 selected MC-experts, practitioners and researchers, giving a comprehensive report on success factors.
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1st Edition January 2017
© 2017 by Frank Piller and Dominik Walcher
All rights reserved
Die Mühle - Design Studio Gerhard Buchegger
Think Consult Publishing
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Welcome ........................................................................................................................................
Robert Keane, Cimpress ..................................................................................................
Je Beaver, Zazzle ...............................................................................................................
Stan Davis, Researcher ......................................................................................................
Joseph Pine, Strategic Horizons ................................................................................
Philip Rooke, Spreadshirt ................................................................................................
Sergio Dulio, ATOMLab .....................................................................................................
Claudia Kieserling
& Stefan Thallmaier, Selve .............................................................................................
Dirk Rutschmann, Corpuse.E .......................................................................................
Nikki Kaufman, Normal .....................................................................................................
Vladimir Puhalac &
Torsten B. Lisboa, Doob Group ..................................................................................
Martin Schreier &
Ulrike Kaiser, WU Vienna Marketing ......................................................................
Paul Blazek, cyLEDGE .....................................................................................................
Bill Brine, Cascade Lacrosse .....................................................................................
Anthony Flynn, YouBar ....................................................................................................
Ted Acworth, Artaic .............................................................................................................
Johannes Steuerwald, E-Vers ..................................................................................
Jan-Christoph Goetze, PersonalNOVEL ..........................................................
Brennan Mulligan, Skyou .............................................................................................
Wolfgang Gruel, moovel ...............................................................................................
Arne Ballies, Beneston ....................................................................................................
Fabrizio Salvador, IE Business School ...............................................................
Giovani Da Silveira, University of Calgary ......................................................
Wolfgang Mayrhofer, Atomic ....................................................................................
Carmen Magar, Researcher ........................................................................................
Take Away....................................................................................................................................
the concept of mass customization (MC) has gained increasing relevance
and awareness in recent years. Mass Customization today is seen as a
core strategy for successful enterprises. The term denotes an oering
that meets the demands of each individual customer, but that can still
be mass produced eciently. The core idea of mass customization is to prot from
the fact that most customers are dierent.
Current developments such as 3D-printing, smart data and digital production are
strengthening this trend. Strategies and examples of mass customization have
been widely published in recent years, but no comprehensive report on success
factors illustrated by MC-practitioners can be found. This publication comprises
interviews with 24 selected MC-experts from dierent sectors. This publication
aims to oer the following benets:
We hope the expert insights presented are helpful
for your business and you enjoy reading!
Knowledge of people actively involved in mass customization 
An overview of best practices, but also failures and suggestions for improvement
Insights into the backgrounds and motives of mass-customization practitioners.
Founder & CEO,
Robert Keane founded Cimpress in 1995 to
provide small businesses with everything
they need to market their business. Roberts
vision emerged from his experience with retail
kiosk design and printing systems and from
his knowledge of the small business desktop
publishing software market.Today he leads
Cimpress and its customer facing brands with
a clear purpose: to empower millions of people
around the world to make a tangible, personal
impression. He earned his B.A. from Harvard
and his MBA from INSEAD.
web-to-print expert
house of brands
latest technology
& many patents
World leader in mass customization, helping individuals and businesses all over the
world make an impression with personalized, physical products.
Cimpress empowers people to make tangible impressions with the speed and ease
that they value in a digital world. Small businesses and families turn to Cimpress’
brands for a wide variety of customized products such as printings, logo apparel, promotional
products, invitations, announcements, photo merchandise and signage. Last year Cimpress served
over 16 million customers with over 80 million unique products. Their focus, mass customization, lies
at the intersection of what they are passionate about (empowering people to make an impression),
where they believe they can be the best in the world (computer integrated manufacturing) and how
they make money (large scale in small quantities). Cimpress’ purpose is to make it easy and aor-
dable for their customers to convey thoughts, messages or sentiments that are important to them,
their customers, their organization or their loved ones.
A three-minute example of our commercials is here:
What was the opportunity you recognized
when starting Cimpress?
In 1994, I recognized both a market need
and an opportunity. At that time small busi-
nesses could not aord the same high-
quality, custom-printed products that
big companies enjoyed because of the
long run lengths required to make prin-
ting economically attractive. I realized we
could eliminate our setup costs through
do-it-yourself software and aggregated,
standardized production, even as we gave
the customer greater value because they
could see the printing on their screen be-
fore they ordered it.
Personally, I was motivated by changing
all the rules of printing, an established but
slow-moving industry. For instance, back
then conventional wisdom was that big
customers were better than small custo-
mers, and that suppliers needed to pro-
cess every order in a custom manner, be
it for sales and marketing, price quotation,
design, equipment setup, or customer
service. I was committed to turning these
rules upside down, and giving small custo-
mers much more choice, much lower cost
and much faster delivery than traditional
long-run printing could provide.
12 What do you believe are the two main
success factors behind Cimpress?
Our rst success factor is computer inte-
grated lean manufacturing. We started
growing incredibly fast when, in 1998, we
focused our business model on two ma-
nufacturing concepts that had emerged
in the 1980s, computer integrated manu-
facturing (CIM) and lean manufacturing. At
that time, we envisioned a software sys-
tem that would integrate every step of the
value chain, from browser-based design
creation through to shipment, enabling
frictionless information ow as we strip-
ped out waste, inventory and delay in the
tradition of the Toyota Production System.
Since then, we’ve remained relentless-
ly focused on this vision of one IT sys-
tem to control all aspects of our process,
from “click to doorstep”. We have invested
enormous amounts in software and ma-
nufacturing engineering to build on this
computer integrated lean manufacturing
vision. For instance, our technology and
development budget last year alone ex-
ceeded $180 million. The second driver of
our success is scale. Every time we have
doubled the volume of production in our
systems, we have seen material improve-
ment to quality, product selection, speed
and cost. It is no coincidence that one key
part of the term mass customization is
“mass”, because high volume matters. To-
day we process over 30 million orders per
year, and we are planning for the day when
we process 100 million orders.
What was your biggest mistake?
When I started the business, the very rst
page of the business plan spoke about the
gap in the market oering that left custo-
mer needs unmet, and how we could help
the customer through technology. The en-
tire concept was built on customer centri-
city, technology existed only in service of
the customer. But over time, we lost our
customer focus. This is in part because
mass customization and computer integ-
rated manufacturing were such powerful
tools for us that we became enamored
with them. Nearly everything we did from
2001 to 2010 was focused on perfecting
that original vision. But eventually our
growth started slowing and competitors
began beating us in markets around the
world. Internal engineering and analysis,
CIM and mass customization had seeped
heavily into the culture, pushing aside our
customer focus. We were also focused on
near-term prot maximization, rather than
long-term customer satisfaction. Letting
those objectives crowd out customer-cen-
tricity was by far the biggest mistake of my
entire career. It’s also one I’ve corrected.
Four years ago we made “value to the cus-
tomer” our single biggest priority and we
are gradually bringing our culture back to
its original customer-centric roots.
What is the main advice you give to an
ambitious mass customization
Just do it! Customers need you!
Can you share one of the strategies to win
new customers that worked best for you?
The more we can convey to our customers
the intensely personal and meaningful
nature of what we empower them to do,
the more they connect with our brands. A
great example is Vistaprint’s new commer-
cial, launched recently in North America,
which celebrates the value of building a
small business and illustrates our passion
for helping those businesses. It also intert-
wines images of customized products and
the impact they have. Vistaprint reinforces
the fact that “what you create matters” –
this is a direct communication of the value
of mass customization, expressed in terms
that matter to our customers.
What are your core factors in the
conguration process, also with regard to
providing great customer experience?
For 100% of our revenues, customers place
orders online using automated, self-ser-
vice conguration systems. Core factors in
those processes include instant feedback
loops to the customer, visualization of their
order, and, increasingly, compatibility with
mobile computing device user interface
paradigms. All of those core factors require
that the level of complexity (or simplicity)
be appropriately adjusted depending upon
the capabilities and the objectives of the
customer. Cimpress addresses so many
dierent markets today that we believe we
need multiple conguration systems, each
tailored to the needs of a specic custo-
mer segment. For instance, our, and
brands are targeted at graphic arts profes-
sionals. Our brand tar-
gets family members who want to create
beautiful photo books, and www.Vistaprint.
com is tailored to small business custo-
mers who want to use templates of gra-
phic designs that we provide.
Which trend is inuencing
your business most?
The digitization of everything, or what we
used to call the “digital megatrend”. At rst
we considered this to be a big threat. We
wondered if people would stop using phy-
sical products like yers, business cards,
invitations and the like. But in fact the op-
posite is proving true. The digital mega-
trend is helping our business. What’s mis-
sing from the digital experience is that it
lacks that tangible connection. It lacks the
ability to touch and feel something. Palpa-
ble, physical products resonate with peop-
le in a way that digital media cannot. Appa-
rel decorated with a company’s logo or the
name of a charity builds identication and
aliation in a way that most social networ-
king sites never will. Business cards feel
substantial in a way that Bump can’t repli-
cate. For many, the joy of a newborn baby
merits being shared via a physical birth
announcement. Flyers, brochures and
postcards are substantial, not eeting like
an electronic image. But businesses and
consumers around the world have given
up that tangible connection in exchange
for the speed and exibility of digital com-
Cimpress has changed that for business
and consumers. We have thrived despite
the digital megatrend because we’ve been
able to provide personalized, physical
products with the ease of customization
that people expect in a digital world. Mass
customization, powered by internet based
conguration systems, does just that.
How do you assess the future of mass
customization? Can there be too much of
a good thing?
