10 reasons many ecommerce platforms fail when it comes to custom products. In random order:
1. As a practical matter it is impossible to represent all the permutations of a product in the product database. If there were 6 configuration options, each with 10 different colors, this would represent 10*10*10*10*10=1,000,000 different products. Now imagine you offer 10 different configurable products. Many ecommerce platforms cannot handle this large a catalog. Even if it can, this number of redundant products would make managing the catalog highly inefficient.
2. The configuration of the ordered product has to be stored in the order management system and associated with a specific order, which many systems are not able to do.
3. Many platforms are not able to charge a variable price based upon configuration options. For example, adding your name to a pair of RbkCustom shoes costs more.
4. Ecommerce platforms are not prepared for product components to go out of stock. For example, when you are manufacturing items custom you could run out of the red material for the side stripe. Ecommerce platforms expect inventory to be handled on a SKU level.
5. At least one custom image usually needs to stored with each configured product that is ordered. The ecom system needs to allow these images or URL’s pointing to them to be stored with each order.
6. The ecom system needs to be able to send the order to the manufacturing system. The manufacturing system is usually a different system than their standard order fulfillment system, which typically requires some custom configuration or development within the ecom system.
7. We typically need to be able to navigate from the ecom system back into the configurator, usually from the wishlist or the shopping cart. The ecom system needs to be able to differentiate between custom and in-line products and route these requests appropriately.
8. On a more general level, the ecom system has to be able to handle both custom and in-line products. The handling of the different types of products will differ throughout the system, including the things we have already mentioned (pricing, purchasing, navigation in and out of the cart, etc), as well as things like product detail pages, product representations on category pages, etc.
9. This isn’t technically part of the ecom system but custom products usually complicate customer service. There is typically a different return policy for custom products. Order status information for custom orders is typically in a different system than that of in-line product orders.
10. This is also outside the core ecom system but the shipping mechanism for custom products usually differs; at a minimum, the origin point will be different. Dealing with the shipment of heterogeneous orders can be complicated. Should these orders be consolidated? How much should the customer be charged for shipping? How much insight should the consumer have into the shipping complexities?