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Stan Davis, a famous business visionary, prominent author, consultant and public speaker, coined the phrase
of mass customization in 1987.

The transformation:

Mass Customization Era

Mass Production Era

Craft Era

Mass customization has emerged as a practice that combines the best of the craft era & the best of the mass
production era. Even as the mass production paradigm continues to dominate, a new paradigm, mass
customization, is emerging and will continue to grow in a parallel path.

New Products
Long Product


Old Paradigm- Mass Production

Long Product
Life Cycles

Stable Demands

Low Cost,



New Products
Short Product


New Paradigm- Mass Customization

Short Product
Life Cycles


Low Cost, High



What brought mass customization into the picture..??

Service expectations of customers have increased enormously.

Customers are keen & willing to pay 50-100% more for customized & personalized products &
Customers today demand far more variety than what is being offered to them.
Nobody wants to look like anybody else. Customers want to establish their own individuality.
Products were required to be individualized & adapted to different tastes at an affordable price.
Customers demand quick delivery of the products & services ordered by them (within 3-4 days).
Mass customization bestowed customer satisfaction which was beyond the expectation of the
Certain segments of the market (niche markets) that have not been served well could be captured
with mass customization.
Mass customization is the perfect way to bridge the gap between cost pressures and customerspecific requirements.


Successful pursuit of Mass Customization requires 3 essential conditions:


Understanding the peculiar needs/ wants/ demands of individual customers

Ability to offer what the customers need/ want/ demand, ideally without cost, time or quality
Ability to support each customer in identifying his or her own solution while minimizing the choice
complexity for the customers.

Mass customization is a means to provide goods and services that best serve individual customers personal
needs with near mass production efficiency. To apply this apparently simple statement in practice however is
quite complex. As a business paradigm, mass customization provides an attractive business proposition to add
value by directly addressing customer needs and in the mean time utilizing resources efficiently without
incurring excessive cost. This is particularly significant at a time where competition is no longer just based on
price and conformance of dimensional quality.
A change to mass customization affects every aspect of a business, from marketing, order entry, pre-, during& post- production control, supply chain management, warehousing, dispatch, distribution, total supply chain
logistics package, etc.
Mass customization regards heterogeneities of demand among different customers not as a threat, but as a
new opportunity for profits.
A basic flow of the mass customization process could be given as follows:

It starts with a segment of the market that has not been served well. Certain types of products are
needed to fulfill this market gap.
Companies then design not a single product, but a platform that can be configured to address the
requirements of this potential market
The marketing department will then come up with a campaign to communicate the unique
differentiation of the products that have been perceived as market needs.
The sales department interacts with customers to translate customers' needs with machine
specification and to configure a product that fits well with the customers' requirements and can be
delivered when the customers need it. At the same time, and often more importantly, the total cost
has to be within the budgets available to the customer.
Next, production and distribution have to figure out a way to produce and to manage the logistics for
the necessary components and assemblies and to complete machinery efficiently. However,
uniqueness of components often translates into set up time and additional cost. This may run against
the required budget limitation and lead time. To address these challenges, techniques like flexible
scheduling, modularity, commonality and others are applied to counterbalance the additional cost.
In a final step, often years after product modularity and flexible processes in manufacturing and
logistics have been established, the firm starts to increase the efficiency of the customer interaction
process when taking the order. A product configuration system is introduced to better communicate
to customers what is available and to match customer requirements with existing solutions of the


Marketing approach in Mass Customization:

Mass customization means the production of goods and services for a (relatively) large market, which meet
exactly the needs of each individual customer with regard to certain product characteristics (differentiation
option), at costs roughly corresponding to those of standard mass-produced goods (cost option). The
information collected during the process of individualization serves to build up a lasting individual relationship
with each customer (relationship option).
If the market demand for customization is not large enough, and if consumers are not willing to pay for the
extra benefits of customization by meeting their individual desires and wishes, then all investments in
research and implementation of mass customization will be sunk costs. In this regard, three research
questions seem of particular importance:

Do consumers want customized products and services anyway?

What dimension and what extent of customization do consumers want in which market segments?
Are consumers willing to pay a premium for customization?

In an empirical study, by Franke and von Hippel (2003) shows that users in fact have very unique
needs, leaving many displeased with standard goods. Users claimed that they were willing to pay a
considerable premium for improvements which satisfy their individual needs. Current practice in
market segmentation generally leads to high levels of total variance, left over as in-segment variation
(over 50 per cent on average). The reason for this dissatisfaction can be seen in the missing capability
of mass or variant manufacturing to respond to individual needs regarding the desired ideal product
of individual customers.

Customers experience difficulties when buying outsize apparel. More than 70 per cent of formal wear
bought from the rack is altered after the purchase at the customers expense! 65 per cent of the
interviewees expressed a strong need for customization in regard to custom fit (measurements) for
suits and formal dresses. Fit is the most important issue, followed by quality and design. Deficits in
matching fit and style (aesthetic design) were identified especially in the up-market smart segment.
The Outsize (1998) & Zitex (1999) studies concluded that the variety of clothes and shoes provided
today is not sufficient to fulfill the heterogeneous needs of customers.
There seem to be large differences in consumers attitudes depending on gender and the country of
origin. An empirical study showed that some customers were totally fascinated & admired the
concept of customization whereas some totally rejected the same and found the concept to be rather
complicated. Fashion conscious customers, who were interested in trendsetting rather than following
standards set by others, were keener into the concept of customization & personalization. The study
also showed that women were more interested into customization than men, since, most men
brought apparels or footwear only when they actually needed them. Additionally, women encounter
comparatively more difficulties in regard to fit and comfort. Thus customized goods for women
became a larger & promising market.
Manufactures aimed at differentiation by customization should try to make the act of customization
as a fashion item (Piller and Ihl 2002), which meant, big fashion brands will have an advantage in
introducing customization as a point of differentiation in fashion. There is an enormous market
potential for customization that is not covered by existing offers yet. As an opinion, even one tenth of
these volumes would justify major investments in an otherwise very mature and price competitive
market with very little real innovation.

Customization has to be customized, too. Mass customization is characterized by a fixed solution

space, meaning that the customization options are restricted and not unlimited as in the case of
traditional craft customization. Setting the right extent of a mass customization offering is of
paramount importance & can be carried out on 3 levels:
Style (aesthetic design): modifications aiming at sensual or optical senses, i.e. selecting
colors, styles, applications, cuts or flavors.
Fit and comfort (measurements): customization based on the fit of a product with the
dimensions of the recipient, i.e. tailoring a product according to a body measurement or the
dimensions of a room or other physical object. This is the traditional starting point for
customization (tailoring).
Functionality: customizing option in regard to functionality or interfaces of the product, i.e.
selecting breathability, closures, wear-ability, ethical parameters etc. of an offering.
Functionality is often overseen when mass customization is addressed.
The cost option of mass customization demands that options or adjustments are only offered for
those product features where customization is valued by the users. Critical reasons for customer
dissatisfaction could be on the lines of design, fit & price-quality ratio. An empirical study, by
EUROShoE, showed that, for both men and women, fit was most important, followed by design and
functionality. Personal style and fit can be improved significantly by customization. Standardized
products can never give the amount of satisfaction that their customized counterparts can.


One of the most challenging questions of mass customization is if, and to what extent, consumers are
willing to pay a premium for customization. For customers, the decision to buy customized products
is basically the result of a simple economic equation (Franke and Piller 2003): if the (expected) returns
exceed the (expected) costs, the likelihood that customers employ mass customization will increase.
Costs of mass customization for consumers are: (1) the premium a customer has to pay for the
individualized product compared to a standard offering; and (2) the drawbacks of the customers
active participation at (integration into) value creation during the configuration process increase in
mass confusion, i.e. purchasing complexity, uncertainty, co-design risk, etc.
Majority of the customers desire to pay 20-30% more on the standard price of the product, whereas a
few are even ready to pay about 50-100% more for a customized product with exceptional quality &
which is delivered within a time period of 3-4 days. The willingness to pay also differs between
topographies. For e.g. Italians are willing to pay more than the other European countries, for a
customized quality product. WTP also depends upon the type of market targeted. The high fashion
(luxury) market has more WTP as compared to the average up-market. WTP also depends upon the
degree of customization offered by a particular company. For e.g. Adidas allows customers not only
to choose between various colors, and to put a name on the shoe, but also to customize the shoes
with regard to comfort, fit and functionality, can charge a 50% premium, on the other hand, its
competitor Nike, offering just style customization with its ID programme, can ask only premiums of
10 per cent.
However, there is a possibility of price customization by allowing customers to adjust their own
price by selecting differently priced options for one product feature. Levin et al. (2002) compared the
price effects of customization to how price customization is performed. They find for various
consumer products that a subtractive option-framing method is superior (i.e. leads to higher average
prices) compared to an additive-framing. Subtractive option-framing means that consumers start
with a fully loaded product and delete options, while additive option-framing means to start with a
base model and add options. The data by Levin et al. (2002) shows that subtracting leads to a higher
price (WTP). This provides an indication of the additional value of offering customization not only on
the product level, but also on the option level, and how to skin this value.