I think that mass customization will achie-
ve very dierent penetration rates in die-
rent industries depending on how valuable
customization is to the product. In those
markets, where customization denes the
very product itself, there really is not too
much of a good thing.
An extreme example of this is Facebook,
which allows over a billion individuals to
create truly custom expressions and share
their lives with very little cost to reach “units
of one” or a single individual. Facebook is
only interesting because it is customized.
In our industry, we think that mass cus-
tomization remains in its early days. The
value of printing lies in making an impres-
sion on someone with your own, unique
(i.e.,customized) messages. There really is
zero value in having the same printed yer
or sign as other small businesses! And the
focus on very small businesses, who need
very small orders, made the “mass” portion
of mass customization highly relevant. This
gets back to the two aspects of the huge
market need that I got so excited for the
rst time more than 20 years ago. I belie-
ve that small business printing was the rst
market to “go big” in mass customization
because the value of customization is so
inherent in and integral to the very product,
and because small business don’t need
and can’t aord mass production.
Looking forward, I believe we can ap-
ply our mass customization know-how to
many industries, not just small business
printing. We seek out applications that
empower people to make an impression in
small quantities, because in these markets
customization is, once again, central to the
product itself. This search for “inherently
expressive” products has led us into sig-
nage, promotional products, logo apparel,
printing, invitations and announcements,
and photo merchandise.
What is your favorite
mass customized product?
When I was in business school in 1994, I
did a lot of research on the Motorola Ban-
dit project and it remains my favorite mass
customized product and one of the forma-
tive role models that I look to for Cimpress.
The product no longer exists, and this ex-
ample is going to make me sound kind of
old, but the Bandit pager that Motorola
produced at its Boynton Beach, Florida
factory was one of the most forward loo-
king implementations of mass customiza-
tion of all time.
Back in the mid-1980s, the pager market
was becoming extremely competitive,
and Motorola was one of the last standing
American companies in the face of Japa-
nese competition. Motorola responded not
by shipping all of the assembly to Asia but,
instead, by rethinking every aspect of the
value chain. They started with design for
manufacturing, and exibility, allowing for
tens of millions of variations in a lot size of
just one unit. They used what was, at that
time, cutting edge information technology
systems to allow eld sales teams to con-
gure and enter orders from portable PCs.
It was computer integrated manufacturing,
focused on mass customization, at its best.
Robert Keane.
Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer,
Jeff Beaver founded Zazzle together with
his brother Bobby and father Robert while a
student at Stanford University. Jeff worked
side-by-side with Bobby to engineer the entire
Zazzle website. He holds an AB in Economics
from Stanford University. Although he has a
third the number of degrees of his father, he
makes up for it with his innate event planning
prowess, best exemplified by Zazzle's special
events. He's also passionate about running,
cycling, skiing and burritos.
large product
comprehensive design toolkit
inspirations by
company & customers
Custom products from blankets to skateboards, made by you!
Zazzle is a market place where everyone can buy and make anything customized from ping-
pong paddles to poufs. Zazzle's proprietary technology enables individuals, artists, brands,
and makers to create and oer billions of unique products for customers worldwide. Based
in the Bay Area (Redwood City, California), Zazzle is making products-to-order, typically within 24
hours, right in the heart of Silicon Valley. Zazzle's vision is to redene commerce, powered by the
world's imagination.
What was the opportunity you
recognized when starting Zazzle?
When we founded Zazzle, my father,
brother, and I were inspired by Dell and
eBay. We were fascinated by Dell’s ability
to make custom electronics for each cus-
tomer. Back then it was a phenomenon
that completely disrupted the PC market.
The eBay marketplace also appealed to us
as we were Econ majors, so we fully appre-
ciated the business model. The genesis of
Zazzle combined the best of both of those
worlds, as we built a website that enables
mass customization on the back-end and
an ecosystem of designers and customers
on the front-end.
On a personal level, we wanted to build a
business that made real products and had
real margins. Especially in the internet age,
where everything seemed virtual, we wan-
ted to enable physical products that had
real value. It’s hard to beat something that
is made custom, just for you. The Zazzle
marketplace is also all about creativity —
our makers, designers and artists are ma-
king a living doing what they love, which
continues to fuel our passion for the busi-
ness today.
What do you believe are the two main
success factors behind Zazzle?
Simply put, we grew organically because
of our designers and makers.Our business
provides strong economic incentives for
them, so they are motivated to help spread
the word and acquire customers. It’s really
a classic network eect at play. The se-
cond driver has been our continued, deep
investment in technology. We’ve built a
full, proprietary technology stack, from the
upstream visualization to the downstream
order management and automation for
manufacturing. We’ve now begun to extend
this technology outward to external ma-
kers, who can tap into our platform and
oer their own on-demand manufacturing
capabilities to millions of customers glo-
bally. The end result is massive, continually
expanding product breadth for any custo-
mizable product imaginable.
What was your biggest mistake?
When we rst secured venture capital -
nancing, we had to adjust our mindset. We
were so used to being scrappy and never
having a dime of excess capital. So, transi-
tioning from a bootstrapped mentality to a
venture-backed mentality was a signicant
shift. We had to learn how to re-focus our
energies on recruiting, delegating many
responsibilities, and entrusting others with
work that was so dear to our hearts. In ret-
rospect, I chuckle a little at how long it took
for us to adapt to this new chapter - it was
What is the main advice you
give to an ambitious mass
customization entrepreneur?
Always strive to exceed every single
customer’s expectations. Quality is a huge
component, because if you blow people
away with the product, the marketing takes
care of itself. You can grow a lot by word-
of-mouth only. We found that incredibly fast
turnaround was also a huge driver for buil-
ding momentum, as customers generally
expect for custom to take longer - but it
really doesn’t have to - if you adopt lean
methodologies. So, make and ship your items
within 24 hours and you’ll earn customers for
Can you share one of the
strategies that worked best for you
to win new customers?
For Zazzle, it has always been about the
ecosystem. We give people the power to
promote their own products with incen-
tives and tools. Encourage social sharing
and build easy tools for others to do the
marketing for you.
What are your core factors in
the conguration process?
In general, congurators can be over-
whelming and technical. At Zazzle, we’ve
invested deeply in visualization technolo-
gies including computational photography
and photogrammetry, so that customers
can accurately preview the virtual product
before they buy it. Beyond that, remember
that a blank canvas is often overwhelming to
consumers, so provide easy templates as a
starting point. It’s easier to tweak with small
adjustments than create something from
scratch. This is also where employing some
design expertise can be extremely eective.
Which is one trend inuencing
your business most?
Self-expression. We are living in a social
world. Everyone is expressing themselves
on social media, blogs and more, all in the
theme of increasing individuality. Zazzle is
just taking this a step further by enabling
self-expression with physical products!
You don’t have to buy the same ‘ole thing
o the rack anymore. Be yourself.
How do you assess the future of mass
customization? Can there be too much of
a good thing?
I’m a huge believer in the future of mass
customization. The key is distribution. At
Zazzle, we’re creating the infrastructure
of distribution to help mass customizati-
on and small makers be successful. I think
increasingly in the future consumers will
want to know how their products are made
and they will want to buy items that have
soul, crafted just for them, versus mass-
produced items made based on the lowest
common denominator. It’s an inevitability.
Designers and Makers are the key to ma-
king mass customization successful. We
work with hundreds of thousands of de-
signers who provide the options, templa-
tes and artwork that appeal to customers.
We’ve paid out more than $100M in royalty
payments to this global design commu-
nity to date, and that number is growing
fast. For our makers, we are the tip of the
iceberg. Still in beta, our Zazzle Maker
Platform™ has generated more than $50M
for makers on the site, and we’re just getting
What is your favorite mass
customized product?
A personalized triathlon bike.
The bike needs to be truly custom in every
single dimension, in order to optimize the
geometry for your unique body measure-
ments. This is how you can maximize pow-
er, eciency and aerodynamics. On top of
that, getting a customized, slick design is
appropriate for pricing.
Je Beaver.
Researcher & Author
Stan Davis has published 14 books, half
of them about the future. The first half
of his career was as an academic, mainly
at the Harvard Business School and the
second half as an independent author and
lecturer worldwide. Since 2004, he has
been at Harvard Universitys Institute for
Learning in Retirement.
A piece of history: Birth of the
term "mass customization".
Mass customization is a simultaneity of opposites, the mass
production and distribution of customized goods and services.
Stan Davis is a famous business visionary, prominent author, consultant
and public speaker. He coined the term “mass customization” in his
bestseller Future Perfect in 1987. Other remarkable books are: The Art of Business:
Make All Your Work a Work of Art, Future Wealth (with co-editor Chris Meyer), and
It’s Alive: The Convergence of Information, Biology, and Business (with co-editor
Chris Meyer). Furthermore, he has published numerous articles in TIME, Forbes,
Harvard Business Review and other international business magazines. He was also
a long-time advisor to the board of the Massachusetts Medical Society.
What was your motivation to start your
original research in this eld?
I focus on basic abstractions of the econo-
my, such as the simultaneous existence of
mutually contradictory phenomena. Some
examples are:
"I like to ask, What would it take to put the
emphasis on both simultaneously?"
What was your original idea when you
coined the phrase mass customization,
and what has changed today?
The theory behind my original idea has
not changed. New business models have
to overcome either-or dilemmas and deal
with the simultaneity of opposites in busi-
ness. The simultaneity condition says that
we must accept the coexistence of mutu-
ally contradictory phenomena without try-
ing to resolve the contradiction. Enabling
information technologies have increased
so fast that today there are many more op-
portunities for mass customization.
