What Are the Different Types of Product Configurators?

A closer look at the interaction patterns offered by configurators reveals that there are several configurator types. Depending on the type of application and “solution space”, there are specific features that define how the interface to the end user must look like. The classification helps during the conception phase, in order to be able to better estimate the needed resources and scope of the planned configurator.

Of particular interest due to their wide appearance are web-based product configurators for designing products exactly matching customers’ individual needs. 

Verschiedene Arten von Produktkonfiguratoren

STO: Select-to-order

DThe customer selects all needed components of a product. There are no component dependencies.

Complexity: Low


PTO: Pick-to-order

The customer picks the components of a product and takes care himself of the deoendencies without support of the configurator

Complexity: Low


CTO: Configure-to-order

The configurator supports the customer in selecting the components that fit to each other based on a modular system.

Complexity: Low


ATO: Assemble-to-order

The configurator matches prefabricated components considering component dependencies

Complexity: Medium


MTO: Make-to-order

The configurator allows the customer to define specific parameters based product rules. Manufacturing takes place after order.

Complexity: Medium-high


ETO Engineer-to-order

Very high level of configuration freedom. New components and new rules might be required to satisfy the configuration needs of the customer.

Complexity: High


These product configurators cover a range from simple Select-to-order (STO) and Pick-to-order (PTO) configuration task to currently massive growing Configure-to-order (CTO) and Assemble-to-order (ATO) configuration systems up to sophisticated Make-to-order(MTO) and high end  Engineer-to-order (ETO) solutions that bridge the field of product configurators with the field of user innovation configurators.

The latter are much more toolkits that support specific innovation processes and do consist of large solution spaces, unlimited trial-and-error cycles and a high component modularity requiring an intense level of user involvement.

Learn more on this issue in the chapter “Core Capabilities of Sustainable Mass Customization” written by our co-founder Paul Blazek together with the leading academic authority on mass customization, Frank Piller. It was published in the book “Knowledge-based Configuration” by Alexander Felfernig et al.