Industries in focus

How configurators are conquering the construction industry

Author: Klaus Pilsl

In a rapidly digitizing world, the construction and building components industries are at a crucial turning point. For years, these traditional sectors have relied on tried and tested methods - but times are changing and companies are now under intense pressure. The introduction of product configurators marks a revolution that is fundamentally changing the way we build and design. While the hammer and the tape measure will always have their place, digital transformation is creating new benchmarks - and challenges.

Many companies are still at the beginning of the digital journey, especially in sales, where personal contact and handshake quality have set the tone so far. However, customer expectations are evolving, driven by a world in which almost everything can be configured and personalized with just a few clicks. So how can companies in the construction and construction elements industry embrace and utilize this change to not only survive, but thrive? And why is there such an urgent need for action for these companies? That's what this article is all about.
 

What is a configurator

Definition and explanation

First of all, a few definitions:
The construction industry refers to products and services relating to e.g. buildings, infrastructure, landscaping and gardening, renovation and conversion work, etc.

The building elements sector includes products and services relating to building materials (bricks, glass, insulating materials, etc.), windows and doors, facades, permanently installed furniture and equipment for the home and garden, sanitary and furnishing installations, etc.

It is irrelevant whether the products are sold directly to the consumer or to production or service companies. The only differences lie in the scope, content and focus of the solutions. For the sake of simplicity, we will summarize both industries under the term "construction industry" in this article.
 

Different types of configurators in the construction industry

There are various tools in digitalized or partially digitalized sales. A basic distinction is made between planning tools and configurators.

Planning tools have open solution spaces and must therefore be operated by experts, the sales employees.

However, configurators only allow predefined, rule-checked configurations and can therefore be operated by anyone. Among configurators, a distinction can also be made between e-commerce configurators and sales support configurators. The former become a direct part of the web store, while the latter support the sales staff in their discussions with customers.
And e-commerce configurators can also differentiate between whether customers can buy the product online immediately or make a specific request to the company.

How configurators are conquering the construction industry
How configurators are conquering the construction industry

Successful configurator projects from the construction industry

Here are some of our customers who are already successfully implementing this sales digitization:

  • The company B├╝ckeburger manufactures hall offices for production halls, for example. The configurator allows their customers to get to know and design the product at a very early stage. As a result, B├╝ckeburger receives more inquiries (leads), which also have a higher quality (conversion rate).
  • Pieno manufactures premium entrance doors. The product configurator is not only used in the web store for direct ordering, but also serves as a sales support tool in showrooms. Pieno uses the configurator as a central element in the sales process and has already achieved a 10 % cost reduction compared to conventional sales.
  • The company Barbecue Kitchen sells garden kitchens. Since the introduction of the configurator, the customer journey has changed dramatically: Instead of manually designing, calculating and ordering the product with the sales team as before, customers now do these tasks themselves with the help of the configurator. And this has been so successful that Barbecue Kitchen has decided to only offer this direct sales channel.

 

Highlights of using a configurator in the construction industry

The following configurator options are particularly popular in this sector:

  • Augmented Reality (AR): Customers want to see what they are buying. With AR, they can see the configured product virtually in advance at the intended location and view it from all sides.
  • Automatic generation of parts lists: This makes it easy to automate production control. The configurator determines all production data and transfers it to the production system (ERP, PPS, etc.). This saves costs and eliminates processing errors
  • Interactive 3D graphics: Even while the customers are designing the product, they can immediately see exactly what the product will look like. This creates security and confidence that they will get exactly what they have configured. The 3D graphics can also be used to provide advice: Customers learn what effects the configuration parameters have and can also see exactly how the product will behave through animated graphics, for example.
  • Checked solution space: Unlike planning software, the configurator only allows technically correct configurations. Users can be confident that everything they design in the configurator is also available and correct.

 

Conclusion and future trends

Configurators are revolutionizing the construction industry through digitalization and increased efficiency. They offer personalized solutions, reduce sales costs and improve the customer experience. The following trends can be identified:

  • Advanced personalization: Advanced configurators offer more options and flexibility.
  • Use of AR and VR: For a more realistic customer experience in project design.
  • Automated production: Direct connection of configurators to production processes for more efficient implementation.
  • Ecological sustainability: Promotion of environmentally friendly building products.
  • Use of data analyses: Improvement of product offerings based on customer feedback.
  • Mobile platforms: More accessible and user-friendly configuration platforms.

Configurators are central to the digital transformation and will continue to play a key role in shaping developments in the construction industry.


Would you like to talk to experts about whether your product or company is suitable for implementing a configurator? We are at your disposal for a non-binding discussion.

How configurators are conquering the construction industry