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Teaser, summary, work performed and final results

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CEDMMC (Consumer Experience Design Model for Mass Customisation)


This project from the consumer’s perspective investigated the design and implementation of online mass customisation, especially focusing on the consumer-manufacturer interaction through online configurators. Mass customisation (MC) allows consumers to design a product...


This project from the consumer’s perspective investigated the design and implementation of online mass customisation, especially focusing on the consumer-manufacturer interaction through online configurators.
Mass customisation (MC) allows consumers to design a product or service through an online configurator and the manufacturer then creates it for the consumer only when the order is placed. Great efforts have been put into turning the concept of MC into practice. However, new start-up MC companies suffer from a 20% failure rate[1], and the majority of consumers seem to have never purchased any mass customised products[2]. This indicates that MC is still not fully investigated especially regarding the factors that influence consumer decision to buy customised products and the best ways to provide consumer-manufacturer interactions through the online configurators.
Given these considerations, the Research Aim was to propose a set of practical guidelines and strategies for online MC configurator design in order to create a satisfying user experience for consumers. Four research objectives were designed:
1: Identify a framework of positive and negative Influences of online MC design on consumer experience. This addressed the limitations of existing studies and industry practices that consumer experience was not fully considered.
2: Identify strategies for initial functional model for MC design. This objective proposed a set of preliminary strategies and principles for online MC configurator design.
3: Validate the strategies to further develop the functional model. A prototype of online MC configurator was made, which was fed into the development of the functional model.
4: Use the model to inform the best practice guidelines. This objective finalised the functional model.
This research project contributes significantly to both academia and industry.
Academia: This project helps to turn the academics’ attention from purely investigating technical or industrial issues around MC to taking consumer needs into account while making the technical or business decisions. It also provides practical suggestions for academics to understand how to develop user-friendly online MC configurators.
Industry: this research helps companies to better understand consumer needs and requirements for MC. It also prepares them with knowledge about how to interact with consumers in a satisfying and engaging way through online configurators.

Work performed

Overview of the Results
1: Validate the importance of configurator design in the success of MC. This research confirmed that configurator design is one of the important factors that influence consumer purchase intention of customised products. Specifically, the quality of information provided on the configurator is a key dimension.
2: Identify a framework of positive and negative Influences of online MC design on consumer experience, which can be explained from four aspects: effects of customisation, interaction, information quality and others.
3: Develop a functional evaluation model for MC design. This study proposed an Online 3D Mass Customisation Toolkit Evaluation Model to assess online 3D configurator design with the focus on consumer experience and underlying technical supports and their influences on the design of 3D configurators.
4: Apply the model to assess online MC configurator design to inspire the best practice. The assessment indicated that current 3D configurator design was still at an early development stage and open research questions were identified.
Work has been done
1. Research methods: a variety of research methods have been carried out, including observation, interview, think aloud, online questionnaire and content analysis. They help to lay the research foundation and gather useful date from consumers.
2. Training: included themed training and spontaneous training in regular project meetings. The Fellow gained necessary knowledge and technical skills from the host and industry partner who also learned from the Fellow about methods of engaging consumers in a satisfying way.
3. Dissemination:
a) Project website: a website dedicated to this project has been developed. It is used to display relevant information and update the latest research news. The prototype developed in this research is also hosted on the website.
b) Conferences and workshop: the Fellow attended and presented in two international conferences and one research workshop. Both conferences had business committees and many participants were from industry. This helped to deliver the impact and gain useful feedbacks.
c) Public engagement: the Fellow attended the public engagement event Festival of Learning. A wide range of audience attended this event. The Fellow prepared art and craft materials for children to design their own cups and talked to the adult participants about the project and invited them to design a product using online configurators.
d) Outreach students: the Fellow was invited to give a guest lecture and two seminars to MA students at Bournemouth University. The Fellow talked about the latest development in mass customisation and the results that have been achieved in this project. In the seminar, the Fellow showcased the prototype and asked for comments.
e) Publications: the Fellow has got two journal publications; two conference publications and presentations; one poster presentation.
1.Prototype: supported by Uformia’s technology, the prototype provides consumers with the opportunity of designing a cup through interactions with sliders. It is open accessible for public.
2.Uformia: was updated with the progress and results through project meetings, emails and scheduled training sessions. The results of this project help them to optimise their products to provide better technical support for online MC configurators.

Final results

The impact of this research include:
1. Lay the design foundations to inspire best practice in MC in industry. The practical guidelines and strategies proposed in this research help to develop companies’ knowledge and experience on MC configurator design, contributing to inspire best practice in industry.
2. Improve the EU’s economic competitiveness. The results of this research help to create a satisfying consumer experience and lead to the consumer purchase intention. This also helps to increase consumer loyalty to the companies and boost sales of their products, therefore, contributing to economic benefits for EU economy.
3. Improve the consumer’s shopping experience which contributes to a better quality of life. This research helps to avoid frustrations generated by unusable and unfriendly online configurators therefore helps to improve consumer experience. This eventually leads to an enjoyable shopping experience and improving their loyalty to the company.
4. Raise the consumers’ awareness of MC, leading to an increased purchase intention which feeds back into the impact at industry level. The dissemination activities help consumers to learn about this research and attract and increase their interest in online MC.

Website & more info

More info: