Volume 8, Issue 3

Business Model Patterns of B2B Mass Customizers: The Case of German Textile SMEs

Tim Mosig, Leontin Karl Grafmüller, Claudia Lehmann

The mass customization (MC) business model has gained wide recognition in practice. In theory, the topic was considered on a rather general level or focused on the B2C segment. However, there is little research on business models in B2B markets. Particularly for specialized SMEs in high-wage countries, MC seems highly promising due to its efficiencies. The textile industry represents an example for narrow-specialized SMEs, especially focusing on the German market. The data we collected during 29 on-site visits

 

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Open Innovation in Developing Regions: An Empirical Analysis across Manufacturing Companies

Bojan Lalić, Nenad Medić, Milan Delić, Nemanja Tasić, Uglješa Marjanović

Even though innovation potential in manufacturing companies from developing countries has been recognized, companies from these countries are more focused on internal than on external sources of innovation. External sources enable open innovation which is a valuable form of innovation that is receiving an increasing attention. Open innovation potential in manufacturing companies from developing countries could be exploited more. The purpose of this paper is to investigate current innovation practice used by manufacturing companies in a specific developing region namely the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina (Serbia). This investigation deepens non-pecuniary inbound form of open innovation. For this purpose, data taken from European Manufacturing Survey are used. The results of the analyses show that manufacturing companies from Vojvodina collaborate with different partners to innovate. Customers represent the most frequent source of innovative ideas even though,overall, the innovation ideas are generated more from internal sources.

 

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Designing Customer Co-Creation: Business Models and Co- Design Activities

Paul Christoph Gembarski, Roland Lachmayer

For nearly 30 years, mass customization as a competitive strategy has overcome the oxymoron of developing and marketing individualized products with the efficiency and at a price of mass production goods. Most authors agree that solution space development in general and product configuration in particular are two key tools for the success of this competitive strategy. Especially product configurators represent a customer co-design tool, which helps customers to express their needs and translate them into a valid technical specification. But also for product-service-systems co-design is a powerful tool to learn about customers and monitor their requirements. In this article, the relation between competitive strategy, business model, customization strategy and design solution space of mass customizers and suppliers of product-service-systems is investigated. Taking the interaction between customer and design department as a basis, templates for different co-design activities are derived that document what kind of solution space elements, knowledge and significant production strategies should be considered for different degrees of customization. This is then discussed with regard to an exemplified co-design business model for a customizable tea brewing machine.

 

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Managing Customer Touchpoints and Customer Satisfaction in B2B Mass Customization: A Case Study

Thomas Aichner, Benjamin Gruber

Most businesses agree that high customer satisfaction is important. Many are aware that it is a prerequisite for success, but few measure and monitor it in a structured way, thus failing to improve it. The aim of this article is to develop a customer touchpoint management tool that allows small and medium-sized, B2B mass customization companies to measure, monitor, and improve customer satisfaction. This case study identifies 48 customer touchpoints – classified in human, product, service, communication, spatial, and electronic interaction – in a three-step approach: Employees and existing customers were involved in identifying customer touchpoints, weighting them in terms of their general importance, and assessing some specific customer touchpoint’s importance for customer satisfaction. The results presented in this article suggest that not all existing customer touchpoints are perceived to be important or relevant, and that employees and customers largely agree regarding which customer touchpoints are most important. Customer touchpoints classified as human interaction were found to be most important and have the highest importance for customer satisfaction.

 

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The Effect of Co-Created Advertisements in Comparison to Firm- Generated ads: the Moderating Role of Source Disclosure on Viewers’ ad and Brand Evaluation

Marcel Weber, Julia Heinze

Companies realize more and more that the integration of the customer as source of innovation, i.e. customer co-creation, enables the achievement of unique competitive advantages along the value chain. A growing trend is the co-creation of advertisements, also referred to as consumer generated advertising (CGA). Even though the phenomenon started with consumers initiatively engaging in the creation and dissemination of brand related video content, firms soon recognized the value of actively soliciting consumer-generated ads. As this, however, refers to co-creating consumers in the first place, research was interested in how CGA is perceived by customers not involved in ad-creation. As prior studies yielded opposing results, thereby suggesting a moderating role of the ad itself, the present study extended the analysis of the effect of source disclosure on viewers’ ad and brand evaluation using two different ads. Additionally, it responds to a call for more research by examining whether and how the differential timing of source disclosure is influential. Based on an online experiment with 191 international respondents, it was found that source disclosure increases ad evaluation in a significant, and brand evaluation in a not significant way. Regarding the timing; disclosure prior versus post exposure has a meaningful but not statistically significant effect. Disclosure post exposure consistently yields higher ad evaluation than conventional, firm-generated ads. However, the ad itself has a moderation effect, yielding differences in strength and direction of the effect.