Mass customization has a huge & promising market altogether. Even if mass customization is not becoming
the dominating system, these are not just niche markets, but promising market segments, totally uncovered
today. Especially female consumers seem to be willing to invest in customization, so that they do not have to
compromise between fit and style any longer.
Most consumers have an imagination about customization, but no experience with it. Surveys
concerning consumer purchasing behavior of standard goods face numerous biases due to the survey
situation, and these biases are exponential in the case of customized goods.
Customers should be well aware of their body type & should measure their body in the most accurate
way (as per the given instructions by the manufacturer) in order to avoid confusion & dissatisfaction
in terms of fit & comfort.
Customers need to pay the suppliers in advance for the product they cant see till its delivered to
their doorstep.
Only data gained from observing consumers in real purchasing situations will provide evidence on the real
market for mass customization. Thus, more pilot studies and test markets for mass customization are needed.


First steps are focus group discussions and experiments in market research labs, where the participants can at
least experience the purchasing and configuration process.
In the end, it is very important to remember the words of Pine (1998: 14): Customers dont want choice. They
want exactly, what they want. Customers are not buying individuality; they are purchasing a product or
service that fits exactly to their needs and desires. Only few customers honor long configuration processes.
Most users want to find their fitting solution as smooth and simple as possible.
From a marketing perspective, mass customization means to offer its customers not any longer a product, but
the capability to deliver an individual solution. The customer becomes a co-designer, using the firms capacity
to create his own unique solution. Thus, the experience of the buying and configuration process gets
predominant importance. Beyond all achievement and research on computer integrated manufacturing and
flexible manufacturing systems enabling mass customization.

Few innovative concepts of marketing:

Ziami, a customizing brand based out of Germany (, has an approach based
on a multi-level marketing (or: pyramid). This means, all products are sold by independent sales
associates who purchase a 50 Euro starter package that enables them to become a custom shirt
seller. This package includes everything to sell Ziami shirts, like a "How to measure"-DVD, one sample
shirt, fabric samples, measuring tape, needles, 50 ordering flyers, 50 promotion flyers, a brochure
containing all the necessary information and the official license to sell Ziami clothes. Distribution
partners purchase a custom shirt for 22 Euro, and resell it for the suggested 29 Euro. In addition, they
are motivated to recruit further sales associates, as they will participate also on the margins
generated by those 2nd tier partners.

Another example is where a user can share their design ideas online & market
them. Open-garments can be used as a medium of doing business. At first the user composes his/ her
garment selecting the fabric, color, print & shape. This customized garment can be purchased &
shared on the online platform of open-garments, where other users can admire & even purchase the
particular style. The designer can also opt to open his/ her own web-shop on the open-garments
platform & choose partners for production related activities. Thus, the open-garments movement
facilitates the user to configure, produce & share their ideas.


Features of an Order System in a company doing Mass Customization:

Each product has a peculiar product ID. Customer can order a customized product in a similar way as
a standard one. Each order made by a customer has a peculiar order ID, which represents the no. &
types of products ordered by the customer in that particular order. In other words, once the
customized product is designed and made available to the customer, it is assigned a product number
and the customer places orders as if it were for any other product from the range.
A Made to Order (MTO) or Build to Order (BTO) is followed in lot sizes of one. This means, the
product is manufactured & customized from scratch or is form postponed, after the customer has
placed the order, as per the customers specifications.
The various stages of order processing in mass customization is listed out below:
Order taking co-ordination: this process manages the dialogue with the customer, receiving
and interpreting the customers wishes, coding them for verification by the customer,
finding a product solution for the customer and generating the details of the order.
Product development and design: this process handles the design for the customer.
Compliance with external and internal standards is within its scope.
Product validation and manufacturing engineering: this process is responsible for confirming
the manufacturability of the design and its translation into a set of manufacturing
procedures and rules. It will typically generate the bill of materials for the customized
products and provide guidelines on routing and processing instructions.
Order fulfillment management: this process manages the order fulfillment value adding
chain, including the supply chain. It interacts with the order co-ordination process, informing
it of when it can complete an order and schedules and controls the order fulfillment
Order fulfillment realization: this process encompasses the activities executed in the
manufacture of products, and includes supplier activities, internal manufacturing processes
and delivery activities.
Post order process: these are activities that (may) follow the completion of an order, such as
maintenance, warranty claims, technical guidance, etc.


Five fundamental modes, A to E, can be identified. They are named and described below:
Mode A: Catalogue MC- A customer order is fulfilled from a pre-engineered catalogue of variants,
produced using standard order fulfillment processes. In this mode the engineering of products is not
linked to orders, but completed before orders are received. Customers select from a pre-specified
range and the products are manufactured by the order fulfillment activities that are in place. Likewise
the order fulfillment activities are engineered ahead of an order being taken.
Mode B: Fixed resource design-per-order MC - A customer order is fulfilled by engineering a
customer specific product, produced through standard order fulfillment processes. The customer
places one order for the product and there is no expectation of repeat orders. In this mode there is
some degree of product engineering for each order, unless a customers wishes happen to match a
previous order in which case the product design is reused. Because the order fulfillment process is
standard all designs must be suitable for the process. Therefore it is important the product
development process is aware of the process capabilities.
Mode C: Flexible resource design-per-order MC- A customer order is fulfilled by engineering a
customer specific product, and produced through modified order fulfillment processes. The customer
places one order for the product and there is no expectation of repeat orders. In this mode products
are engineered per order and the order fulfillment process may be modified per order.
Mode D: Fixed resource call-off MC- A customized product is designed for a customer, to be
manufactured via standard order fulfillment processes in anticipation of repeat orders. At the
prompting of a customer a product is designed that can be manufactured through the standard order
fulfillment process, and the customer can order the product at any time.
Mode E: Flexible resource call-off MC-This mode is the same as Mode D except that the order
fulfillment activities are modifiable. A customer order is fulfilled by engineering a customer specific
product, and produced through modified order fulfillment processes. There is an expectation of
repeat orders.


Product configuration systems are considered to be important enablers of the mass-customization

strategy. They are the most successful applications of e-technologies and artificial intelligence in e-business,
particularly in customer interaction. Product configuration systems support the acquisition of the customers
requirements while automating the order-taking process, and they allow customers to configure their
products by specifying their technical requirements.
Configurators can be implemented at the interface between a supplier and its customers over the Internet. Its
principle task is to support customers in the self-configuration of their products according to individual
requirements. For example, customers can be provided with the possibility to alter a basic product and also to
graphically visualize the effects of these changes (e.g., http://
Configurators support the configuration process that requires one to accurately understand the customers
needs and to create a complete description of a product variant that meets those needs. Given a set of
customer requirements and a product family description, the task of configuration is to find a valid and
completely specified product structure among the alternatives that the generic structure describes (Sabin &
Weigel, 1998). Configurators support the configuration task, which is defined as the process of designing a
product using a set of predefined components while taking into account a set of restrictions on how the
components can be combined.
The front end system of the product configurator interacts with the customer in order to elicit his needs.
Customers can also visualize their choices and change them according to their requirements. The back end
system of the configurator contains the product logic and does not tolerate inconsistencies between parts or
modules, which ensures that the product ordered by the customer is able to be manufactured. Forza/Salvador
(2002) pointed out those errors during order acquisition that can be considerably reduced with the
introduction of product configuration systems. Product variant prices as well as delivery point in times can be
also automatically calculated. Thereby, sales personals can be enormously reduced because of the direct
interaction between customers and supplier.
The integration of the configuration system with e.g. the product data management (PDM) system and the
ERP system provides additional advantages. Product documentation with respect to involved parts or modules
and routings can be automatically and efficiently generated. Product configuration systems generally do not
attribute a different part number to each product variant. This would induce an explosion of data because of
the possible variety of customers orders. Therefore, configurators use a generic product structure that
enables one to efficiently represent product data by avoiding redundancies (Tseng/Jiao, 2001).


CRM Strategies

by Prof. Frank Piller

Concept of Direct Interaction:

Companies can only predict what their customers will do in the future if they keep a record of past
behavior and know how to translate this information into knowledge about customers.
To survive in todays marketplace, a company cannot afford to choose between low costs on the one
hand, and high quality, innovative technology, quick delivery, or high variety on the other. A hybrid
strategic approach is needed, teaming high quality or the latest technology with a strong cost position.
Direct interaction with each customer leads to successful & effective Customer Relationship Management


Learning relationships are basis for expanding knowledge about customers. Companies that gather and
compare information about individual customers are in a better position to address their sales market in a
targeted and efficient way. This is also turns out to be a valuable & effective market research knowledge
that is similar to panel data but without the usual effects of panel surveys, because of unfiltered access to
data on market trends and customers needs.

