Configuration challenge:
Recreational vehicle

Ajda Hafner, CMO at SaleSqueze
Marec 1, 2023

It’s time for another exciting configuration challenge!

This time, we received a special request to showcase Recreational vehicles (RV) because manufacturers and distributors are challenged by their configuration logic.

As the RV industry continues to grow, more and more people are choosing this flexible and adventurous mode of travel. However, with growth comes complexity, and RV manufacturers and distributors face new and complex challenges.

One of the biggest challenges they face is the highly configurable nature of RVs. With so many options, buyers can customize everything from the base vehicle to the exterior and interior features, living space, and technology. Unfortunately, this complexity can challenge communication and collaboration between manufacturers and distributors, leading to errors, delays, and missed opportunities.

The critical challenge for RV manufacturers and distributors: navigating complex configuration logic

RV manufacturers and distributors face a significant challenge – the highly customizable nature of RVs. With so many options available, keeping track of all possible combinations and variations can be overwhelming.

Typically, configuration logic is stored in product catalogs or Excel spreadsheets. However, with the industry’s rapid pace of innovation, these catalogs can quickly become outdated or incomplete. In addition, in some cases, the configuration logic may only exist in the minds of product managers, engineers, or salespeople, making it difficult for manufacturers and distributors to communicate and collaborate effectively.

This lack of transparency and standardization can result in errors and delays during the ordering and manufacturing, ultimately impacting the customer experience. The solution is for manufacturers and distributors to work together to develop streamlined and efficient systems for managing configuration logic. In addition, embracing new technologies that improve communication and collaboration across the supply chain can help ensure that customers get the RV they want, delivered on time and with no surprises.

Challenges for manufacturers

RV manufacturers face several challenges related to configuration logic when the configuration process needs to be unified in one platform. Here are some of the biggest problems that RV manufacturers may encounter:

Technical feasibility of orders: When distributors submit technically unfeasible orders, manufacturers may only realize this once the work order reaches the production process. Unfeasible orders can lead to significant problems, such as delays, cancellations, or the need for costly rework.

Inconsistent or changing orders: When orders are not sworn or are subject to change, manufacturers may need help meeting customer expectations and delivering high-quality products. For example, suppose the distributor changes the order or RV while the RV is already in production, and the new configuration is not feasible. In that case, the manufacturer may need to delay or cancel the order, leading to dissatisfaction among customers and distributors.

Unclear orders: Without a unified form or configuration system, manufacturers and distributors may understand ordered RV differently and have different expectations about the final product. Indefinite orders can lead to misunderstandings, delays, and mistakes that can impact the quality and delivery of RVs.

Back-and-forth communication: With no unified configuration platform, manufacturers may rely on manual communication methods, such as email or phone calls to clarify details with distributors about configuration logic, pricing, production time, and other information. Learn how communication and technical consultancy can be digitalized.

Challenges for distributors

Configuration logic of RVs is a nightmare for every distributor. Here are some of the critical challenges that RV distributors may encounter:

Managing inventory: With so many possible variations and configurations of RVs, distributors must carefully manage their inventory to ensure they have the right mix of products to meet customer demand. This can be incredibly challenging when manufacturers have extended lead times or demand is highly seasonal.

Providing customer support: RV buyers often have many questions and require a significant support before and after the sale. Distributors must have the resources and expertise to answer questions about RV features, maintenance, and repairs and provide customer service and support throughout the ownership lifecycle.

Meeting customer expectations: RV buyers have high expectations regarding the quality and functionality of their vehicles, and distributors must be able to meet these expectations while also managing costs and maximizing profits.

Managing pricing and margins: With so many options and variations available, pricing RVs can be complex and challenging for distributors. Distributors must balance customer expectations with profit margins and must be able to adjust pricing strategies quickly in response to changes in the market.

Managing the sales process: The sales process for RVs can be complex and time-consuming, involving multiple rounds of negotiations and customizations. Distributors must handle the sales process efficiently and effectively while providing high customer service and support.

Solving configuration logic issues with a user-friendly configuration platform

RV manufacturers and distributors often face significant challenges regarding configuration logic. However, there is a solution that can simplify the process and benefit all parties involved: a configuration platform.