 

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How to Identify Possible Applications of Product Configuration Systems in Engineer-to-Order Companies

Katrin Kristjansdottir, Sara Shafiee, Lars Hvam

Product configuration systems (PCS) play an essential role when providing customised and engineered products efficiently. Literature in the field describes numerous strategies to develop PCS but neglects to identify different application areas. This topic is particularly important for engineer-toorder (ETO) companies that support gradual implementation of PCS due to large product variety and, several times, higher complexity of products and processes. The overall PCS process can thereby be broken down, and the risk minimised. This paper provides a three-step framework to identify different applications of PCS including the following steps: (1) identifying potential PCS, (2) aligning IT development, and (3) establishing an overview of PCS application. The study is supplemented by results from a case study in which the proposed framework was tested. The results from the testing confirm that the framework is applicable, as it leads to strategic and smart decisions regarding the implementation of PCS.

 

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Automatic Identification of Similarities Across Products to Improve the Configuration Process in ETO Companies

Sara Shafiee, Katrin Kristjansdottirm, Lars Hvam

Engineer-To-Order (ETO) companies making complex products face the challenge of delivering highly customised products with high quality, affordable price and a short delivery time. To respond to these challenges, ETO companies strive to increase the commonality between different projects and to reuse product-related information. Therfore, ETO companies need to retrieve data about previously designed products and identify parts of the design that can be reused to improve the configuration process. This allows companies to reduce complexity in the product portfolio, decrease engineering hours and improve the accuracy of the product specifications. This article proposes a framework to identify and compare products’ similarities. The framework (1) identifies the most important product variables available in the Product Configuration System (PCS), (2) retrieves data of previously designed products in an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, (3) identifies a method to compare products based on the main products variables and (4) sets up an IT system (database) with data of the previously designed products to integrate with the PCS. The proposed approach (the framework and the IT system) is tested in an ETO company to evaluate the application of the framework and the IT system. We retrieved the needed data from the ERP system at the case company and developed the IT system in Microsoft Excel, which is integrated with the PCS.

 

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Synergic Effects of Sales-Configurator Capabilities on Consumer- Perceived Benefits of Mass-Customized Product

Enrico Sandrin

Sales configurators (SCs) are beneficial to both mass customizers and their customers. The widespread adoption of online SCs, which enable consumers to self-customize their product solutions online, reflects the importance of these tools for companies that pursue mass customization. Prior research has found empirical evidence that the SC capabilities of focused navigation, flexible navigation, easy comparison, user-friendly product-space description, and benefit-cost communication improve the utilitarian benefit consumers perceive to gain from the possession of a mass-customized product. Only the first three capabilities, however, have been shown to enhance the uniqueness and self-expressiveness benefits. These findings derive from the study of the independent effects of the five capabilities on the utilitarian, uniqueness and self-expressiveness benefits. The present paper adds to prior research results by conceptually and empirically examining the synergic effects of the five capabilities on such benefits. Data analysis is performed using structural equation modeling and a sample of 675 configuration experiences using real online SCs for laptops/notebooks, economy cars, and sport shoes/sneakers. The paper finds that all five capabilities become effective in improving all the three consumer-perceived benefits when the capabilities are implemented jointly. This result suggests that a holistic approach in the implementation of the five capabilities is more effective in improving the consumer-perceived benefits of mass-customized products than a piecemeal approach.

 

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Lean Product Development Implementation Approach: Empirical Evidence from Indian Lean Manufacturers

Stefano Biazzo, Roberto Panizzolo, Amol Gore

This paper investigates the application of Lean concepts in innovation processes of a group of Indian firms which have undertaken a significant path of lean transformation both in the factory and in product development. The paper first develops an assessing framework for evaluating the Lean Product Development (LPD) transformation initiatives adopted by firms. This framework, which has been developed on the base of literature review and reviewed through a Delphy study, is subsequently used to analyse 18 Indian manufacturing companies which have embarked in LPD initiatives. The obtained empirical results contrast with the theory-based requirements of a balanced approach between process and product focus. Most of the studied companies have implemented the process-focused LPD initiatives that aim at improving the overall performance of the development process by making it more fluid and efficient through the operationalization of flow and pull principles. Lower adoption is in place for product-focused initiatives that evoke the lean principle of value and the search for effectiveness in responding to customer needs. Only a small number of firms have followed a fully integrated approach that means the adoption of a significant number of initiatives in both product and process domains. We think that the allocation of LPD transformation initiatives into proposed categories can help managers prioritize investment decisions about lean transformation in product development processes.

 

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