Catering equipment dealer launches first online product configurator

Catering Appliance Superstore product configurator

Catering Appliance Superstore has launched the first of what is expected to be a series of ‘product configurators’ that make it easy for buyers to configure their product and then specify any required accessories or upgrades.

The company says the move is a step beyond the “typical brochure-style” e-commerce online store where a website would present customers with a long list of products that they need to browse through to find the model they require.

Instead they are guided through a few questions regarding the product they want with the aim that by the end they will have identified the right fit and added any optional extras and accessories.

Catering Appliance Superstore has kicked off the initiative by launching a configurator in the hot cupboard category but it plans to go live with more product types over the coming month.

“We strive to make the buying process as easy as possible for our customers,” company director Graham Sowerby told FEJ. “When you present a customer with a large number of products in a ‘catalogue’ format it can be very hard to understand how they all compare against one another and where to look for the one you need, meaning you have to browse, which takes time and can cause frustration.

Sowerby said that customers generally know what they are looking for in terms of specification and how much room they have for the unit within their premises, so it’s aim is to help them get to that product faster. “The idea of the builder is to take that stress away from a customer,” he said. “The builder guides the customer to the product that fits their requirements best by asking a few general questions.”

Catering Appliance Superstore says it doesn’t know of any other large online catering equipment dealers offering a service like this, but Sowerby acknowledged that it is conceivable that some smaller specialist companies have developed similar tools.

One of the biggest challenges the company faces in adding this functionality to its website is gathering the necessary information and images from suppliers, especially details on accessories and product upgrades.

The company also tasked its web design company with making sure that the configurator is universally configurable by non-technical people. This means that any of its staff can build a configurator within a matter of minutes for its website management system.

It believes the configurator can potentially be rolled out to all categories where there is a lot of choice, product upgrade options and multiple accessories.

“We feel that customers have sometimes ordered a product and not realised that they could have added some useful upgrades and accessories,” said Sowerby. “We want to make sure customers have the opportunity to customise their product and don’t miss the opportunity. Additionally, the configurators are very useful for customers when they need guidance due to important technical specifications that need to considering in the purchase.”

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