Concept of user innovation or interactive value creation:

Another aspect of effective CRM is attaining customer feedbacks regarding a new product/ style launch or
asking for the customers point of view regarding a particular product by offering selected customers with
a free sample of the new product/ style. These customers are called bloggers or lead customers. They
post their option regarding the product on their blogs which others users can view & comment on. An

approach of this kind, called user innovation or interactive value creation, also helps in market
research & marketing of the particular brand.
This is an important feature of co-design or co-creation which demands a continuous interaction
between the employees of the manufacturer and the innovating users. Such users are motivated by
various incentives (store credits or free samples of the new style), but not by (market) prices, salaries, or
hierarchical commands. Interactive value creation means that users are involved in the full range of
activities that bring a product to market.
In many consumer goods markets today, manufacturers are forced to create product assortments for
increasingly small market niches, as these markets are the only source of growth that escapes heavy price
competition. In this situation, new product development projects often require enormous investments
and are highly risky. While new products or product variants have to be developed and introduced at a
rapid pace, forecasting their exact specification and potential sales volumes is becoming more difficult
than ever, as other producers are also creating niche products.
Newly launched products have shown notoriously high failure rates over the years, often reaching fifty
percent or more. The primary reason for these flops has been found to be inaccurate understanding of
user needs. In other words, many new product development projects are unsuccessful because of poor
commercial prospects rather than technical problems. Researchers have found that timely and reliable
information on customer preferences and requirements is the most critical information for successful
product development.
In one of the cases, Threadless (, a young Chicago-based fashion company that
started up in 2000, the garment is produced only after a sufficient number of customers have expressed
their explicit willingness to buy the design. If the commitment is missing, a potential design concept is
dismissed. The Threadless business model exploits the commitment of users to screen, evaluate and
score new designs as a powerful mechanism to reduce new product failures. To keep the competition
interesting and encourage users to participate continuously, the number of designs at a given time has to
be limited so that users dont get confused. The early user feedback has proven to be a very strong
indicator of the success of a design in the competition and enables the company to increase the usability
and experience for users who vote.

Concept of Collective Customer Commitment:

The process starts when an idea for a product is posted by an external designer who responds to an open
call for participation. Second, reactions and evaluations of other consumers towards the posted idea are
encouraged in internet forums and opinion polls. Based on the results of this process, the manufacturer
investigates the possibility of commercialization of the most popular designs. If this evaluation is positive,
the company decides on the minimum number of purchasers necessary to produce the item for a given
sales price, covering its initial development and manufacturing costs (and the desired margin). The new
product idea is then presented to the customer community, and interested customers are invited to
express their commitment to the idea by voting for the design or even placing an order. Accordingly, only
if the number of interested purchasers exceeds the minimum necessary lot size, investments in final
product development are made and sales commence.
Motivating individual actors to make an appropriate contribution is an important management task. The
significant problems of innovation are solved only if all participants realize a sufficient value from their
participation. Manufacturers thus must incentivize customers and other users to transfer their innovative
ideas. Rewards or recognitions are not given to everyone submitting an idea, but only for the best of
these submissions.
Selection of promising ideas and their conversion into useful concepts is problematic and expensive. A
well constructed contest can support these steps, if the rules of the contest demand not only an idea, but

ask submitters also for a first proof of feasibility, an evaluation of solution technologies enabling the idea,
or even a corresponding manufacturing concept. In Threadless, designers use specific software that allows
for an easy transfer of the chosen designs to manufacturing. The website also increases the specificity and
transferability of design ideas by using the input and evaluations of other users to select between all ideas
submitted. The product management of Threadless thus receives at the end of each contest not only a
large number of design ideas, but also a short-list of promising design concepts selected by the customer
target group, along with numerous comments and ideas about how to transfer the submitted designs into
even better product concepts.
The elicitation stage has to be performed for every customer and every order, so sufficient information
systems have to be available to cover the arising interaction costs of MC. In consumer markets this
interaction often has to be carried out over the Internet. However, in the mi Adidas system a scanning
process is involved, so a retail-based system is needed for the first pair of shoes. Re-orders can be placed
easily via the Internet, saving money for the company, and time and effort for the consumer. One future
option may be that customers using their shoes regularly for sports could even be able to subscribe to
new pairs of their personalized shoes.
Open innovation or user driven innovation is now a policy based initiative supported by the
government. The Danish government led the way followed by the Australian government & then the UK
government. Substantial seed funding was taken up by several universities & dedicated professorships for
user innovation are established in these universities. The project is so significant that it was listed in the
Harvard Business Reviews list of Breakthrough ideas for 2007.
Two requirements for sustained CRM:


The first is an offering based entirely on the wishes and needs of the customer not simply on
standard processes cosmetically personalized through irritating promotional letters. A sensible
customer-company liaison begins with personal contact, continues with the creation of sales
activities according to customer-specific specifications, and finishes with a learning relationship,
whereby the provider is the student, not the teacher.
Second, high-quality processes must underpin these customer- specific services. Using new
information and communication techniques effectively, is just as important as having well-trained,
motivated staff to interact with customers. The aim is to create an atmosphere conducive to
customer integration and ensure that every communication between customer and company is a
positive experience leaving the customer convinced that to remain loyal is more convenient than to
turn to a competitor.

Challenges for implementing peer-production principle- Not Invented Here:

An important challenge of applying the peer-production principle and other ideas from open
innovation involves the difficulties of integrating ideas and solutions created at the firms periphery
into the corporate context. Internal (proprietary) knowledge has to be connected with external
generated knowledge. This process appears to one of the most challenging tasks for firms that want
to utilize gains from open innovation.
The Not Invented Here (NIH) problem, ... the tendency of a project group of stable composition to
believe that it possesses a monopoly of knowledge in its field, which leads it to reject new ideas from
outsiders to the detriment of its performance.
The important warning: if the transfer of input from peripheral sources fails, investments in customer
innovation platforms turn into additional costs.
Service organizations are facing familiar problems of innovation, including the need to develop new
customer centric processes and products, cut costs, improve service through the application of IT,
reengineer business processes, and put in place systems and a culture for sustainable innovationservice innovation.

Strategies used in Production Planning & Control:

Form Postponement, which means, processing a product through the production cycle to a certain
point after which, they can be processed further to bestow the desired customization. E.g. painting of
a car can be delayed in the manufacturing & distribution process in order to make it customized.
QRM (Quick Response Manufacturing) emphasizes the beneficial effect of reducing internal and
external lead times. Shorter lead times improve quality, reduce cost and eliminate non-value-added
waste within the organization while simultaneously increasing the organizations competitiveness and
market share by serving customers better and faster.
Agile Manufacturing allows the marketers, the designers and the production personnel to share a
common database of parts and products, to share data on production capacities and problems
particularly where small initial problems may have larger downstream effects. It is a general
proposition of manufacturing that the cost of correcting quality issues increases as the problem
moves downstream, so that it is cheaper to correct quality problems at the earliest possible point in
the process.
Flexible Manufacturing System allows the system to react in the case of changes, whether predicted
or unpredicted. FMS leads to Faster, Lower- cost/unit, Greater labor productivity, Greater machine
efficiency, Improved quality, Increased system reliability; Reduced parts inventories, Adaptability to
CAD/CAM operations. Shorter lead times. Though the implementation of FMS would initially turn out
be costly, it fully supports all kind of computer integrated & automated systems which are a
requirement of cost effective mass customization.
Made to Order (MTO) or Build to Order (BTO) is a demand driven production approach where a
product is scheduled and built in response to a confirmed order received for it from a final
customer. This reduces excessive inventory, hence reduces capital investment & reduces business

These are few of the concepts that are widely followed by the companies that are into mass customization,
although, the way in which these tools are implemented may differ from company to company.
Manufacturers in countries such as Mexico, China and Costa Rica, receive bits and pieces of orders every day
and construct the garments one at a time, boxing each individually and shipping them out daily to consumers'
households. With mass customization, the cost of the garment is higher, but the waste is dramatically
reduced. Producing only what is required or ordered. People will pay more for customized garments.
Combined together makes this a really profitable business for the retailer.
Less inventory is another reason made-to-order gurus are pushing mass customization. The costs to operate a
mass-customization initiative are definitely higher than a mass-produced one," says Pine. But the return on
investment is higher than in a mass-produced scenario, because money is lost through inventory and carrying
costs when retailers put products on sale.
Eliminating finished product stock can dramatically lower storage costs. Moreover, less surplus stock means
less depreciation when models become outdated. For example, in the fashion industry, a considerable E300
million (approximately U.S. $370 million) is wasted each year on unsold products and inaccurate planning. This
figure underscores the huge cost-saving potential of mass customization Sewing operator/ team creates one
garment at a time and moves onto the next (Make through or Modular System followed).
Flexible production based on the opportunities granted by todays robot automation is vital to turn ideas into
profitable goods. Delocalization & outsourcing has to be limited. Attention to individual customer need &

product quality; innovation in design & materials; flexibility of response to market demands and provision of
services rather than simply goods. The emphasis is shifting from price to value.