Mass produced
30 Based on your research and
mass customization practice, what
is the main advice you give to an
ambitious mass customization
(MC) entrepreneur?
I’m puzzled by the terms “MC entrepre-
neur”, “MC company” and “MC industry.
One wouldn’t say “M entrepreneur” or “C
industry” as though each were a special
type. Almost every entrepreneur can mass
customize. There is no one “MC industry”
but rather every industry can mass custo-
mize. Nor would I think in terms of an “MC
person” other than people who mass cus-
tomize their products and/or services.
What is the largest mistake mass
customization companies can make
(according to your research)?
I think the concept has lasted, rather than
been a fad that disappeared, because it is
about a fundamental way to reframe things.
The biggest mistake that can be made is to
turn something fundamental into jargon.
How do you assess the future
of mass customization?
Since it seems more fundamental than fad,
the future seems bright. Growth of mass
customization is more likely to spread to
more businesses and more industries than
to continue to endlessly expand within a busi-
ness or industry that already embraces it.
Are there any technological,
economic or social changes that
will aect the mass customization
industry by 2025?
Most businesses in the industrial and in-
formation economies develop out of tech-
nologies whose parent science is physics.
Developments in biotechnology and its
parent science biology are very promising
for mass customization. Genomic techno-
logies, for example, will one day allow the
mass customization of prescription phar-
maceuticals suited to individuals’ specic
What is your favorite mass
customized product?
I’m excited that my grandkids will probably
get mass customized pharmaceuticals.
Stan Davis.
stan davis SAYS:
Author & Management Advisor,
Strategic Horizons LLP
Joseph pine
B. Joseph Pine II is an internationally
acclaimed author, speaker, and manage-
ment advisor to Fortune 500 companies
and entrepreneurial start-ups alike. He
is cofounder of Strategic Horizons LLP.
Among other books, Mr. Pine is the author
of the award-winning Mass Customization:
The New Frontier in Business Competition
and the best-selling The Experience Eco-
nomy: Work Is Theatre & Every Business
a Stage.
This bestseller (1993)
started as a master's
thesis at MIT.
Customers are unique and deserve to get exactly what they want at a price
they are willing to pay. Thus, eciently serve customers uniquely.
Strategic Horizons LLP is a thinking studio dedicated to helping businesses
conceive and design new ways of adding value to their economic oerings.
It helps executives see the world of business dierently through keynote speeches
and workshops, learning excursions and learning encounters, the thinkAbout event,
and public and private experience economy expert certication courses.
What was your motivation to start your
original research in this eld?
While running a program at IBM that
brought customers into the development
process of the AS/400 system, I realized
that every one of those customers was
unique, wanting to use the system in dif-
ferent ways, connect dierent hardware,
load on dierent applications, and so forth.
We had designed it for a general-purpose
minicomputer market that simply did not
exist. Moving into strategic planning, I dis-
covered the solution by reading Stan Davis’
book Future Perfect, where he coined the
term in his chapter “Mass Customizing”.
I worked to get that into our plans and stra-
tegies, and then when IBM sent me to MIT
for a year to get my Master’s degree, I took
the opportunity to study it all I could, using
it as the topic of every possible paper, and
reading voraciously everything on “exibili-
ty and responsiveness” as I dened it back
then. When it came time to write my thesis,
I outlined a full book and got the rst four
chapters done as that thesis. On returning
to IBM, I found a job in the “management
research” function of the IBM Consulting
Group where I could nish the book, which
was published by Harvard Business School
Press in 1993.
36 What are the most important ndings of
your mass customization research?
First, I helped professors Andy Boynton
and Bart Victor extend a framework of
theirs called “The Product-Process Matrix”
(which I and others aectionately call “THE
2x2”). This showed how invention organi-
zations developed new ideas that could
then gain low costs through mass produc-
tion, but that the continuous improvement
business model could beat that by linking
the organization together. Only then could
it embrace mass customization, where
through modularity a stable process could
yield a dynamic ow of customized oe-
rings. But mass customizers must also re-
new their modular architecture by going
back to invention to develop new modu-
les, new capabilities, and new oerings.
With my partner Jim Gilmore, we develo-
ped a framework describing the four types
of customization: collaborative, adaptive,
cosmetic, and transparent. With Don Pep-
pers and Martha Rogers, we discovered
that combining mass customization with
1:1 marketing means companies can culti-
vate “learning relationships” that grow and
deepen with every interaction with indivi-
dual customers. Jim and I dened the con-
cept of “customer sacrice” to determine
where and when companies should best
customize. And, I’ve developed a set of
principles of mass customization that any
company can use to eciently serve cus-
tomers uniquely – the two most important
being digitization and modularity.
Based on your research and mass custo-
mization practice, what is the main advice
you give to an ambitious mass customi-
zation entrepreneur?
Throw o the last vestiges of mass pro-
duction and truly embrace a mass cus-
tomization mindset. Don’t go halfway; go
all in. Recognize there are no markets,
only customers, therefore you must be-
come customer-centric, placing the one
who pays you money at the center of
everything you do. That’s why I recently
wrote a “Mass Customization Manifesto”
to describe in two pages what that mind-
set is in a way that everyone can ascend
to the proposition that, once again, all
customers are unique, and to recognize
that each and every one is the lifeblood
of our business. My intention is to use that
as the outline of a sequel on the subject,
expanding every paragraph of the Mani-
festo into a chapter of a book.
What is the largest mistake mass
customization companies can make?
I’m not sure it’s the largest, but the easi-
est mistake mass customizers make is to
overwhelm their customers with too many
choices. Fundamentally, customers don’t
want choice; they just want exactly what
they want. That’s why having a design tool
is so important. Most customers don’t,
in fact, know what they want, and even if
they did they can’t always articulate it. So
you need a way of drawing their wants and
needs out of them, and then getting
that information back into operations to
do something dierent for that individual
customer. Ideally, this is much more than
a congurator (which must be embedded
within the design tool to ensure you get a
perfect order every time) but include being
able to visually see the mass customized
oering come to life before your eyes. If
you get the customer to experience their
very own customized oering, putting a
part of themselves into the design of that
oering, then the chances they will buy
that oering go way, way up.
How do you assess the future
of mass customization?
The future of mass customization is the
future of business! The era of mass pro-
duction is over. Many companies still mass
produce and some will forever, of course,
but no longer are they leaders to look up to.
As an icon, a role model, a paradigm, mass
production is dead. For no longer do cus-
tomers – whether consumers or busines-
ses – have to sacrice what they really truly
want and need in order to get an oering
they can aord.
There’s a snowball eect where the more
individuals get exactly what they want
from one company, the more they’re going
to demand it from other companies. At the
heart of this sea change (to mix my watery
metaphors) are the smartphones we carry
around with us and the social media we
interact with through our devices. Smart-
phone manufacturers may mass produce
the hardware, but once it is in a customer’s
hands that individual makes the device un-
remittingly unique through their own con-
tacts, own apps, own music, own video,
and so forth. (That’s adaptive, or self-al-
tering, customization.) And social media –
Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, and
on and on the list can go – give everyone
their own individual view of the world, and
personal contribution to the world.
38 Are there any technological,
economic or social changes that
will aect the mass customization
industry by 2025?
All three are happening.
Technologically, the advent of the Internet,
rst, enables companies and millions – bil-
lions! – of individual customers to commu-
nicate nearly costlessly, allowing the dia-
logue necessary for mass customization.
Second, there are many new technologies
that have enabled mass customization in
particular industries, from the single-ply
cutter in apparel to digital oset printing,
and many will continue to be developed.
Third, perhaps the biggest change to
come is of course the democratization of
manufacturing through 3D printing, enab-
ling matter to become as programmable
as bits have been. As costs come down
and ease of design goes up, companies
and people will be able to eciently pro-
duce goods as varied and individual as
there are consumers.
Economically, business competition is the
search for dierentiation, and today com-
moditization is sweeping across the lands-
cape of virtually all industries. That means
goods and services are no longer enough;
what customers (whether consumers or
businesses) want are experiences - me-
morable events that engage each indivi-
dual in an inherently personal way. And as
we enter this new experience economy,
customization turns out to be key. For whe-
re do experiences actually happen? Inside
each individual, in reaction to the events
staged outside. And the best way to enga-
ge individuals is to customize oerings to
them – ideally with them – for customizing
a good automatically turns it into a service,
and customizing a service turns it into an
Socially, the rise of individual expression
through social media is a trend that may le-
vel o (how can it not when virtually every
individual on the entire planet gets online?),
but the desire to express individually, to be
treated individually, to receive oerings
individually will always grow. It’s clear that
privacy will become even more of an issue,
but people overwhelmingly demonstrate
that they are more than willing to provide
information about themselves when it is
used to benet themselves – individually.
What questions are open in mass
customization research?
What are you going to do next?
There’s the beginning of research that
shows that mass customized goods are
more sustainable, but that’s something
that needs to be demonstrated across a
wide variety of industries. More broadly,
we also need to show how mass produced
goods induce vast amounts of economic
waste – for any use of the earth’s resources
(including people’s labor) that does not re-
sult in meeting the needs of an individual
customer is pure waste.
Most mass customization research focu-
ses on physical goods, and we need much
more done on how to mass customize
services and especially experiences. (My
personal view, modularity being the key
to mass customization, is that experiences
should be thought of as bus modularity,
with time as the bus!)
Finally, mass customization is not a pana-
cea, just another development in the histo-
ry of economic progress. In the progression
of business models from invention, mass
production, continuous improvement,
and mass customization, the next step is
a renewal of invention but at a higher le-
vel – call it continuous invention, the con-
stant stream of new-to-the-world oerings
developed, produced, and customized.
