A custom product builder is a personal designer for every visitor to your e-store. It enhances the shopping experience and surely convinces a visitor to make a purchase. If it is possible in a physical store, it should be possible online. In fact it’s even better when you have an online application. A designer can show you the fabric and a draft of the design, but an online application can help you see the final product. With an online product builder, a customer has full control on the design. He can visually see various options, and select the combination he desires.
How does somebody Custom Build a Product online?
Custom building a product is personalizing the product you want to purchase, by selecting the details. There are different ways you can allow a product to be custom built. The simplest example would be a website which allows you to create a custom ensemble. A website like Pandora allows you to create a custom bracelet, which is basically an ensemble of many products, priced individually, but sold as one.
Another example is a site which offers you an option to customize the t-shirts on sale. If you haven’t seen one, try Spreadshirt.com. This is a little different than creating a custom ensemble. It allows the user to edit the placement and size of graphics.
Simple Product Personalization would involve:
Setting a base price for the original product (t-shirt) on sale. The original product would be a simple or variable product, with a category which identifies it as customizable.
Each additional graphic or text, which can be added on the base product, has an additional minimal cost. As and when the user selects the graphics to be added on the t-shirt, he is basically purchasing the graphic.
- The graphic or text would be added as an add-on product type. This would imply, that the graphic cannot be purchased on it’s own, but only as part of the base product.
- It would have categories and tags, to filter graphics.
The customer can edit the placement and size of the graphic and text, add his own images and can purchase the created product.
- The placement of images will be restricted to a defined area
- The cost of the graphic would remain the same irrespective of the final edited size.
To use WooCommerce to create your store, you will need a customization, which allows the created product image to be saved along with the purchase order.
- The product image and graphics added will be saved as Order meta
But what if you wanted a different fabric for your clothes, or a custom sleeve style. Well, the simple customization website has it’s limitations. But there are some other websites which offer even more detailed customizations. A site like Vitruvien or Shoes of Prey offers customization right from the fabric, to the design, accessories, each minor detail.
A detailed Product Customization option, is a little different compared to a simple product customization.
Instead of charging price based on the add-ons for the base product, the designer made product is set at a hefty price, to cover the manufacturing cost. (Although some exclusive add-ons may have additional costs)
You do not need to save the eventual image as part of the order, only the details(such as style of the pockets, buttons selected, etc) can be saved.
Steps to Create a Custom Product Builder
Selecting a Theme and an e-Commerce Plugin: Let start with the basics. A good theme can save you a lot of trouble when creating a good interface for your product builder. About deciding on an e-Commerce plugin. Don’t think much. Opt for WooCommerce.
Setting up your WooCommerce-Store: You need your store ready with a set of products. There can be two kinds of products, one which can be eventually purchased (after customization), and addons (which cannot be purchased individually). For example, a shirt is a purchasable product, but graphics or detailings, are add-ons. Simple Product customization can be offered using Product Add-ons extension or the Composite Products extension, with some modifications of course.
The Product Customization Interface: The way a product customizer works, is that several images are created for a product. The images when placed together eventually represent the product. Images are also created for every customization option. For example, to create a customizable shirt, the shirt has to be broken down into collar, the body, the sleeves, pockets and buttons. When a user selects a customization option, say a different set of buttons, only the image for the buttons will be changed. The challenge is to offer a smooth interface, which masks the fact that the product image is actually a collection of images. Also, because so many images will be involved, you will need a lot of optimization to ensure that the application speed is not affected.
Order Customization: Depending on the customization selections made by the user, the price of the product has to be set. Apart from this, if we want the user to be able to see the customized product image in his purchase order, we need to make a modification for the same. Another feature you can provide, is the option to input measurements for each product to be purchased before checkout. For a logged in customer, this data could be auto filled.
Additional Customization: Using Dynamic Pricing extension for WooCommerce, you can offer different pricing for bulk orders.
Offering customers the option to custom build products is a sure way to boost sales. It’s rarely offered by many websites, mostly because of the manufacturing costs involved. But if you have that set, who is to stop you from offering top of the class shopping options to your store visitors.