Supply chain management in Mass Customization

This strategy requires having specific processes in place to create the ability to deliver highly customized
products at the lowest total costs. The core of mass customization is the ability to increase product variety and
customization without increasing costs. The key to mass customization is to standardize early portions of the
production process and to postpone the task of differentiation until the last possible point in the supply chain
Fills out sales order based on variety
of options and individual customer
Sales order


Product Design/Production
Develops production plans

Purchase order

Fills and sends the order based on

time it needs to guarantee JIT

Creates material purchase order

Production plan


Verifying receipt of goods

Finished goods



Supply chain
The positioning of inventory and the location, number and structure of manufacturing and distribution
facilities must be designed to provide three capabilities:

Flexibility and responsiveness to deliver finished goods quickly




The supply chain of the apparel factory is comprised of:

(i) The fabric production plant;
(ii) Trims and accessories supplier
(iii) Apparel parts assembly section
(iv) Other sequenced, JIT and daily delivery suppliers
(v) The Consolidation Logistical Centre.
The goal of mass customization is to produce a high quality product with the shortest order to delivery time
and lower cost. Mass customization is accomplished by proactively developing product families around a
modular product architecture, implementing a flow manufacturing to achieve one-batch-size capability,
establishing a spontaneous supply chain around standard materials, creating agile systems to order process
based on product configuration and building parametric CAD templates with automatic CAD/CAM linkages.
In an ideal mass customization environment, the demand forecasting accuracy for the final products could
improve and even eliminate the demand forecasting for the final assembly by accessing to data on consumer
preferences expressed during order configuration. However, the uncertainty in demand continues existing for
the suppliers along the supply chain that have to react in a spontaneous way to face the customer orders
In logistical terms, a supplier can be considered like a station more inside the production chain. It is logical,
therefore, to extend to the suppliers the same JIT philosophy that is applied internally.

Virtual Enterprise
The objective of a virtual enterprise is to develop networks of partners with buyers and suppliers to make
more effective the answer and the cost of the supply chain, and to add value to the supply chain. Combining
the basic aptitudes of many companies inside the network, each virtual enterprise is more powerful and
flexible than what it could be as an addition of the isolated members. Each one of the companies that belongs
to the virtual enterprise is chosen by the excellence of their productive process. The integrated companies in a
virtual enterprise develop processes instead of producing final products. When all those processes work
united it is obtained in a successful way the final product.
A series of strategies that define the characteristics of a virtual enterprise exists:(i) Vertical Integration of a logistical network, to incorporate suppliers and buyers to the whole value chain;
(ii) Co-manufacturing, not in fact guided to the operations but to the product design, production of essential
components, application of technologies and holistic business generation;
(iii) Reduction of the supplier basis to some, strongly integrated in the business, to reduce in a drastic way the
(iv) Creation of a common information system for the operations, order delivery and planning, design and
realization of changes.
(v)Outsourcing of the support and management processes to specialized companies.


In these companies the suppliers have passed of playing a conventional role to go beyond their performance
like associate suppliers and to become nodes of character fully cooperative. In the first place, there is
cooperation to design new products and technologies. The suppliers are integrated in the buyer's operations
and a feeling of common destination exists. The supplier looks after the buyer and this looks after the
supplier's capacity to take care of his company. This progressive way, the components of the buyer's product
are based on the supplier's technology.
Obviously, all these requirements are not easily accessible for any company type, and this is what will
determine the applicability of the model. In spite of the advantages in terms of costs that the model of virtual
enterprise bears for the linked companies, it also takes place for these a loss of independence that few
companies are willing to assume. In all these situations it is difficult to determine where a company begins and
it finishes the other one, since the members of a virtual enterprise are closely interrelated. In a virtual
enterprise no company can offer for itself and in an independent way a final product for the consumer and to
say 'I made it' since the final product is possible because of the intimate collaboration of several companies
constituted as a extended virtual enterprise.

As in other industries, the Internet revolution has had a number of different impacts on the Apparel industry.
There are four primary areas where apparel manufacturers are applying Internet technologies:
(i) The procurement and supply chain operations;
(ii) Integrating Internet services, such as web and email access;
(iii) Sales, marketing and distribution systems; and
(iv) To attract on line customers.
The Internet facilitates e-procurement (applications for the purchase management via Internet that provide
the automation of the supply process of products and services from the order until the payment) across the
apparel industry. The low cost and high speed of this communication method is necessary for the mass
customization strategy to be economically feasible and to tell the apparel makers what you want them to
build. The advent of electronic commerce over the Internet has facilitated new relationships for connecting
with new supply chain partners, thereby significantly increasing the quantity and quality of interorganizational information flows. The authors demonstrate how the advent of web-based e-commerce
technologies is altering the information flows between the traditional players in the supply chain. The direct
channel between manufacturers and consumers is enabling mass customization, and is influencing the
production planning process. As a consequence, producers get better signals regarding the consumers
preferences and demand levels, which in turn leads to better inventory management and production planning.

Issues in Supply chain management for Mass Customization:

As customer involvement is so relevant in adopting a mass customization strategy, a firms communication
with customers becomes essential. Additionally suppliers also have an increasingly important role in the
success of mass customization because of high requirements towards features of outsourced modules, which
are used for customization..Unlike the traditional mass customization system company adopting this strategy
must be able efficiently produce, sort, ship, and deliver small quantities of highly differentiated products.
Therefore, Supply chain management is an essential piece of further progress of mass customization. It is
argued that supply chain management encompasses other mass customization enablers which can also exist
at the single facility level (i. e. supply chain may involve multiple plants using advanced manufacturing
technologies).Obviously, efficiency of supply chain management is highly dependent upon capabilities of
communication infrastructure.

Differences between Supply chain management in the mass customization framework and the mass
production framework can be illustrated by flow of information and entities, respectively. Figures below
illustrate the information flow and the roles that the customers and the supplier play throughout the supply
chain. Most function in mass production systems are centralized. Inventory and production levels are
internally determined based on the sales forecast .Customers are not involved directly in design or production
planning and therefore do not have much contact with the firm. Inventory levels are replenished inside the
firms warehouse when the amount of material gets below a certain predetermined safety stock. Since the
firm can order replenishment before inventory fully depletes, quick and direct communication and distribution
links between the firm and the supplier are not vital. Once production is complete, the finished product is
stored in a finished goods warehouse, waiting for customers order.
With the mass customization strategy, on the other hand, many of the important functions are decentralized.
Production is directly based on customer specifications, making it essential for the firm to have an efficient
means of dialogue with the customer. Because maintaining low inventory level is one of the primary strategy
with mass customizers, they must be able to procure materials from suppliers almost instantly. This need for
high coordination makes it very important to have quick and direct link with the suppliers
Implementation of mass customization and supporting supply chain management functions cover a wide
spectrum of problems and problems solving approaches which are identified and described throughout the
rest of the book. Some of the common systematic approaches to mass customization briefly introduced here
(i) Concurrent engineering,
(ii) Time based manufacturing
(iii) Postponement.
Any of these approaches address specific stages of supply chain management for mass customization.
Concurrent engineering addresses problems of joint product and process design with participation of
manufacturers, customers, and suppliers. This synergy between design and manufacturing allows for easy
manufacturing of products at a low product development costs.
In order to support product customization, product family architecture fulfills customers needs by configuring
and modifying well established modules and components. Designing product families for mass customization
involves identifying and capturing commonality among product design and manufacturing process and then
using this commonality to develop versatile product platforms.
Time based manufacturing addresses the critical problem of providing lead time as short as possible. Time is
treated as the strategic variable for establishing mass customization. This approach focuses on time
compression techniques to enhance responsiveness to customer needs. Its main objective is to reduce end to
end time to achieve quick responsiveness.
Postponement mainly pertains to organization of distribution in the mass customization framework although
it is so closely related to customer involvement and manufacturing issues. Postponement applied in the
distribution channel allows for the closer alignment with the customer and more rapid delivery.


Importance of Technologies & Automations in Mass Customization:

Information Technology & automations play a key role in mass customization in creating the linkage between
customers preference & the ability of a manufacturing team to construct products based on those
preferences. The increasing use of the Internet and improvements in order-taking technology has made the
apparel industry ripe for mass customization.
Everyone likes to focus on the sizing software and the Web site, but a big chunk of success is the back-end
piece where the manufacturing problems are solvedLands' End is not just a fancy Web site and clever sizing
software. The whole thing is about order tracking, manufacturing systems and putting barcodes on every
single garment, so that the garments status can be tracked at any desired point of time.
Better customer satisfaction leads to better customer retention. Giving a sufficient amount of options to the
consumer, in an uncomplicated manner, (a properly dimensioned solution space) is a given requirement.
An ideal MC process should hold a certain artificial intelligence that anticipates and understands what the
customer will most likely want. That in turn relies heavily on the already addressed need to collect the data
from previous customer interaction in order to create a learning system. The easier and faster (time is money,
in the end!) the process is the more likely it will be for your target group to accept your interaction proposal
and help you to achieve your goal: customer satisfaction and market share.
It is the manufacturers job to use the information received during the customer interaction effectively and
profitably. This is a continuous process which helps the supplier to understand his/ her customer better, every
time the customer makes a purchase or raises a query regarding any of the products, & hence enables him/
her to react effectively, which ultimately leads to increased customer loyalty & retention.
Technology used to quickly modify mass market product one at a time is called as mass customization & agile
manufacturing. This involves maximizing customer satisfaction & minimizing inventory cost in a cost effective
manner that maximizes the firms profitability. Mass customization requires automation in at least 3 processes
mentioned below:

Body Measurement
Pattern Design
Fabric Cutting


3D Body Scanners & Body Imaging

To achieve the perfect fit is one of the prime objectives of mass customization; this requires accurate
measurements of the customers body.