To that end, I am working with colleague
Kim C. Korn on how companies can have
as much creative destruction going on in-
side the company as happening outside in
its ecosystem, thus enabling companies to
attain a vitality that lasts. Up to now I have
tended to “threaten” companies with the
inevitability of commoditization; now I rea-
lize there is a fate worse than that – death.
Only by embracing the seven laws of ma-
naging that we’ve developed will compa-
nies avoid mediocrity and eventual failure
to thrive forever.
Is there any question we forgot to ask?
Something you want to say?
After modularity the second most impor-
tant principle of mass customization is di-
gitization, for anything you can digitize you
can customize. Once something enters the
realm of zeroes and ones, you can instan-
taneously (as well as costlessly, friction-
lessly, and seamlessly) change a zero to
one and vice versa. My most recent book,
Innite Possibility: Creating Customer Value
on the Digital Frontier, is all about how to
embrace digitization to create goods, ser-
vices, and experiences that fuse the real
and the virtual. Its core framework extends
the basis of all of our experience in the
known universe, which physicists tell us
is made of the three fundamental dimen-
sions of time, space, and matter; or actual
events, real places, and material substan-
ces to yield the multiverse, incorporating
autonomous events, virtual places, and of
course digital substances. So thanks to di-
gitization we can now mass customize not
only substances, but places and events as
well, allowing us to create new and wond-
rous oerings that have never before been
envisioned, engendered, nor encountered.
Today we are limited only by our imaginati-
on, and of that there is no end.
Joseph Pine.
joseph pine SAYS:
philip rooke
Philip Rooke joined Spreadshirt in 2009. He was first in charge
of the sales and marketing departments, as well as the product
team before, becoming Chief Executive Officer in 2011. During his
time as CEO, he has increased Spreadshirts turnover by 300%.
His career started in newspaper advertising in the 1990s. He led
successful campaigns for publications such as The Guardian,
Good Housekeeping and Cosmopolitan. In 1996, he switched over to
the online media sector where he was in charge of campaigns for
several leading news, sports and TV companies before becoming
CEO of iVillage UK as well as eDiets UK. As a result of a growing
focus on online trading, Phil changed to Tesco Plc - one of the
first e-commerce enterprises at the time, where he became part of its
online management.
intuitively usable design
toolkit supports creation
all functions
at a glance
social commerce allows
users to create shops and
sell custom products
Head of Research & Innovation,
Business Unit,
ATOMLab - Mass Customization & the Footware World
Sergio Dulio studied aerospace engineering
and graduated, magna cum laude, from the
Polytechnic University of Milan. He spent the
first years of his professional career in the
aerospace industry, working in Switzerland and
Italy. In 1984 he joined IBM as a member of the
first technical support team to the 3D CAD/CAM
application CATIA. He continued this experience
in the ICT sector. The end of the eighties (1988)
was when he had his first contact with the
footwear world. He started with the market
introduction of the first families of shoe
specific CAD/CAM applications with the Austrian
company ATOM+VICAM, and then as an expert
in the area of leather cutting as part of the
technical staff of ATOM, one of the leading
companies in the field of shoe machinery.
developing product and
process innovations along
the entire shoe manufactu-
ring pipeline.
claudia kieserling
stefan thallmaier
Founder & CEO,
Selve Managing Director,
fashion editions with
selected labels
style counseling by shoe experts
by appointment at the Munich
workshop or at "trunk shows“
Claudia Kieserling is founder and CEO
of Selve AG. She received training in
professional shoe design at ARA
Shoes AG. Subsequently, she worked in
various executive positions in the German
and Italian footwear design industry.
Based on this professional experience,
she decided to embark on her MBA at
the University of St. Gallen. In 1999, she
founded her own business, Selve AG, to
combine her passion for footwear design
with her vision of mass customization.
Since then, she has become well-known
as an expert for shoe customization in
practice and research.
Stefan Thallmaier graduated from theTechnical
University of Munich with a Master's in Busi-
ness Administration. Subsequently, he worked
as a consultant for several major German
companies in different industries such as
logistics, finance and biotechnology to develop
their customer relationship management (CRM).
Thereafter, he received his PhD in economic
sciences from HHL Leipzig Graduate School of
Management, where he worked as a Research
Associate at the Center for Leading Innovation
and Cooperation (CLIC). In his thesis, he focused
on customer co-design in the mass customiza-
tion industry. Using his insights from research,
he is now Managing Director at Selve AG.
Founder & CEO,
Dirk Rutschmann studied business
administration and information systems
and worked as a research assistant on
adaptable software systems before
he started his entrepreneurial career
by founding corpus.e in 2000. Corpus.e
achieved the largest 3D-body-scanner
network for medical aids ever installed
in the retail business.
Disclaimer: Frank Piller serves on the
Board of Directors of corpus-e.
perfect size and t is a
must in the shoe business
3D scanning stationery
online & mobile
nikki kaufman
Founder & CEO,
Nikki Kaufman is the CEO and founder of
Normal, an innovative brand selling tailor-
made premium 3D-printed earphones that
are manufactured and assembled in New
York City. Nikki is a graduate of Princeton
University and was a founding team member
at consumer product company Quirky, where
she led several departments, including
people & culture and operations.
the store is the factory:
products are 3D-printed
while customers wait.
Doob Group COO
Doob Group
vladimir puhalac
torsten b. lisboa
Frank Piller serves as a non-executive director of Doob Group AG.
advanced 3D-modeling,
visualization and animation
Torsten Bernasco Lisboa studied Interna-
tional Management at Karlsruhe Univer-
sity, Oviedo University, the University for
Economics and Management in Essen and
he studied at the Doctorial Business School
at UCAMFOM. His professional experience
comprises several controlling and reporting
functions at Lufthansa, DHL, Corus, Thales
and Ecolab. As one of the two initiators of
DOOB, he managed the operational transiti-
on in a time of growth. He developed stra-
tegic approaches to managing growth and to
control the dynamics of technology-driven
and worldwide operating businesses.
Vladimir Puhalac started his first own company
during his studies of business administration in
the early 90s. He established one of Germany's
first internet service providers and worked
as a consultant at ERP and FM Company which
he cofounded and where he gained ten years
of work experience in the US, India and the EU.
Since 2010 he has founded several companies in
the 3D-market and developed expertise in industrial
manufacturing of 3D-scanning solutions, 3D-
post processing, virtual reality, augmented re-
ality and 3D-Printing in B2C, B2B and medtech.
WU Vienna Marketing
Assistant Professor,
martin schreier
ulrike kaiser
top management
new value
mass customization
meets consumer
Ulrike Kaiser is an assistant professor at the
Institute for Marketing Management, WU Vien-
na. Prior to this she was an assistant profes-
sor at the Institute for Entrepreneurship and
Innovation, WU Vienna, from where she also
received her doctoral degree. Her research
and teaching interests lie in the fields of
consumer behavior, branding, new products
development and user-centric business models.
Some of her most recent research has fo-
cused on behavioral experiments that explore
consumer-producer relationships (e.g., mass
customization). In this line of research she has
looked at the consequences of self-design on
consumer-brand relationships.
Martin Schreier is Professor of Marketing
and head of the Institute for Marketing
Management, at WU Vienna. Before joining
the WU, he was a tenured associate profes-
sor of marketing at Bocconi University, Milan
(Italy). His teaching and research interests
are anchored in core topics of marketing
research including product and brand manage-
ment, creativity and new product development
and consumer behavior. His recent research
revolves around user-centered ideation
and design (e.g. user design, customization,
crowdsourcing). In this line of research he
is particularly interested in the potential
promises of user-involvement for a firm's
new product development efforts and in the
broader consequences of customer empower-
ment strategies on consumer behavior.
paul blazek
Founder & CEO,
Dr. Paul Blazek is a passionate entrepreneur
who is driven by the curiosity to research
and understand how user needs change the
way products and services are developed and
sold online. He is founder and CEO of cyLEDGE
Media, a leading customization experience
agency, with offices in Austria, Switzerland
and Germany, and co-founder and CVO of the
configurator management system startup
Combeenation. Paul teaches mass customi-
zation at the Lucerne University of Applied
Sciences and Arts, is affiliated researcher at
the RWTH Aachen University, and a founding
member of the International Institute on Mass
Customization and Personalization (IIMCP).
world‘s largest collection
of product congurators
realization of
conguration projects
focus on usability
and social media integration
customization user
experience agency
CyLEDGE Media is the leading customization experience agency and redenes the
way customization concepts and unique digital interfaces are developed.
While maintaining a strict focus on the needs of users and on individual interaction
patterns, cyLEDGE is dedicated to creating innovative communication solutions that
combine function and emotion. cyLEDGE started several unique research projects to ge-
nerate knowledge about upcoming standards and success factors of customer interaction
approaches including the Congurator Database Project, which became the world's largest
collection of web-based product congurators (www.con cyLEDGE
has supported more than 250 companies worldwide in the creation of their online customi-
zation solutions, thus becoming the most experienced agency service provider in this eld.
What was the opportunity you
recognized when starting cyLEDGE?
I have always been interested in under-
standing which mechanisms propel the
human individual and how they are suitab-
le for society and economy. This motivated
me to study economic psychology and fo-
cus on the study of information and com-
munication technologies. During my rst
years in the traditional agencies world, I re-
alized there was a a sort of vacuum. There
was no lack of creative ideas and techno-
logy-driven state-of-art solutions, but the
comprehension of customer needs as well
as the inclusion of the customers' creative
faculties into the entrepreneurial creation
of value were not suciently made use
of. This was technology push instead of
customer integration. Thus, I founded the
digital agency “cyLEDGE Media” as a cus-
tomer-centered sparring partner for com-
panies comprising the whole interaction
and experience value chain – from analy-
sis to realization. When it comes to custo-
mization, the comprehension of customer
needs is decisive.
