We are always on the lookout for new product configurators because the innovations in this area are so rapid. Less than a month ago, Autoblog announced Ford’s new Mustang configurator and it has a few new fun touches to engage users while still maintaining a fairly efficient process of allowing the customers to find an appropriate car.
Although the configurator doesn’t allow you to view the car from any angle, the photos are very attractive and slightly interactive. When I hovered my mouse over the different models the configurator turned the headlights on the car as nice form of visual feedback. If I clicked on a model it brought the car to the front (see the GT Premium above).
I also particularly like the highlighting of the price throughout the process. Although providing MSRP pricing is standard for automobile companies there are many other industries where it is not, or only base price is shown. Unfortunately, if you limit the buyer’s ability to research the product with it’s pricing they are less likely to engage in a sales conversation.
Let’s continue with the Ford configurator… Once I select the model I am interested in, the configurator leads me to a page where I can select packages. In this case, there is a premium package that costs $1,795 MSRP.
I’m not particularly impressed with this step in the configurator. There are several problems, one is that the images are small and not very meaningful. In addition, the collection of features in this premium package does not appear to be purpose driven – in other words, it appears only to be targeted at someone who wants to spend more money. It would be much more helpful if the packages were split based on the purpose the car was being purchased for, for example, “the audiophile package” or the “touring package”. If it were, then buyers could more quickly identify what was appropriate for them without needing to understand the particular features.
Another thing I don’t like about this step is that it violates one of the well accepted rules of product configurators – it forces the buyer through a series of steps without an obvious way to complete the process early. Most modern configurators allow the buyer to complete the configuration process at any point during the selection process.
Let’s continue to the next page.
I love this page! It is highly interactive, visual and just fun. When you make a change that effects the price, the price digits roll like slot machine. When I change the colors, one color fades into another. The packages are purpose-driven and they change the image of the product so you know exactly how your choices will affect your purchase.
Let’s skip to the last page.
This page is nicely formatted with a good summary of the choices I have made. The product picture is small but beautiful and it appears to be visually accurate with respect to all the choices I made. My only critique of this page is that it is not obvious how to save the configuration for later recall. I would definitely recommend to Ford to add a way for buyers to email the configuration to themselves with a link that recalls the configuration.
Overall I would say that Ford did a nice job with this configurator. Ultimately, I think three criteria rise above all others when evaluating a configurator: how engaging is it? How effective is it? How efficient is it?
I give Ford a high score (A) for engagement due to their nice visual and interactive elements. Ford gets a fairly high score (B) on effectiveness where I define effectiveness as the configurators ability to guide the user to a product that matches their needs/desires. On the positive side, most of the packages are purpose driven, there aren’t an overwhelming number of options and it is easy to see how your choices effect the product being purchase. On the negative side, I can’t save my configuration, I don’t have a running summary of my choices and not all packages are purpose driven. Finally, Ford gets a moderate score (B-) on efficiency due to the configurator forcing you through a series of steps rather than allowing me to configure options in any order and in any level of detail I want.