Anthropometric data on which Ready-to-Wear (RTW) sizing system was based has become
50% of the women surveyed are unable to find well fitted garments addressed to the current
sizing system.
3D body scanning technology is being viewed as a significant bridge between craftsmanship and
computer-aided design technologies.

Introduction to Body Scanning:

Barriers that restricted the effective implementation & use of 3D body scanners earlier

High priced
Body scanning systems were not effectively integrated with CAD systems & did not provide
design functions at the customers end in order to customize the design or fit of the particular
product. Thus, customers had to rely on the designers for the same, which bounded the
personalization process.
Incapability of 2D pattern transformation into 3D garments led to the examination of the
garment design & style on the grounds of fit & fall only after garment was actually constructed.
Non-interactive approach restrained creativity

Henceforth, a need for an affordable system that could facilitate body scanning, body modeling & design
virtual garments in an integrated manner rose up.
Characteristics & Working of the new & developed Body Scanning System:

Rapid, non-contact scanning of whole or partial body to obtain the size information
Creates customized body forms as a model for apparel design
Required size & fit can be manipulated & evaluated
Comprises of- a) Computer b) Circuit box & c) 5x8x8 (W*L*H) ft Dark booth
Performs triangulation measurement with the help of laser line projectors (that are safe for
naked eyes), CCD (Couple Charged Device- that detects the displacement of light on the body of
the subject) cameras & the control box.
All scanning and measuring commands are sent from the PC through the parallel port to the
control box, which drives the scanning units to proper positions, turns on the laser projectors,
and then triggers the cameras to grab images. The scanning units may stop 5-6 times to ensure
the whole body to be scanned.
A 3D body image is processed from merged scan lines
Range information is represented by the degree of brightness of each pixel on the body.



Body Measurement:

The front & back 3D images are combined to give the full body form
Dimension of the body can be measured on this 3D body form
Key measurements are associated to certain landmarks of the body(shoulder, bust, waist, crotch,
3 major steps to extract body dimensions from the 3D body forma) Locate body landmarks (neck, waist, bust, crotch, etc)
b) Process data using fitting techniques (convert b-spline curves to smooth curves)
c) Compute measurements ( circumference, distance, angle, etc)
More the control points, more is the fitting accuracy for b-spline to smooth curves

Body Modeling:

Generate a body form on the computer screen with the help of key
measurements from a pre-scanned body
Serves as a personalized model for style manipulation & fit adjustment
Allows the user/ designer to freely rotate & zoom the body form/ dress
form for viewing & measuring the body shape
Body needs to be divided into no. of relatively simple sub surfaces (e.g.
the upper torso can be divide into 7 sections- neck, shoulder, chest, waist,
abdomen, etc)
The 3D body form is developed from these various patches


Virtual Garment:

Virtual garment can be created by following the shape of the 3D body form & taking a desirable
ease to ensure the required personal fit.
The software provides the user a tool with which he/ she can cut through the garment & the
body form in horizontal & vertical directions in order to check & change the ease at any position
by specifying the dimension of the required added space.
Structure lines (seam lines, grain lines & outlines) can also be added
After the designing part, the garment can be virtually taken off the body form & flattened into 2D
patterns (unwrapping) for further modifications in an apparel CAD system.

3D Body

Extraction &
O/P File

2D Pattern
Methods &

2D to 3D

3D Body


Manipulation of body sizes & shapes of the scanned data for 3D visualization is made possible by
means of integration of the 3D body scanners & the apparel CAD systems
Its crucial to the process of linking the scanned data to CAD patterns (compatibility between
systems should be ensured for automatic generation & manipulation of patterns
Systems are web enabled, hence direct data transfer from the scanners over the local network or
over the web into existing CAD applications is possible
Allows 2D pattern alteration to 3D garment generation
Data recorded is in the form of (x,y,z) co-ordinate system & is stored in ASCII file system


XML (Extensible Markup Language):

Covers the missing link between 3D body scanners & 2D body alterations
Promotes efficient data exchange between 3D body scanners & CAD systems
A standard method based on XML file system of apparel CAD pattern is provided, that can fulfill
the need for pattern data exchange
Bidirectional transmission of data between the 3D body scan system & an apparel CAD system
Common definitions or signs of body landmarks to describe pattern generation methods & 3D to
2D transformation.

The scanners can record data in rdb, bin and ord files and is compatible with others such as VMRL,
ASCII, Excel and IGES. It is also able to automatically load, save data files and export measurement to CAD
systems; therefore exporting 3D data for pattern making, garment draping simulation and 3D body
tracking is possible.
Types of 3D Body Scanners available:

Laser scanning: these scanners work on the basis of a light-plane and triangulation method. A
laser is used as a light source and a technology called CCD (couple charged device) scans the field
of view. The CCD detects the displacement of the light on a body. Body scanners based on laser
technology are able to scan about 60,000 points per second.
Structured or White Light scanning: body scanners with structured light technology work with
projectors. They project a series of white-light stripes on to the subject and are captured via
cameras. The 3D shape of the body is described through the curve of the stripes over the subject.
Studies have shown that during the scanning sequence light projection systems are faster than
laser based systems. But for measurement extraction, these types of scanners sustain a bit more
time (Istook and Hwang, 2001).
Human Solutions (formally TechMath): Human Solutions 3D body scanner (eg. Vitus Smart XXL)
is based on laser technology. Using 8 sensor heads and an optical triangulation process, it
acquires approximately 140 body dimensions in a 3D image of the body, in 12 seconds. Data can
be exported in ASCII, OBJ, STL and DXF formats (Human Solutions, 2009).
Cyberware (Digisize): these whole body 3D scanners (eg. Model WBX) extract over 100
measurements of the body in 17 seconds. 4 scan heads collect 3D measurements every 2 mm
from head to toe to create an accurate 3D data set. The scanning process captures an array of
digitized points represented by x, y, and z coordinates for shape. 3D rendering tools allow the
operator to view the 3D scan data immediately on completion of the scan (Cyberware, 2009).
Wicks and Wilson (TriForm/ TriBody): these body scanners use white light to capture the 3D
scan data in approximately 12 seconds via 8 camera views. Stripes of safe white light are used to
capture the 3D shape of a person. The harmless light contains no invisible rays, lasers or other
radiation. Resulting images are analysed automatically by the TriBody software and processed to
produce a 3D point cloud model containing approximately 1.5 million 3D co-ordinates (x,y,z).
Resulting 3D scans can be saved in different output formats (Wilks and Wilson, 2009).
Telmat (SYMCAD): Telmats turbo flash/3D System for Measuring and Creating Anthropometric
Database (SYMCAD) utilises structured light. A set of white light stripes is projected onto the
subject for data capture. Its new ST (Special Tracking) version applies 3D digitising to its data
capture for accuracy due to errors with natural body sway movements and underwear
reflectance (Telmat Industrie, 2009).

[TC] Body Measurement System: *TC+s Nx16 body scanner system is a 3D measuring system
that utilises optical lenses that produce a digital copy of surface geometry of the body. Based on
white light technology and Phase Mapping Profilometry (PMP), it scans the whole body in
approximately 8 seconds (*TC+, 2009). Similar to Telmats SYMCAD, it uses light sources to
project structured lines / patterns and cameras to capture the image. It also produces
approximately 140 body measurements with a 3D body model via point cloud data form.

Advantages of using a 3D Body Scanner & an Integrated CAD System:

Accurate clothing fit

Data generated can be used for the creation of dress-forms (body-forms), mannequins & avatars
(for online shopping)
Data generated can be used for creating size charts through anthropometric study, which, by
traditional methods would turn out to be a time taking, tedious & costly process.
Facilitates mass customization
Drives away the confusion between customers regarding various size charts by different buyers
Enables virtual model fit trials that enhances online shopping experience
Fundamental for production & fabric consumption
Significant bridge between craftsmanship & CAD technologies
3D body scanning can facilitate a customized fit for any no. or type of people
Captures an accurate 3D representation of a garment in relationship to the body, minimizing
visual distractions
Measurements obtained are reproducible & are more precise than those obtained through
traditional methods
Quick, non-contact, accurate & efficient way of measuring a subject
Eliminates likelihood of invalid, unreliable & subjective measurement procedures & vague
judgment of posture
Foundation for specified batch & individual pattern construction
Scanned data from a particular body scanner can be exchanged within other systems, thus
increasing flexibility
No challenges regarding land-marking, as in case of traditional method (crotch position, etc)
An end to standardization as customers now demand choice variety & unique (personalized)
Reduces lead time thus making the entire mass customization process faster, more effective,
flawless & thus satisfying the customers beyond expectations
Shifts the focus of mass production to mass customization with individualized sizing & design
features with competitive pricing & fast turnarounds.