98 What do you believe are the two main
success factors behind cyLEDGE?
We believe that value-adding agency
work must be based upon research. Con-
sequently, a lot has been invested in re-
search eorts since the foundation of our
company. Results were published and con-
ferences attended. Meanwhile, cyLEDGE
ranks among the leading research-based
digital agencies in Europe. As customiza-
tion thought leaders we are permanently
looking for trends, de-facto standards and
changes in customer behavior. Our Con-
gurator Database for example is the world's
largest collection of web-based customi-
zation tools. Regarding the use of customi-
zation oers, we can see a certain change.
Years ago it was pure curiosity that moti-
vated people to try customized products,
whereas today's customers expect such
oers due to the increase in anity they
aord. Present-day congurators no longer
have to demonstrate the uniqueness of an
oer (e.g., how many million varieties are
possible). Now they must convince with
regard to usability, guidance, visualization
and social connectivity.
The second success factor for cyLEDGE
– and the one that fuels the research – is
the outstanding team of interdisciplina-
ry experts that are driven by the quest to
understand every project in its unique fa-
cets – and to deliver a winning addition
to the wonderful world of customization.
Together we discover, work, celebrate –
when you have a look at our social media
channels you see how many pics we share
of our oce meals eating together (and
also with our clients) adds to the team and
project interaction ow. Discovering work
as a daily experience is a privilege that we
can live.
What is the biggest mistake?
Many companies and mass customization
startups still believe that everything that
is technically feasible is good. This can be
seen in regard to the quantity of options:
“the more, the merrier” is a widespread
credo. The term “paradox of choice” para-
phrases it well: “more” is not always good.
Paradoxically it is “less” that contributes
to customers' satisfaction in many cases.
Customers are confused by too many op-
tions. That leads to increased cognitive
complexity, aggravated orientation and
decision because there are more possibi-
lities to decide wrongly (and regret it af-
terwards). “Mass customization” becomes
“mass confusion”.
What is the main advice you
can give to an ambitious
mass customization entrepreneur?
I support a two-step scheme and call it the
lean customization model:
[1] Understand your customer:
Mass customization providers promise
their customers: “You can form the product
according to your expectations.” To deliver
this promise the company must exactly
understand what the customers need. A
mere technical solution is the wrong ac-
cess. The real customer benet diers
from oer to oer. To recognize it, all kinds
of qualitative and quantitative procedures
can be applied. Experiments are important.
The crucial thing is to collect knowledge
about your customer and use it, that's your
mass customization business.
[2] Optimize:
The strategy is to experiment and put dif-
ferent versions on the market simultane-
ously, in order to nd out the most-favored
variant. From this one, new variants are
developed and so on. In this way a steady
optimization of experimental variants by iti-
neration is taking place.
Employing modern technical means, it
is easy enough to produce variants and
MVPs (minimal viable products).
You should avoid starting too big at all
costs. If a working variant has been found
by experiments, scaling begins. With this
approach to growth hacking (supported by
social media and viral marketing), startups
have low-cost opportunities nowadays.
However, right from the beginning, com-
pany-applied technology must be desig-
ned in a way that is exible and allows up-
scaling. Of course, the solution space must
be developed thoughtfully and a resilient
process design must be found. Yet, cy-
LEDGE focusses on a superior choice na-
vigation. The gathering of customer needs
and the support of customers by means of
the conguration process are essential.
To allow companies to experiment with
lean customization and to get complete
control about the subsequent customer
interaction I cofounded the startup Com-
beenation that oers a highly exible and
aordable SaaS congurator management
System. Now companies have no excuse
not to engage with their customers with
customization oerings and to learn how
to continuously improve and their products
and services.
100 Can you share one of the
strategies that worked best
for you to gain new customers?
Again, it is the perfect recognition of cus-
tomer needs that succeeds. Studies show
that customer loyalty is higher with cus-
tomized products than with commercial
o-the-shelf products. Customers get a
product that meets their needs and their
desire of uniqueness with respect to t,
form and function. The social eect of
being recognized by others for yout self-
made achievements should not be unde-
restimated. Higher customer loyalty leads
to eects like reduced price sensibility and
increased anity as to reselling, upselling,
crossselling and recommendation. In times
of social selling this can be perfectly used
and extended by companies. The content
customer becomes the company's am-
bassador and gains additional customers
by positive word-of-mouth.
This alone is a gigantic potential for star-
tups. Branded companies, however, can
make use of an additional eect. The
brand was established over decades and
provided with a certain image. Customers
build up relationships to brands as they
do to other persons. Major brands are re-
cognized like renowned personalities. By
wearing labels the customer is able to
show their self-image and status in public.
An identication with a social peer-group
and a dierentiation from others are taking
place. This eect is intensied by an indivi-
dualized product such as an Adidas shoe
personalized with your initials. You become
part of a brand. The positive image transfer
eects (known from co-branding) become
What are your core factors in the
conguration process?
On the customer's side, every purchase
is connected with uncertainty. Online
purchases enhance this through lacking
a touch-and-feel experience. Customized
products are mostly excluded from ex-
change. Customer expectations are often
very high, and so is the risk that a custo-
mized product does not correspond with
them. For that reason, building trust during
the conguration process is the central key
to a positive customer experience. Moreo-
ver, a congurator is like a good advisor or
friend. They lead you through the process,
helping to select and make suggestions. At
the same time the handling of a congu-
rator is fun and promotes the impression
of having something accomplished wi-
thout outside help. Man is a social being.
Therefore it is important to be able to learn
from others and "protect“ oneself socially.
This is guaranteed, for instance, if a custo-
mer does not start designing the product
from the very beginning, but builds upon
designs of other customers or testimoni-
als. With the aid of integrated social me-
dia functionalities, friends can be asked for
their opinion or decision support during the
design process.
Which is one technological,
economic or social trend
inuencing your business most?
On the one hand I clearly see individualiza-
tion as a megatrend. Customers increasin-
gly realize that they don't have to consume
standard products, but can design their
own. On the other hand I see the trend to-
wards “digital transformation”. All elds of a
company – from production to customer
care – are digitally crosslinked with each
other. This leads to a tremendous increase
in entrepreneurial exibility and agility and,
consequently, creates the basis for enhan-
ced customer satisfaction.
How do you assess the future
of mass customization?
I think we are only just at the beginning.
Customers want fewer and fewer compro-
mises and increasingly demand adjustable
products and services. MC is also an out-
standing possibility for dierentiation for
companies and thereby a chance against
low-priced products. For the domestic
economy the "move to the market“ must
not be underestimated. One of the main
goals in the online business is to reduce
the "time to buyer“. The modern deman-
ding buyer doesn't want to wait for a pro-
duct on order for weeks. So the production
remigrates from the far east to be closer
the customer. The German mass customi-
zation company "Spreadshirt“, for example,
produces its shirts in Germany.
Where do you see cyLEDGE in 2020?
At present, cyLEDGE still advises compa-
nies how to act in the customization world
properly and how to frame the choice na-
vigation in a need-oriented way. cyLEDGE
often acts as a kind of evangelist announ-
cing something completely new. By 2020,
we expect customization to be more com-
monly known and accepted. The custo-
mers' wish to participate and the chance
to increasingly integrate the consumer
into the operational creation of value will
grow. cyLEDGE aims to contribute to the
customer's consistent integration. The
solution space should not only be crea-
ted for, and playfully be operated by, the
customer, but it should be developable by
the customer himself: from “co-creation”
to “open creation”. That will be the next di-
mension of advice.
What is your favorite
mass customized product?
I'm fascinated by Pieno frontdoors (www. The doors can be designed in-
dividually by the customer as to the three
dimensions "t, form and function“. In so
doing, the state of conguration can be vi-
sualized and recommendations displayed
(e.g., alarm if doors are odd-sized). By up-
loading a picture of a house, the door can
also be projected on its real context as an
additional decision aid. Such a frontdoor in
particular is a nice metaphor for me – it is
a customized entry to my individual world.
Paul Blazek.
paul blazek SAYS:
Founder & CEO,
Cascade Lacrosse
user friendly
design toolkit
all functions
at a glance
visual realism
In 1986, when Bill Brine left his family's
company to start Cascade, he had a vision
for a company that would be driven by world-
class product development, production and
service. Cascade, striving to be at the leading
edge of design and safety, devotes substan-
tial resources to research and development.