A configuration platform is a user-friendly system that integrates manufacturers’ business logic and product configurators for distributors to quote and order RVs. A configuration platform allows RV manufacturers to simplify quoting and ordering process while gaining valuable data insights.

With a configuration platform, manufacturers can ensure that orders are technically feasible before they enter production, reducing the risk of costly delays or rework. A standardized form and configuration system can also mitigate misunderstandings or errors and provide valuable data insights, such as which configurations are most popular or which distributors are ordering the most RVs.

Distributors can also benefit from a configuration platform, providing a more easy-to-use and streamlined way to place orders and receive quotes. In addition, the unified system can reduce the need for manual communication and ensure that orders are accurate and technically feasible.

In conclusion, a configuration platform is critical to overcoming the challenges related to configuration logic. By streamlining communication and collaboration, reducing errors and delays, and providing valuable data insights, RV manufacturers and distributors can enhance the purchasing experience for customers and drive growth and success in the RV industry.

How to manage configuration logic in the SaleSqueze configuration platform?

The SaleSqueze configuration platform streamlines the management of configuration logic, ensuring that product managers, sales representatives, and distributors always have up-to-date information and cannot bypass the configuration rules.

The configuration logic is stored on the platform in three simple steps:

  1. Define the configuration model: The first step is to convert the product’s multilevel Bill of Materials (BOM) into a configuration model. This model is connected to the article catalog through the configuration engine, establishing a solid foundation.
  2. Import master data for configurable products: Once the configuration model is defined, it is used to define the parameters for the article catalog. Additional parameters can be added to enrich the catalog, creating a base for the configurator options.
  3. Build and test the configurator: After completing the configuration model and importing the article catalog, it’s time to test the configuration and ensure the validity of the multilevel BOM output.

Additionally, the product layout can be defined and designed by rearranging the configuration model components in the layout editor, adding steps, and finalizing the look and feel.

The result is an easy-to-use configurator

When RV manufacturers properly store their configuration logic, they can develop a product configurator that allows distributors to configure and order RVs without errors

Configuration platform integrates business logic and product configurators empowering distributors of self-service quoting and ordering. Configurators also ensure that quotes and orders are technically feasible and accurate, reducing the need for back-and-forth communication between distributors and manufacturers.

A product configurator helps distributors navigate through available options and configurations, ensuring they select only those the manufacturer can produce. 

A product configurator helps distributors navigate through available options and configurations, ensuring they select only those the manufacturer can produce. 

An exact configuration minimizes the risk of orders that cannot be fulfilled, thus preventing costly delays and rework. In addition, manufacturers receive orders that can be produced with a product configurator, increasing efficiency and streamlining the production process.

In conclusion, properly storing configuration logic is crucial for RV manufacturers and distributors to develop a product configurator that enables error-free ordering. This saves time and money for both parties, streamlines the purchasing process, and ultimately drives growth and success in the RV industry. Additionally, by investing in a configuration platform, manufacturers can ensure that their configuration logic is stored correctly, resulting in a smooth and hassle-free purchasing experience for distributors and customers.

Let the experience speak for itself.
Get access to the live RV configurator by SaleSqueze.

    Wrap up

    The configuration logic of RVs presents a significant challenge for manufacturers and distributors in the RV industry. With thousands of available options and configurations, ensuring that orders are technically feasible and accurate can be complex, leading to delays, errors, and increased costs.

    However, the RV industry can overcome these challenges using a configuration platform that integrates manufacturers’ business logic and product configurators with distributors’ quoting and ordering tools. A product configurator can guide distributors through available options and configurations, ensuring that they only select options that are technically feasible and can be produced. This reduces the risk of errors and delays, streamlines the purchasing process, and ultimately drives growth and success in the RV industry.

    By embracing technology and unifying configuration logic in one platform, RV manufacturers and distributors can improve collaboration, reduce costs, and gain valuable data insights. As a result, the RV industry is poised for continued growth, and using configuration platforms will be a crucial factor in driving this growth forward.

    Are you also facing challenges in the configurations of your products?

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