Case study: product configurator for hot drink vending machines

In this blog we look at a specific application of our product configurator: the coffee industry. We are happy to take you through the possibilities of our software in this specific sector, but we are also happy to show you how diverse the usability is at the same time. The product configurator is not only useful for complex products. Even with less complex products, fewer product variations or a less wide range, a product configurator can help you save time and money. We would like to explain this in this case study, in which we discuss the use of our configurator within the vending machine industry.

What does a product configurator do?

Before we dive into this example, let’s briefly take you through a product configurator that does just that. With a product configurator, your customers (or your sales team) can put together their own product or service. The options are of course always bound to the specifications that you have provided yourself. This works through the use of knowledge rules (configuration and calculation rules). These are rules that you draw up yourself with the people who know your product, the possibilities and the impossibilities best. No programming knowledge is required to enter the knowledge rules in our software: knowledge about your product or service is sufficient. Thanks to the knowledge rules, you can be sure that the product your customer puts together can also be produced or assembled 100% correctly. What the selection process will look like depends on your own wishes. Thanks to the product configurator, your customer can see what he or she is putting together and what consequences this has for example on the price. All in all, a product configurator takes your customer by the hand, goes through the options and immediately draws up a quotation. An important spearhead of a product configurator is therefore that it saves a lot of time compared to the traditional quotation process.

Examples of knowledge rules (for coffee machines, for example)

A product configurator is built from knowledge rules. These prescribe what is possible – and above all impossible. You set these knowledge rules yourself: you know your product(s) or service(s) best. Because these configuration and calculation rules have often not been put on paper before, this is often the first step to build a well-functioning product configurator. Probably every department within your organization has its own (and therefore different) problems or impossibilities. That is why CPQing Solutions always recommends involving the entire company in this process. So not only the sales support department, but also the work preparation, production, product marketing and sales department. As soon as each department provides insight into frequently made incorrect combinations, these can be immediately ruled out. Tip: studying old quotations can be very useful here. The more critically the knowledge rules are drawn up, the more you will benefit from them later in the process.

To give a clearer picture of what such knowledge rules can look like, we use an example of the knowledge rules for hot drink vending machines, such as coffee or soup machines.

Question question Answer options
Contract type Buy or Rent or Loan or Rent and Buy
If renting: rental period 1 year or 2 years or 3 years or … or 6 years
Volume per year Coffee in kilograms
Type Machine Choice from range or appropriate to volume per year.
Service contract Yes or No
Accessories Choice of extras or suitable accessories when choosing the type of machine.
Accessories Choose from an extensive range of accessories. Ranging from other hot and cold drinks to snacks, cups and stir sticks.
Discount options % discount, discount on total amount, on service or volume discount.
Options for quotation layout Choose from predetermined elements that return to the quotation and thus better meet the wishes of your potential customer.

The advantages

Automating quotation documents

The CPQing Configurator can be used as offerte-software. Thanks to the configurator, all quotes are drawn up in no time and are guaranteed to be correct. Various offers and forms of purchase (purchase, rental, loan or combination) can also be included without any problems.

Significant time savings (up to even several FTEs!)

In times of shortages on the labor market, it is important to deploy your employees as effectively as possible. It is a shame to fully focus on new staff, while your organization can also continue to grow by simply optimizing the workflow. Many of our customers have preceded you: some organizations even let us know that they have reduced the effective time of preparing a quote from one and a half hours to just fifteen minutes. This can amount to a monthly saving of one full FTE.

Do not sell impossibilities

By including all possibilities and especially impossibilities in the knowledge rules of the configurator, margins of error are a thing of the past. This also makes the flow to the final delivery much smoother. In addition to the quotation, a production order can be drawn up immediately, so that what has been quoted can always be delivered. This prevents your salespeople or customers from accidentally ordering accessories or enhancements from specific machines that do not support those accessories or enhancements. During the preparation of the quotation, only relevant cross-sell options will be displayed. For example, milk can never be delivered to a machine that cannot make a cappuccino.

Customer is actively involved in decision-making process

Offering modular and/or tailor-made products offers the opportunity to communicate better, faster and more directly with customers. The big advantage for your customers is that they can influence the final product themselves: from the type of coffee to the different drinks that a vending machine can supply, from the way in which drinks can be paid for to how the machine will be placed. Possibly with accessories such as cabinets or even cooling. During the compilation, the customer gets a clear picture of all the options that specifically match the choices he made earlier. The customer is actively involved, but the range remains clear. The personalized experience ensures higher customer engagement and this will in many cases lead to conversions and sales.

Cross and upselling stimulated

Without the use of a product configurator, extensive product knowledge is often required to be able to respond properly to the possibilities of cross- or upselling. Thanks to the configurator, the extra options, handy maintenance products or possible types of drinks are immediately displayed. Both with the first order and with repeat purchases. This can vary from types of drinks, sugar, milk and snacks, to alternative accessories such as disposable cups and stirrers. All options are automatically adjusted to previously made choices (such as the type of contract, type of machine or the coffee volume in kilograms per year).

The benefits of CPQing

The implementation of a configurator is different for every company and can differ per industry. However, there are advantages that are the same for every company in every industry, regardless of the application:

  • Purchasing guidance for customer
  • Professional appearance
  • Guaranteed correct offers (quotations always reproducible)
  • Always direct insight into all standards and limitations of all products or services
  • Complex products are displayed in a simple and clear manner
  • Control over the content of the quotation document
  • Possibility to configure (and sell) online
  • Lead time is considerably shortened (from quotation to production)
  • Less failure costs
  • Easy to expand
  • Direct insight into costs and delivery times of variations

Do you also want your company to be able to make use of all the advantages of a configurator in the near future? Please feel free to contact to discuss the possibilities, or experience the convenience for yourself with your own demo-environment.

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