Cooperating with scientists and doctors helps
to understand impact attenuation and how
it applies to brain and eye injuries. Cascade
produces its products in Liverpool, NY, at the
company headquarters, and ships all orders
within a day or two.
anthony flynn
Founder & CEO,
Anthony Flynn is the CEO of YouBar, Inc. and
the author of the New York Times bestseller
Custom Nation. As the CEO and founder of Los
Angeles-based YouBar Anthony produces and
distributes the custom private-label nutri-
tion bar brands for many of America's most
well-known diet book authors and fitness
celebrities and creates custom-made nutrition
bars for retail clients. He started YouBar in
2006 after graduating from the University of
Southern California with a business degree. As
an expert of customization in the food indust-
ry he has been invited to speak at some of the
world's leading universities including MIT, USC,
UC Berkeley and UCLA.
build your own
nutrition bars or
buy standard
products or
start your social
commerce business
supports the
process by
giving deeper
ted acworth
Founder & CEO,
Dr. Ted Acworth founded Artaic LLC, a provider
of "mass customized" artistic tile mosaics for
the $76B global tile market. Artaic's innovative
design software and robotic manufacturing
systems enable the creation of unique tile
solutions with short lead times and exceptional
value for customers such as Sheraton, Marri-
ott, Hyatt, Tropicana, Legal Sea Foods, MIT and
The Home Depot.
transform your idea into a
custom mosaic design
tile selection
based on design software
and robotic production
Founder & CEO,
Johannes Steuerwald is the founder of
e-vers. From 1989 to 1994 he gained work
experience in sales and product manage-
ment of footware at Adidas. Subsequently
he worked in business development at
Freudenberg KG launching the GEOX brand
in the market, before he founded his first
company, Creo GmbH in 1998. Later he held
management positions in a number of other
sports goods brands.
racing bike shoes
functional customization
with made to measure
3D visualization
5 step process
1 – foot scan
2 - try on
3 - order
4 - production
5 - pickup
Founder & CEO,
Jan-Christoph Goetze is an architect by
education, holding a B.Arch degree from
Dortmund University and an M.Arch from
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, with minors
in real estate and entrepreneurship. After
graduating in 1997, he moved to Chicago
to join Helmut Jahn (a German-American
architect), where he stayed until 2003 with a
few breaks. As he saw his big chance on the
horizon, he quit and executed the long awai-
ted return to Germany for good and worked
on founding his own company.
indication of naming
frequency shows
importance of
conguration process
supported by visualizations
extending freedom
of choice by oering
dierent font options
Founder & CEO,
Brennan Mulligan, a UC Berkeley graduate,
joined Timbuk2 Designs in 1993, becoming a
pioneer in mass customizable bags and packs.
He sold Timbuk2 in 2002, and he co-founded
Confego, enabling global brands such as NikeiD
and Reebok to scale their mass customization
businesses. Confego was acquired by Zazzle
in 2007. In 2008, he founded MiFaktory, deve-
loping mass customization software for global
brands such as Reebok and Adidas. He recently
launched Skyou, (skyoo), a new mass customi-
zation platform for social influencers.
customers design, SKYOU
manages e-commerce,
production & shipping
process guidance by
activity lists & process
steps overview
Wolfgang Gruels work is dedicated to urban mobility and
innovation. His research focuses on mobility systems that
make use of new technologies like intermodal trip planners
or self-driving cars. He created mobility solutions for Daim-
ler that have significantly changed the mobility behavior of
city dwellers. He helped build up car2Go, car2gether and the
mobility platform moovel. Wolfgang was part of Daimlers
Business Innovation Department a team designated to the
goal of fostering entrepreneurship within the company and
evolving innovative ideas to emerging businesses. Wolfgang
has also worked as an IT professional and consultant for
companies, such as Canon, Kodak, Philips and Siemens. As
an entrepreneur, he has founded several companies in the
areas of e-commerce and communications. He holds a Ph.D.
in Innovation Management from the RWTH Aachen Univer-
sity, a Masters Degree in Information Systems and also
graduated in Business Administration. For his Ph.D. disser-
tation on Open Innovation and individual Absorptive Capaci-
ty, he received the ISPIM Dissertation Award.
arne ballies
hospital application helps optimizing
individual inpatient processes
Dynamic Pathways
Arne Ballies studied business administration and
holds further degrees in health economics and a
master of business administration in healthcare
from the European Business School.
In the context of his PhD research, he focuses
on the individuality of inpatients diagnoses and
the possibilities of individual hospital treatment.
His professional experience comprises periods at
KPMG Consulting, Siemens Healthcare Consulting
and RHÖN Klinikum AG.
IE Business School
Fabrizio Salvador is professor of opera-
tions management at IE Business School. He
is also a founding member of the MIT Smart
Customization Group, adjunct professor
at the MIT-Zaragoza Logistics Program
and serves as senior scientific advisor for
the IE Foundation. Dr. Salvador has been
visiting professor at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology as well as adjunct
Faculty Research Associate at Arizona
State University. He received a Ph.D in
operations management from the Universi-
ty of Padova, where he also graduated in
industrial engineering.
top innovation magazine
identies the 3
key drivers of mass
Professor at University of Calgary
Giovani J.C. da Silveira is a Professor of
Operations and Supply Chain Management at
the Haskayne School of Business, Universi-
ty of Calgary. He is an expert in operations
strategy, mass customization, and supply
chain management. His research has been
published in leading scholarly journals, and
received more than 2,000 citations to date
in Google Scholar. He co-edited with Flavio
Fogliatto the book mass customization:
Engineering and Managing Global Operations
published by Springe, London.
one of the most cited
articles about mass
top management science
and operations research
General Manager,
Born in Lower Austria in 1960, Wolfgang
Mayrhofer started his career with sales
promotion for Atomic in 1985. He then beca-
me Sales Manager at Atomic Austria. After
that he worked approx. ten years for Amer
Sports, first as a Regional Manager for Zone
Central, then as a Country Manager for
Austria, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and
Hungary. In 2004, he became VP Sales &
Marketing at Atomic Global. Since 2007 he
has worked as General Manager at Atomic.
realistic visualization
design toolkit with many
features & inspirations
save for later continuation,
share to show your friends
Expert on customization
Carmen Magar has supported companies via
expansion into new markets and geographies
as well as by helping consumer companies
embrace digital technology across channels.
At Canary, she is in an expansion and execution
focused role. In the past, she expanded the
chocolate startup Chocri from Germany to the
US, then joined McKinsey to focus on digital
enablement of larger corporations, consul-
ting primarily consumer-oriented companies
on growth strategies supported by digital
technologies. At American Eagle, as part of
the Corporate Strategy team, she worked with
executive leadership to define the interna-
tional expansion strategy, assess market
opportunities, and plan market entries with an
omnichannel mindset.
excellent overview of
technologies driving mass
customization and prot
M ass customization today is accessible to all thanks to emerging technology.
Carmen Magar rst became interested in mass customization when she
discovered the custom chocolate bar company Chocri several years ago,
whose US business she subsequently expanded. The dierence in the
prevalence of customization between the US and Germany has fascinated her as a
manager and consultant since then.
What was your motivation
to do work in this eld?
I think the notion of mass customization
is extremely compelling. It promises the
personalization and individualization that
only craftsmanship was historically able
to provide at a high cost but now is acces-
sible to all thanks to the eciencies of mo-
dern production.
What are success factors of
mass customization companies?
There are three guidelines
successful mass customization
companies take into account:
[1] They choose the product they oer
for customization wisely.
[2] They choose the components of the
product that can be customized wisely
(e.g., inherent value drivers of the product
vs. cosmetic elements) based on what ac-
tually matters to the consumer.
[3] They employ the latest technology and
processes to bring eciency into the
customization process.
A best practice company is Shoes of Prey.
What they’ve done super well:
a) Great visualization of the nal shoe online,
b) High eciency leading to reasonable pricing,
c) They’ve moved into retail with depart-
ment store partners (David Jones in Aus-
tralia and Nordstrom in the US) providing
customers with a hands-on experience of the
elements of their future dream of a shoe.
What has to be avoided?
Mass customization has inherent comple-
xity, and it is important that that complexity
is contained in a smart way. As soon as you
get e.g., individual consultations with cus-
tomers for every product or signicantly
more labor-intensive production methods
(easy to slide into), you lose the “mass” of
mass customization and won’t be able to
provide as much value for the company
nor the customer.
On the customer experience side, it’s
important to factor in the “transaction costs
that arise from creating the product for the
consumer. If the design-your-own process
is considered fun, then that’s a value. If it’s
cumbersome, then that’s a cost that one
could even put a dollar value on, which in
eect increases the “price” to the consumer.
What are your most
important ndings for mass
customization practice?
From my experience, here are three things
to really think hard about:
[1] Where is the actual value for the con-
sumer (or the customer in B2B scenarios)?
For custom chocolate, for example, is it the
taste of a particular combination of ingre-
dients, or is it the sweet thought of having
created a chocolate bar with someone’s
preferences in mind as a guest? Pick a pri-
mary value and maximize that value for the
consumer or customer.
[2] How can you continue to push the
envelope of eciency? Mass customizati-
on lives from a decreasing delta between
the cost of a mass-produced good and
the good of a fully custom good produ-
ced by a craftsman. How close to mass
production can you get? When you’re the-
re, how can you get even closer to the cost
of mass production (and the speed!)?
[3] What are the “hidden costs” to you and
the consumer? For example, a “hidden
cost” to you might be that you need dif-
ferent distribution channels to make eco-
nomics work, or to raise awareness as a
startup, more so than an established brand
would need to (NikeID lives very well on
the sideline of an existing Nike product). A
“hidden cost” to a consumer would be the
risk they take that their combination of dark
chocolate with strawberries and chilli pep-
per might not be the best taste. How can
you minimize that cost? (E.g., by recom-
mending great taste combinations).
How do you assess the future
of mass customization?
I used to think this would be a revolution,
but have since learned that this will be
a slow evolution. There continues to be
technology that increases the eciency of
mass customization (both in the gathering
of preferences and in serving those pre-
ferences). With the development of those
technologies, more and more products will
become customized. This might not be as
big of a change. It might feel like Invisalign,
a company personalizing invisible align-
ment devices for teeth for years suc-
cessfully, without a dentist calling it “mass
customization”. The world is becoming
more and more personalized digitally, so
consumers might one day wake up to a
world where their physical lives have be-
come a lot more customized as well, wit-
hout having had a big disruption.
What changes aecting the
mass customization industry have
you recognized over the last years?
I’ve previously written about seven tech-
nological changes that I believe will really
bring mass customization forward:
[1] Social technologies: As a means for
companies to better understand consumer
preferences and need for individualization,
as well as a better way to enable the mar-
keting of a long tail of individual creations.