Formulation of a recruitment strategy in order to recruit volunteers for body scanning by offering
them incentives in order to encourage participation
Subjects are required to wear only undergarments in case of some scanners
Image based problems, since theres a requirement of the subject to be still. Abrupt breathing
also affects the accuracy of the body image generation
Shadows casts (due to hair) is another problem, in case of light controlled scanners
In case of White Light Scanners, color mismatched undergarments may pose a problem

Single Ply Cutting:

Traditionally, multi or high-ply cutters cost about $250,000. This amount is normally out of the reach of
small to medium size companies because they do not have the sales volume and financing for such a
cutter. Companies undergoing mass customization dont work with big lot sizes. There is a lot of variation
in the styles & the fabrics used. Thus, multi-ply cutting or cutting of huge lays of fabric is not required &
isnt feasible. This brought in the concept of single ply cutters which could facilitate unit garment
production as per the customizations regarding the fit, design & quality of the garment.
At one time, single-ply cutters were only used for special cutting requirements, such as leather goods. It is
impractical to cut more than one animal skin at a time. However, single ply cutters have become a prime
requirement for the manufacturers executing mass customization. Various companies supply single ply
cutters. Few of them are Lectras Topspin, Bullmer Unocut, Gerbers DCS 1500, Eastman, Aristo, Kuris
Wastema & Investronica.
Single-ply cutters offer many benefits to small or medium companies:
1. The relatively low cost ($50 60,000) of the single-ply cutter versus the cost of high-ply cutters
($250,000). The high-end single-ply cutter could cost up to $150,000 if all the features were ncluded.
2. Niche Markets such as the furniture industry which deals with engineered prints. Single-ply cutters
are used so that the engineered prints will meet the expectation of the consumer.
3. Many small companies have a need for a low volume of pieces that range over a variety of sizes. For
example, a company may need to cut 2 pieces of size 8, 3 of size 10, and so on. Single-ply or low-ply
cutting is more effective in such a scenario.
4. Single-ply cutters are extremely useful for producing samples or product prototypes that are used to
obtain early market feedback.
5. Single-ply cutters are accurate and reliable and do not have expensive blades. Old blades can be
discarded and economically replaced with new blades.
6. Single-ply cutters support the concept of mass customization - defined as the mass production of
individually customized goods and services. Today many consumers are unhappy with the fit of the
clothing they buy and are willing to pay a premium for customized apparel. According to one consumer
survey, 36% of consumers are willing to pay up to 15% more for customized products. Most consumers do
not order large quantities of these items at one time, but they may order one or two identical items.
Single-ply cutters are ideal in this environment.
7. Single-ply cutting allows manufacturers to produce a variety of high-quality, customized goods while
reducing excess inventory and costs.


DCS 1500

DCS 2500
Single Ply Cutters by Gerber Technology

Fast & convenient Single Ply Fabric Feeders are also made available by Gerber Technology to ensure the
proper feeding of the single ply fabric to be cut. The Gerber Niebuhr Single-Ply Fabric Feeding device is
used in conjunction with conveyorized, automated cutting. It features Gerber Niebuhr's electronically
controlled cradle feed to accurately feed fabric onto the cutting surface with little or no tension. It allows
single-ply cutting to run continuously or intermittently until the fabric roll is exhausted.
These can be effectively used by mass customizers to cut many styles and fabrics. Built low to the floor
and featuring an optional motorized cradle tilt device, the feeder makes roll loading easy and quick.
Accurate edge control is assured under difficult conditions by the high-quality infrared edge control
device. The Single-Ply Feeder can be moved to the production line quickly on its own locking wheels. If the
cutter is required to move to other tables with conventional spreading, the Single-Ply Feeder can be
quickly moved aside to provide maximum floor space.

Image courtesy: Gerber Technology

Single Ply Cutters by Gerber Technology


Digital Printing:

Digital printing has become very attractive as a method for decorating textiles. The primary reason is the
requirement of 1 to 1 yards of individualized fabric for individual orders. Because of the efficiencies it
brings to the production process, textile inkjet printing not only reduces costs normally incurred with
screen printing, but also drastically improves lead times and opens up worlds of design possibilities.
Once digital inks were produced from textile dyestuffs, many textile printers began to see other
advantages over graphic inks. The dyestuffs could be fixed exactly as they would be if rotary printed.
This provided a finished fabric with commercial fastness properties. The digitally-printed goods had
excellent resistance to laundering and sunlight, and the colors would not crock or rub off onto other
fabrics. The process is not as complicated as many believe, as long as you follow a few guidelines.
Informed selection of fabric, ink and equipment can greatly simplify the process and allow the printer to
produce a superior product.
Selection of Ink:
Currently, there are four types of dyestuffs available for commercial use as digital inks. Each type is
capable of printing on a particular type (or types) of fiber. They are:

Fiber Reactive Inks Cotton, linen, silk, rayon and many other plant-derived fibers including jute
and hemp can all be printed with fiber-reactive inks. The colors are very bright and the light
fastness is appropriate for apparel and home furnishings. Because the dye in the ink chemically
reacts with the fiber, it actually becomes part of the fiber, giving excellent wash fastness. Fiber
reactive inks require the use of fabric that is pretreated for printing with them. Such fabric is
commercially available today from a wide variety of sources. Once printed, the fabric must be
steamed and washed, which is much simpler than many printers realize.

b) Acid Inks Nylon, silk, wool and leather can all be printed with acid inks. As with fiber reactive
inks, acid inks give very bright colors and have overall better light fastness than fiber reactives,
making them appropriate for outdoor flags. Acid dyes also react with the fibers giving very good
wash fastness. As with reactive inks, the fabric must be pretreated with materials to facilitate
their fixation and again, this pretreated fabric is widely available commercially. Also, as with
reactives, post-processing of materials printed with acid ink involves steaming and washing the
fabric (with the exception of leather).

Disperse Inks Disperse inks in almost all cases are limited to being used on polyester. The colors
can be bright, but in general are not quite as bright as those of the acid and reactive inks.
Disperse dyes sublime, or become a gas when heated to very high temperatures. Once they
become gaseous, they are absorbed by the polyester fibers. The dye condenses and becomes
physically trapped inside, thus giving very good resistance to laundering.

d) Pigment Inks At first glance, pigment inks seem to be the best choice for printing textiles. They
tend to have excellent light fastness and can be used on all fibers. Fixation is very simple,
involving only heat or UV curing. However, pigment inks must contain a resin to glue the
pigments onto the fiber. The addition of this resin limits the amount of pigment that can be
included in the ink. Therefore, a pigment ink that contains a high level of color typically has less
resin, and thus has lower wash fastness. Pigment inks with good wash fastness typically have less
color in them. Because many of these resins cure, like glue, when heated, they cannot be used
with thermal (bubble jet) printers.


For acid and reactive inks, a steamer and washer will be necessary to fix the dyes and subsequently
wash off any excess dye.
Pigment Pigments are the simplest to process and involve only curing in an oven. Typically, ink
manufacturers recommend a cure at 325-350 F for 30-90 seconds. Some print shops use their transfer
presses to accomplish this task.
Disperse For disperse-transfer or dye sublimation, paper is printed and subsequently transferred in a
press to polyester at 380-410 F for 30-90 seconds. For direct- printed disperse inks, the fabric is cured or
thermosoled at 380-410 F and, depending on the fabric, is subsequently washed and dried to remove
excess unfixed dye.
Reactive Reactive-printed fabrics are steamed to fix the dyes. In non-pressurized or atmospheric
steamers where the material is not rolled up, the fabric is steamed for 8-10 minutes at 212-214F. The
time required for reactive dye fixation in pressurized steamers varies from manufacturer to manufacturer
but is typically in the 20-30 minute range. Once reactive dyes have been steamed, the fabric must be
washed. Because of the amount of unfixed color that is removed in the washing process, its generally
recommend that reactive prints be washed in two or more cycles, starting with a cold rinse and followed
by progressively hotter washes. By doing the washing in steps, a limited amount of unfixed color is
removed in each cycle, thus reducing the chance of back-staining the fabric with loose dye. In some
washing units, there are multiple washing troughs, allowing multiple cycles to be performed in one pass
through the unit. Drying the fabric can be performed with many types of machinery, from dedicated
textile drying units to transfer presses. Many print shops use residential tumble dryers.
Acid As with reactive dyes, acid dyes are steamed in the fixation step. The temperatures are the same
but the times are roughly doubled, to about 20 minutes in atmospheric steamers (40 minutes for heavy
materials and green/turquoise shades) and about 4060 minutes in pressurized steamers. The washing
procedure for acid dye-printed fabrics is essentially identical to reactive-printed fabrics, starting with cold
rinsing followed by successively hotter washes.
The Process:
Because of the fabrics inherent flexibility, which varies from warp to weft & around the bias, it is difficult
to guide under the digital printer heads. Stork Textile Printing Group of the Netherlands showed the first
system to the industry in 1995 and has since been followed by many digital printers like Digital Graphics,
Konica, etc.
The actual method of printing, though, is only one of the technical difficulties. The ability to print a wide
color gamut while controlling color density needs to be considered & different dyes types are required for
different fabrics. These inks must not drastically affect the feel & drape of the fabric; they must be light
fast, stand up to constant friction, retain color vibrancy and, when used in production environment rather
than sampling, must be washable and/ or dry cleanable.
To speed up the printing process, Rimslow Pvt. Ltd., in Australia, has introduced Steamex, a steaming
unit that allows users of inkjet textile printers to cure the printed fabric immediately after the printing
process is completed. Before any printing is carried out, however, designs must be developed in a digital
format that can be read by the printers, and this requires cooperation between the design software
companies, the ink manufacturers & the printing machine developers.