[2] Online interactive product congurators:
A lot of work has been done in the past in
productizing software that lets companies
buy congurators out-of-the-box, such as
those from Citizen Made.
[3] 3D scanning and modeling: The cost of
those technologies has come down drama-
tically allowing e.g., for quick virtual creation
of a dress that would sit perfectly on your hips.
[4] Recommendation engines: More
sophisticated articial intelligence that
helps consumers gure out what option
they want when they’re stumped by the
explosion of choice that mass customiza-
tion provides.
[5] Smart algorithms for dynamic pricing:
Pricing that responds to demand of speci-
c conguration components, such as the
salami on a pizza that is more expensive to
place than extra cheese.
[6] Enterprise and production software:
Smarter ERP and SCM that translates indivi-
dual orders into production orders that are
as easy and as standardized as possible.
[7] Flexible production systems: E.g. 3D
printing or computer guided cutters that
don’t care that one product is completely
dierent from the other.
Tell us one service or product
that should be customizable.
An oldie but goodie is custom wedding
dresses. The majority of wedding dresses
are custom, yet the majority are still produ-
ced at the “ineciency” of craftsmanship.
Maybe it’s tradition, but the question re-
mains: Why is there no online congurator
and automated production of the perfect
wedding dress?
Carmen Magar.
carmen magar SAYS:
FRANK piller &
dominik walcher
Dominik Walcher
Professor of Marketing and Innovation
Management, Salzburg University of
Applied Sciences
Frank Piller
Professor of Technology and Innovation
Management, RWTH Aachen University
teaching or Karaoke?
powerful gesture
What was your take-away from the con-
versations with the MC pioneers talking to
us for this book?
I was conrmed in my way to answer the
question “how do we start to build a suc-
cessful MC business?” asked regularly by
companies and startups. My advice is: do
not oer customization merely due to the
fact it is technically possible. Identify what
people really need! What are the real cus-
tomer problems? What is the value propo-
sition? Why do we really need MC? Do not
ask how the customer imagines their future
car. Ask, what are your problems with your
current car or – addressing the customer
value of a car more generally – what is your
problem with mobility? I like what Ted Ac-
worth (Artaic) said: gure out and prove your
customer customization value proposition!
Frank, you have studied MC now
for 20 years. So, what are the main com-
petences MC companies have to obtain
to realize prot opportunities?
I see three fundamental capabilities de-
termining a rm‘s ability to protably oer
mass customization: solution space de-
velopment, robust process design, and
choice navigation. First and foremost, a
company seeking to adopt mass custo-
mization has to be able to understand
what the idiosyncratic needs of its custo-
mers are. Once this is understood, the rm
knows what is needed to properly cover
the needs of its customers. It can draw up
the “boundaries of its playground”, clearly
dening what it is going to oer and what it
is not - the rm’s solution space is dened.
The second critical requirement is related
to the relative performance of the value
chain. Specically, it is crucial that the in-
creased variability in customers’ require-
ments does not lead to signicant deteri-
oration in the rm’s operations and supply
chain. This can be achieved through robust
process design - dened as the capability
to reuse or re-combine existing organiza-
tional and value chain resources to fulll
dierentiated customers‘ needs.
Finally, the rm must be able to support
customers in identifying their own prob-
lems and solutions, while minimizing com-
plexity and burden of choice. Therefore,
the third requirement needed to ensure
successful adoption of mass customization
is the organizational capability to simplify
the navigation of the company’s product
assortment - it is called choice navigation.
And what is your take-away, Dominik?
Actually, I have three key take-aways: rst,
simplicity rules! When a customer is ex-
posed to too many choices, the cognitive
cost of evaluation can easily outweigh the
increased utility of having more choices.
Several experts conrm this “paradox of
choice” based on experiences of their daily
business. My learning is to better start with
a selected number of choice options and
tentatively enlarge it. I join Adrian Carney
(Adidas) stating “ask simple questions” as
well as Bill Brine (Cascade Lacrosse) clai-
ming “make it easy for the customer and
they will buy”. Second, guide your custo-
mers or support your customers guiding
each other. Paul Blazek (cyLEDGE) men-
tions the importance of visualization during
the conguration process. This and other
elements, such as deeper product infor-
mation, design suggestions or “social proof
hints”, like “bestseller”, are corporate help
tools. Exchange and guidance between
customers has risen substantially within
the last years, which leads me to my third
point: smart exploitation of social media.
The possibilities for people to connect with
each other or for companies to connect
with customers are almost unlimited. Suc-
cessful companies outsource signicant
tasks, such as guidance or mutual help, to
customers, creating a “positive community”.
And, what do you think about the future?
You focused recently on service customi-
zation, e.g., in tourism, banking, or health-
care. What is dierent in these sectors?
First, let me say that we really should care
more about services. In western countries
more than 75% of the value creation goes
back on services. On the one hand we
have “pure” service provides such as hos-
pitals. Arne Ballies (Beneston) claims, that
due to the special characteristics customer
integration is per se a fundamental pillar of
services. In the context of healthcare mass
customization helps to raise the treatment
/ life quality of patients without blowing up
costs. On the other hand we experience
dramatic developments in the eld of “pro-
duct service systems”. What we academi-
cally called “hybrid products” some ye-
ars ago has evolved to ubiquitous “smart
products” and the “internet of things” – the
enrichment of products with web-based
services. Wolfgang Gruel, working for car
manufacturer Daimler, promotes Moovel’s
“customized mobility”. Such services are
seen as future of long-standing compa-
nies. Dierentiation is pursued by superior
user experience…
… and this is not only true for services. I see a
development of mass customization bey-
ond its stigma as a “zeitgeisty e-commer-
ce phenomenon”. User experience is the
core element in traditional retail. Brick and
mortar lives on “touch and feel”. Brennan
Mulligan (Skyou) for instance emphasizes:
“People need to see something physical.
In this manner, Nikki Kaufman (Normal)
has created an impressive physical servi-
cescape for her customized earphones.
Customization is touchable and the retail
process is experientially designed. Today,
where traditional retail is being killed by e-
commerce giants, I see customization as a
promising instrument to bring people back
to physical shops oering not only neces-
sary products but vital experiences.
I agree that it looks like the age of MC has
just started. What other future trends do
you see inuencing the customization in-
I need to mention 3D printing. There is no
week without news about innovative ma-
chines, procedures, materials and appli-
cations. Talking about interactive value
creation the customer is no longer only a
co-producer but a complete self-produ-
cer. Standard assortment (short tail) was
complemented and amplied by customi-
zation. Long tail strategies, oering myriad
niche-products, came into existence and
survived. Thinking beyond: 3D printing is
the base for the “all tail strategy”.
Dominik Walcher
Professor of Marketing and Innovation Management,
Salzburg University of Applied Sciences
Frank Piller
Professor of Technology and Innovation
Management, RWTH Aachen University
Mass customization today is seen as a core strategy for successful
enterprises. The term denotes an oering that meets the demands
of each individual customer, but that can still be produced with mass
production eciency.
Current developments such as 3D-printing, smart data or digital production
are strengthening this trend. Strategies and examples of mass customization
have been widely published in recent years. This publication comprises in-
terviews with 24 selected MC-experts, practitioners and researchers, giving a
comprehensive report on success factors.
... In such situations, the cognitive complexity can increasingly grow, and customers can experience confusion when facing attractive but excessive options, leading to the "mass confusion" paradigm (Huffman and Kahn 1998a;Chen and Wang 2010;Piller and Walcher 2017). That evidences the importance of helping customers to make their choices during the product customization process. ...
... The lack of customers' knowledge in product features together with the large number of choices available tend to lead customers to the "mass confusion" paradigm, in which they become lost in the wide set of choices and cannot identify what they really want (Piller and Walcher 2017). In other words, MC is not about offering wide and limitless alternatives, instead, it is more about offering a limited but assertive set of options according to real customer needs (Piller and Walcher 2017). ...
... The lack of customers' knowledge in product features together with the large number of choices available tend to lead customers to the "mass confusion" paradigm, in which they become lost in the wide set of choices and cannot identify what they really want (Piller and Walcher 2017). In other words, MC is not about offering wide and limitless alternatives, instead, it is more about offering a limited but assertive set of options according to real customer needs (Piller and Walcher 2017). ...
Full-text available
Reconfigurable Manufacturing Systems (RMS) emerged from companies’ needs to increase their responsiveness to an uncertain market, in which customers are increasingly demanding mass-customised products. Companies focused on mass customisation mainly use the modular product design strategy to cost-effectively provide a large product variety. Hence, coupling the modular product design with the manufacturing in RMS seems to be a good strategy to effectively provide mass-customised products with lower costs. This work proposes a 0-1 nonlinear integer programming model to jointly optimize the modular product configuration and RMS configuration, which includes the process planning and layout design, for minimizing the total cost of manufacturing products driven by specific customer requirements in mass customization contexts. The costs include raw material, operations, material handling, and reconfiguration of machines and layout. The mathematical model is validated through an exact approach. The analysis carried out confirms the RMS configuration impact on the optimal product choice and its total cost. Two solution approaches based on an evolutionary algorithm are proposed and validated with the exact one. Two case studies are suggested to illustrate the ability of proposed approaches to minimize the total cost of concurrently selecting the product and RMS configurations for mid-size problems with relatively low computation time while ensuring all customer requirements satisfaction.
... In such situations, the cognitive complexity can increasingly grow, and customers can experience confusion when facing attractive but excessive options, leading to the "mass confusion" paradigm [5,6,7]. That evidences the importance of helping customers to make their choices during the product customization process. ...