Integration between 3D scanners, CAD Systems, Digital Printing and Single Ply Feeding &

There has been and will be much speculation as to where new applications of digital printing will be found
in the future. Recent improvements in automatic marker making & single ply cutting could make digital
printing & cutting a synchronized operation. The single ply would be printed to a pre-defined pattern
&marker, so that the fabric used in the garment is printed, thus saving time & ink wastage. Fabric would
then move to the cutting area where it is cut as a single ply.
The next step would be addressing checks, stripes & motif matching. Instead of laying the pattern pieces
into the marker to match, patterns could be printed onto the product pieces to match. This would enable
the tightest plain fabric marker to be used. The layout of the checks, stripes & motifs would be
automatically positioned on the pattern pieces (rather than the other way round) and printed resulting
inconsiderable fabric saving & hence cost. Taking this idea further, the customer could select where any
part of the design should lie on the finished fabric.
In one scenario, a customer walks into a clothing boutique one afternoon to buy a new spring dress. The
customer dons a form-fitting bathing suit and steps into a booth where her exact measurements are
taken by a digital scanner. She then selects the style of the dress she prefers, then her favorite material,
then the pattern, even the colors of the individual flowers in the pattern. Within 24 hours the fabric has
been digitally printed and digitally cut and sewn and the dress is ready for pickup the next day in exactly
her size, favorite pattern, and favorite colors. This concept of mass customization is already a reality
presented by TC2, a not-for-profit organization based in Cary, North Carolina involved in promoting the
advancement of technology in the sewn goods industry. Artists and designers are now working on designs
at home or in branch offices. Their finished designs are downloaded directly to digital print machines in
print shops or even in their customers offices. Custom digitally printed silk ties are now being offered for
prices that the average consumer can afford. Low cost digital T-shirt printers are now available that can
print custom designs quickly and efficiently.
The applications for digital fabric printing are endless. With the low cost, fast turnaround and unlimited
flexibility, it has begun to take over large portions of the print-for pay market and with advancements in
software, hardware, and chemical technology being made every day, the old way of printing may be going
the way of the dinosaur.

Image courtesy: Gerber Technology


Virtual Modeling for an Interactive Online Shopping Experience:

The new-age customers are keener towards purchasing products online on account of their tight work
schedule which doesnt permit them the time for going to a nearby shopping mall & undergo the tiring
shopping process. Customers are looking beyond traditional retail venues for shopping alternatives &
customized products.
Advantages of Virtual Fitting:

Virtual fit & modeling allows the customer start be at the top of the value chain thus satisfying
their demand for choice & individuality.
Provides sustainable competitiveness to the retailer
It facilitates high level of interactivity, hassle free, time saving, pre-purchase visual assessment of
It aims on providing an optional fit & provides a revolutionary online shopping experience
Reduces costs due to fit trial sessions undertaken by exorbitant live models
Increased accuracy of targeted fit that results in reduced sample making
Avoids the task of travelling for numerous fitting sessions for the customers
Size recommendation function helps consumers to identify the right size of clothing
Thus aims at improving customer satisfaction & hence reduces returns due to poor fit

Types of Virtual Dressing Rooms:


Video Virtual Dressing Rooms

Robotic Virtual Dressing Rooms
Motion Detector Virtual Dressing Rooms
Web Cam Virtual Dressing Rooms

Online retailers can choose to offer amongst the following virtual dressing rooms:

Statistics first: only 9% of clothing is sold on internet. In comparison 50% of computers are sold online; 40% of
books are sold online. Apparel is one the most difficult categories to be sold on internet.
Overall apparel retail is growing some 3% a year, the share sold on internet is growing much more rapidly. The
figures vary, but some high estimates have put the online clothing at 35% share by 2018.
E-commerce benefits retailers more than 9%


Buying clothes on internet lacks two distinct features: touch and try. Until these two have been solved, the
online apparel retail follows organic growth pattern, with dramatic growth to follow after the technology steps
Importance of solving these features can be seen from looking at return rates and the reason of returns. The
average reason of return because the color did not match what was seen on screen is less than 5%. The reason
that the fabric was unexpected is around 10-15% reasons of returns. And the poor fit is the reason of returns a
whopping 50-70%.
Building tools to help people shop, deepens their relationships with the retailers. It takes some of the
uncertainty out of the shopping experience when shopping remotely and it gives the customer a level of
Technologies aspiring to help apparel internet sales:

Styling advice (akin to a sales assistant suggesting: "if you like this shirt, you should consider these
Augmented reality: RichRelevance and incredibly cool Fittingbox; (Fashionista)
Size recommendation:
Return services (return shipping is still the most common way to tackle the poor fit): Newgistics;
Visual Size Guide which lets customer see which sizes fit them best:
Virtual model generation as per the customer measurements & choices regarding ethnicity, hair style,


Benefits of Mass Customization:

Differentiation through individuality

New ways to cut costs- through direct interactions with the customers & avoiding excess inventory
(raw material & finished goods).
Postponement/negative cash flow
Increase in flexibility and scalability
Open Innovation & co-design
Long-lasting customer retention
Innovation Leadership of the company that implements them
Higher incomes agents profit margin in mass production might fall into manufacturers account,
moreover customers are ready to pay higher price for customized product
Better needs analysis customers through designing their own products provide some information
related to their preferences
Manufacturer less endangered by demand and preferences changes (market turbulences)
Higher opportunities to assess alternatives
Purchase is possible regardless of place and time (in case of purchase via Internet)
Customers convenience


Challenges in Mass Customization:

Pine (1993) used market turbulence characterized by unstable and unpredictable demand levels;
heterogeneous desires; price, quality and style consciousness; high levels of buyer power; competitive
intensity; product differentiation; and market saturation to identify the forces shifting the focus of
manufacturing from mass production to the new paradigm of mass customization.

Effective flow of information from the customers end to the production floor & hence the artisans
end whore responsible for the customization process.
Mass customization requires extremely skillful & multi-tasking operators.
Extremely short product development cycles & product life cycles, as compared to that in mass
Speed & lead time: The gap between the customers' expectation and the physical limit of time
required by a customized production often is significant.
Not everything about a product is customizable as compared to bespoke or MTM, since this could
turn out to be very expensive.
Implicit domain knowledge is not easy to be made explicit in a customization system, i.e., its
important for the customers to know exactly what they want or need.
The ability to create the garment to fit the consumer.
A robust measuring system to determine the perfect fit. (One of the reasons why Levis lacked to
reach the sales potential the company strived for and now, the custom line is only available at certain
Levi's flagship bricks-and-mortar stores.)
It takes management time and attention, with them saying this is the future of apparel, rather than
trying it out and if it doesn't work, saying that it's no loss.
Offering choices may not automatically be of value to customers. Excess mental load on account of
additional choices, that dont interest the customer, can discourage commitment of sales, impose
extra sales effort or even chase customers away. Thus, it is important that the product variety offered
to the customer matches the perceived value.
Synchronizing choice between features, product attributes and options with customer appreciation
and willingness to pay is a major challenge in the customization business.
The in-store customization efforts are more expensive than online initiatives.
Ordering custom clothes, no matter how appealing, requires a change in customer behavior. That
transition may keep progress slow, but it will be steady, for sure.
Implementing the technological advancements may be costly for the small manufacturing firms. Thus,
a thorough study regarding which technology would be cost effective & profitable to the company
should be done before implementing them.
Customization to individual customers' needs intuitively leads to small quantities and higher varieties;
hence it becomes difficult to reach the necessary scale of economy.
High variety and small lot sizes, the tasks of scheduling, organizing, and managing categories,
schedules, and division of work can become daunting, which drives additional cost (particularly in the
overhead) that could defeat the efficiency goal set by mass customization. Understanding &
effectively implementing various algorithms & IT solutions, in order to manage this complexity, is yet
another challenge for many companies.

The characteristic of a good ("smart") mass customization system is that it addresses these challenges in a
meaningful way.


Capabilities of Mass Customization:

Companies that master mass customization successfully have found an integrated way to address these
challenges. The key to profiting from mass customization is to see it as a set of organizational capabilities that
can supplement and enrich an existing system. While specific answers on the nature and characteristics of
these capabilities are clearly dependent from industry context or product characteristics, three fundamental
groups of capabilities determine the ability of a firm to mass customize.
1. Solution Space Development: First and foremost, a company seeking to adopt mass customization
has to be able to understand what the idiosyncratic needs of its customers are. This is in contrast to
the approach of a mass producer, where the company focuses on identifying central tendencies
among its customers needs, and targets them with a limited number of standard products.
Conversely, a mass customizer has to identify the product attributes along which customer needs
diverge the most. Once this is understood, the firm knows what is needed to properly cover the
needs of its customers. It can draw up the boundaries of its playground, clearly defining what it is
going to offer and what it is not the firms solution space is defined. Mass customization implies by
necessity the development of vast solution spaces, thus escalating the cost and complexity of
understanding customer needs, in terms of spotting differentiating attributes, validating product
concepts, and collecting customer feedback.
Innovation toolkits: Software applications that can empower large pools of customers to
translate their preferences into unique product variants by themselves, enabling each of
them to highlight possibly unsatisfied needs
Outcome-driven innovation: Methods to identify latent customer needs in an analytic way
and to transfer those into product functionalities.
Customers experience intelligence: Definition of adequate processes to continuously collect
data on past customer transactions/ behaviors/ experiences and to translate this data into
information on customer preferences

Robust Process Design: A second critical requirement for mass customization is related to the
relative performance of the value chain. Specifically, it is crucial that the increased variability in
customers requirements does not lead to significant deterioration in the firms operations and
supply chain (Pine et al. 2003). This can be achieved through robust value chain design defined as
the capability to reuse or re-combine existing organizational and value chain resources to fulfill
differentiated customers needs. With robust process design customized solutions can be delivered
with near mass production efficiency and reliability. This condition proves to be viable for already set
up mass producing companies that are looking forward to work with the concept of mass
Flexible automation: Using modern "digital" manufacturing technologies that enable high
variance in operations at low switching cost.
Process modularity: Reusing and recombining existing organizational and value-chain
resources to fulfill differentiated customers needs
Adaptive human capital: People are a necessary element of a mass customization strategy,
especially for their capacity to deal with new and ambiguous task.



Choice Navigation: Finally, the firm must be able to support customers in identifying their own
problems and solutions, while minimizing complexity and burden of choice. When a customer is
exposed to too many choices, the cognitive cost of evaluation can easily outweigh the increased
utility from having more choices, creating the paradox of choice: too many choices reduce
customer value instead of increasing it (Huffman and Kahn 1998; Piller 2005). As such, offering more
product choices can easily prompt customers to postpone or suspend their buying decisions, and,
even more worryingly, to classify the vendor as difficult to deal with and hence undesirable.
Therefore, the third requirement needed to ensure successful adoption of mass customization is the
organizational capability to simplify the navigation of the companys product assortment.
Assortment matching: Negotiating the characteristics of an existing assortment with a
model of the customers needs in order to propose possible solutions to the customers
without requiring significant effort and time in the search process
Fast-cycle trial-and-error learning in co-design toolkits: Empower customers to build
models of their own needs and to learn about appropriate solutions to their needs by
interactively testing the match between these models and the available options.
Embedded configuration: Developing smart products that understand how they should
adapt to usage conditions and re-configure itself accordingly to a user profile.

Mass customization is a process rather than a destination. It is not about achieving a perfect state of mass
customization. What matters to most companies instead is to continuously increase their overall capabilities.
A step towards understanding & implementing, by designing a value chain that creates value from serving
different customers differently, the above mentioned capabilities of mass customization is called mass
customization thinking.
(Reference Salvador et al. 2009)


Personalization V/S Mass Customization:

The difference between Personalization & Mass Customization- A never ending debate. Kasanoff (2009)
recently provided a good definition of personalization: "After years of trying to simplify [the definition of]
personalization, I finally got it down to two words: Personal = Smarter. The more you customize, the smarter
you get. The smarter you get, the more competitive you become. It really is that simple. Doing it, of course,
takes a lot of work."
Personalization is using technology to accommodate the differences between people. Done right, it's a
win/win strategy for providing a better outcome for both the service provider and the individuals involved. For
e.g., if a company gives their clients the option to tell their service center when and how to contact them or if
a doctor gives a patient a test to determine which treatment will work best for her before the treatment
starts, that's personalization. Mass customization is a process for implementing personalization. In some
respects, personalization is a goal and mass customization is the way to accomplish that goal. But we need to
be careful
about defining or debating semantics. Both personalization and mass customization push a company towards
being more responsive to the marketplace and thus being more nimble. Both result in a firm that can react
faster and more effectively to volatility. Both enable a company to build defendable competitive advantages,
because both require a firm to track, understand and accommodate the needs of its customers. In the end, it
is not the term, but the result and value created by applying these concepts.


*A Case Study of*

Introduction: is a Chennai (India) based mass customizing & e-retailing company. They primarily focus on
womenswear offering a wide range of products, viz, dresses, tunic tops, skirts, pants, jackets, accessories &
jewelry, on their website. The focus of the company is to understand & to capture the US market & set their
own paradigm in the realm of mass customization thus build the companys brand name in the process.
The company caters customized solutions for all sizes possible; a majority of their customers are plus size.
Their products exhibit exquisite, handcrafted, embroidered, sequined & hand block printed artworks that
distinguishes them as a fine amalgamation of the eastern ethnicity with the western high fashion. These well
fitted garments are delivered to the customers in a matter of 4 days anywhere in the US, after the order
placement. A customer can opt for a customized product for a mere fee of $7.5 more than a standard product
& can return any product within a time period of a month with the entire price of the product refunded in
their account.
Mass customizing strategies used in eSHAKTI in context of the following parameters:

Order Taking:

Marketing Approach:

Each product offered on the eSHAKTI website has a unique product code. Customer can order a
customized product in a similar way as a standard one. Each order made by a customer has a
peculiar order ID, which represents the no. & types of products ordered by the customer in that
particular order.
MTO is followed in lot sizes of one
Order taking process- Starts with order coordination; product development & design; product
validation & manufacturing engineering (operation breakdown & simplification); order fulfillment
and post order service.
Mode E: Flexible resource call-off MC is followed

Fixed Solution Space- The no. of customizing solutions provided to the customers is restricted to
style, fit & comfort (measurements) in the designs offered, in order to avoid complexity &
confusion amongst the customers. Customers can input their measurements (across shoulder,
across chest, bust girth, waist girth, under bust girth, hip girth, bicep, height & bra-cup size) for
custom fit or select a size from their size chart for a standard fit. Customers can also opt for a
style customization in terms of the served options, viz, neckline type, sleeve type & dress length
(depending upon the style); or opt for a standard style as shown on the webpage.
Thus the customer has the following options to choose from- standard size/ standard fit,
standard size/ custom fit, custom size/ standard fit & custom size/ custom fit. Customers can also
address their special comments regarding the design or construction of the product in the
special instruction tab.
The company promises unique solution to individual customer, facilitating the customer to be a
co-designer to create her own unique solution.

Custom Relationship Management (CRM):

Direct Interaction- one to one interaction with the customers; keeping a past record of past
interactions with the customer; learning relationships


Supply Chain Management

Procurement of the fabric is done on the basis of Design team approval.

Fabric is ordered on the basis of sales ratio.
Procurement is carried out in two categories
1. Purchasing ready good if available
2. Ordering with specification with adequate lead time.
Physical parameters of the fabric are checked by the Inspection department.
Reordering of Raw materials is done on the basis of:1. Consumption rate of raw materials
2. Forecast by the design team
3. Manufacturing lead time
4. Buffer stock
Reordering point is such that there is no stock out.
Inventory system is classified in to three classes:
1. A class-Material consisting 85% of total material
2. B class-Less used fabric
3. C class-Trims & Accessories
Logistic is carried by UPS couriers and booking is done everyday till 12 oclock.
All the material tracking is done on the basis of eShakti Bar-coding software at different stages.

Production Process & Planning:

User Innovation or Interactive Value Creation- eSHAKTI promotes its products by means of
bloggers or lead customers who are chosen by the marketing team. The bloggers are
provided incentives in terms of discounts or store credit & are provided with a sample of the
garment of their choice. This works as a tool for market research for the company.
Continuous interactions between the company & the customers
High pace product developments, keeping in mind the customers preferences & choices.
The motive is to ensure that every communication between the customer & the company is a
positive experience.

Make through system is followed with the help of the expertise of highly skilled labor force.
Agile manufacturing- the information is shared throughout the supply chain
Made to Order- production starts as soon as a customer confirms an order
Robust Process Design- flexibility to incur any change in the design with an effective & speedy

Technologies used:

eSHAKTI uses an Apparel CAD system, Optitex, for the pattern making process
A version of SAP is used for real time data updating & extraction


ARTICLES: CRM Strategies & Interactive value creation with users and customers- by Prof. Frank Piller
JOURNALS: Textile & Apparel Technology & Management (TATM)
Pine, B. Joseph, II. (1993) Mass Customization: The New Frontier in Business Competition