... There are several benefits associated with the use of product configuration systems, such as increasing customer satisfaction and the quality of product specifications as well as the product profitability, but also reducing lead times and routine work [28]. It is no wonder that several companies selling masscustomized products have invested in product configuration systems, such as Dell, Cisco Systems, Rebook, and Nike [7,29]. ...
... Although product configurators allow customers to contribute into value creation, configuring customized products through these toolkits is one of the main drivers for complexity from customers' perspective due to the knowledge gap between companies and customers [6,30]. The large set of choices and the unfamiliarity of the customer with the product features can lead to the paradox of choice in mass customization, also known as "mass confusion" [5,7]. Too many options can lead the customer to indecision and, therefore, in many cases, dissatisfaction [7]. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Mass customization is currently a reality. It requires industries to rethink their product design to develop modular products and new approaches and tools for product configuration. Its main tool is a product configurator that should allow combining different product modules to satisfy individual customer needs. It impacts not only customer satisfaction but also manufacturing costs. The challenge is to propose an efficient product configurator allowing product configuration with highest customer satisfaction while ensuring production feasibility and efficiency. This paper proposes an integrated product configuration and process planning configurator that satisfies customer requirements while minimizing overall manufacturing costs. The configurator is attribute-based, hence instead of customer choosing a product variant to customize, she/he chooses required functions and the configurator chooses the most suited product variant to be customized. A demonstrator is developed and its preliminary testing results are presented.
... We are a digital world and new technologies not only bring one innovation to supersede another, either in product design or in manufacturing processes but also have an indirect influence which has affected product choice (Piller and Walcher, 2017). The digital existence is forever changing, and design functions and forms evolve. ...
Full-text available
Product redesign is almost ubiquitous across industries. However, for brands with a heritage, this approach often encompasses revisiting past successes to rejuvenate them. It aims at retaining the perceived value whilst addressing innovation. This paper introduces rejuvenation as a specific approach in redesigning. This approach requires brands to analyse design classics, develop a strategic approach to innovation and interpret form-related characteristics into a set of new design principles. The research analyses existing case studies in the automotive and portable electronics industries, to clarify the positioning regarding innovation and the methods of interpreting form characteristics in light of new requirements, new technology and new contexts of use. The paper argues that rejuvenation can support brands in continuing or regaining their status quo in the industry when technical, aesthetic, social and economic perspectives are consistently considered across the design process.
... Globalisation has forced companies to become more agile and responsive to a large diversity of demands coming out of customers from different world locations with distinct habits and cultures (Koren 2010). To survive in this heterogeneous and uncertain market, companies have invested in the mass customisation (MC) strategy, aiming to attain individual customer requirements through costeffective production of customised goods (Pine 1993;Piller and Walcher 2017). MC is everywhere, including the automotive industry such as BMW, where customers can choose their preferred car features such as the engine, rims, etc. as well as the footwear industry, such as Nike, which allows customers to change the colour of each part of the shoes and to add a customised text. ...
Reconfigurable Manufacturing Systems (RMS) emerged from companies’ needs to increase their responsiveness to an uncertain market, in which customers are increasingly demanding mass-customised products. Companies focused on mass customisation mainly use the modular product design (MPD) strategy to cost-effectively provide a large product variety. Hence, coupling the MPD with the manufacturing in RMS seems to be a good strategy to effectively provide mass-customised products with lower costs. However, few papers have concurrently optimised the modular products’ and RMS’s configurations for that end. Further, very few papers have explored the RMS’s layout configuration. In order to fill these gaps, this paper proposes a Nonlinear Integer Programming model that integrates the configuration of modular products and RMS, driven by individual customer requirements, to minimise manufacturing costs of mass-customised products. An approach combining a Modified Brute-Force Algorithm (MBFA) and a genetic algorithm (GA) is proposed and compared with a CPLEX-based approach for a small-sized problem, proving its ability to find an optimal solution in lower computation time. An illustrative example of modular smartphones confirms the MBFA-GA’s ability to solve medium/large-sized problems in a reasonable amount of time while ensuring an optimal product configuration that meets customer requirements.
... Of course, the emergence of a cross-border market is a new opportunity for a company if it can fully mobilize its high-quality resources to occupy a piece of land in the overseas market. However, if the enterprise lacks resources and has no overseas advantages, the enterprise may face threats [18]. ...
Full-text available
With the development of science and technology and the extension of online users, e-commerce platforms gradually and effectively gather social resources such as manpower, technology, production, and capital. More and more traditional enterprises combine online and offline business as their operation and trade methods. E-commerce, as a new channel, has become one of the main transaction modes in the society. Under the background of reform of the supply side, and with the high-speed development of E-commerce, we will promote stock adjustment through incremental reform and optimize the structure of investment and financing in the process of increasing investment of e-commerce enterprises. High-quality products and diverse trading experience are the new development pattern in e-commerce. There are different profit maximization strategies for e-commerce enterprises when they face different economic situations. Besides, cross-border business is an advised way to expand business when the enterprise is under bigger profit. Via all these methods, e-commerce enterprise can help to optimize the structure of industries, circulation, and consumption and promote resource integration and optimization, and people’s living standards will be further improved. Finally, the e-commerce enterprise profit maximization will come true.
... In order to develop a reference framework, existing MC literature reviews have been meta-reviewed [2, [50][51][52][53][54]. This framework is used and extended towards aftersales in the following section 5. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
A common description of Mass Customization is offering individual, customer-specific product variants with mass production efficiency which targets both at manufacturing and distribution. In order to do so, defined degrees of freedom are introduced into a product model or portfolio which are restricted by choices and decisions a customer makes in a co-design process, e.g. in a product configuration system. Although customization itself is already a value proposition, businesses feel the need to further differentiate from their competitors so that accompanying services, such as in the area of after-sales, become more important. In the present paper, the question is raised how after-sales can be integrated into a MC offering and which concepts and tools are beneficial for this purpose. Therefore, current topics in after-sales, like e.g. predictive maintenance and service assistant systems, are related to the three MC key competences choice navigation, solution space development and robust process design.
... Mass Customization is known as an umbrella for different business models that allow for individualization of products and services while being as cost-effective as mass production [1][2][3][4]. Successful mass customization depends on mastering three key competences, which are choice navigation, solution space development and robust process design, for which different implementation guidelines exist [5,6]. The first and second are often mapped into product configuration or design automation systems that use techniques of knowledge-based engineering (KBE) and aim at specifying or co-designing a product variant [7][8][9]. ...
Conference Paper
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Choice navigation, solution space development and robust process design are the three mass customization key competences. The first and second are often mapped into product configuration or design automation systems and aim at specifying or co-designing a suitable product variant. Robust process design targets at managing a well-known but flexible supply network. As part of this, the portfolio of capabilities describes limitations to the solution space and is a valuable source of knowledge containing general design guidelines and specific manufacturing restrictions, like NC travelling distances, as well as availabilities of whole production processes. This article contributes a modeling approach that bridges solutions space development and modeling the portfolio of capabilities. Therefore, a knowledge-based engineering system is extended by a capability model of according production machines that allows to automatically check new product variants against the portfolio of capabilities and to estimate setup efforts and expenses of process changes.
... The use of e-commerce encourages companies to invent new ways of creating additional value. This results in customized and specialized goods and services which are a better fit for the emerging needs of the customers (Piller and Walcher, 2017). Over 70 percent of American consumers expect personalization from online businesses, including having their own account that records past purchases, checkout information, and personalized emails (Wertz, 2017). ...
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In the digital age of architecture, parametric design plays an essential role in the generative process of architectural design. The most important benefits of parametric design are having the visual representation of the design process, enabling the interaction of user during the generation of parametric model using visual digital codes, the representation of design steps sequentially and logically, and also the possibility to adapt the design model according to the customer's requirements and the designer's desires generating alternative design solutions for the same model. A parametric typology is an approach that combines typological design and computational parametric techniques to produce a variety of designs belonging to a specific building type. It facilitates the customization in housing design. The parametric typological design allows diversity, variation, and individualisation just as easily as the mass-standardized production. This research investigates the customization of housing components to satisfy the customer's needs. The research reviewed many previous studies that adopted the parametric typological approach in architectural design, ranging from general to specific studies. Accordingly, the research problem has been identified as the lack of a clear perception about the parametric typological approach that is customizable, to be applied in the design of single-family housing within a local residential complex in Mosul city. The research aim is to apply the parametric typological approach in the generation of customizable single-family housing designs in response to the customer's choices. To achieve the aim, the research methodology was to build a theoretical framework for the customization using parametric typological approach, The framework included three components that define the stages of the parametric typological design and the sequence of steps, the implementation of customization in the parametric typological design, and the computerized parametric techniques used in the application of customization. Later, some of the framework’s components were applied to generate new typological designs belong to a local project of single-family housing to meet various requirements of customers. The results of the study show the efficiency of applying customization in the parametric typological design process. The proposed algorithm proved its effectiveness in generating wide range of design alternatives. From six original design prototypes of Ain Aliraq Housing project in Mosul, the study generated 96 varied prototype plans for the ground floor, 1920 prototype plans for the first floor, and 069 three-dimensional facades. All design alternatives were generated from a single parametric model implemented in Grasshopper for Rhino without the use of ready-made software. The user interface presented in this study simplifies the design process for the customer. Where the process of selecting parameters is sequential and having the possibility of backtracking.
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Digital printing in wood industry. The article presents modern techniques for surface finishing of wood-based panels, including the dynamically developing digital printing technology. The basic technological factors affecting the result of the digital printing process are discussed, and advantages and disadvantages of different types of this technology are presented.
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