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CPQ allows customer-driven ?design and visualization

Configure price quote (CPQ) software allows users to build custom products from a database that represents a single source of truth about specifications so that the resulting product is consistent and viable. The software guides the user, who may be a buyer from a business or a consumer, into answering a series of questions about what they want, and then generates a digital version of the desired product. CPQs may also be used by salespeople within the selling company to assist buyers.

Without a CPQ, companies often have to rely on information scattered throughout databases, Excel spreadsheets, or contained in the minds of experienced salespeople. “Until you get product specifications under control, it’s impossible to be efficient in other ways,” said Nick Thompson, vice president of product marketing at Tacton, a provider of manufacturing software solutions.

When paired with visualization, CPQs allow prospective customers to design and see their own products at a time when self-service is often the preferred mode. “Research shows that buyers spend only 17% of their time talking to suppliers while they spend 27% of their time conducting independent research online,” said Thompson. The customer experience for B2B has lagged that of B2C, where consumers have long been able to see a version for products such as furniture and clothing that reflects their personal choice of style and color.

B2B products are generally much more complex, so part of the value of the Tacton Smart Commerce Solutions, which include its CPQ and visualization, is its built-in intelligence, which applies constraint rules to the design. “Using our CPQ, you can’t create an unconfigurable product, even for complicated products such as industrial-strength tractors,” observed Thompson. “You don’t need technical knowledge.”

The resulting product is rendered in 3D, and Tacton recently introduced an augmented reality version in which the customer can look at a tablet and walk around in a virtual environment. “For a medical technology product, this would allow a prospective purchaser to visualize how it would look in their lab or office,” Thompson said. The visualization software, which includes augmented reality, has become a more popular option since the advent of COVID-19 has imposed limitations on travel and in-person interactions.

In addition to providing a better customer experience, CPQs also can shorten the sales cycle, save sales staff time, and reduce the burden on company engineers. Tacton CPQ integrates with some applications out of the box, and with others through an open API. “One of our customers, a German truck company, is saving 70%—80% of its engineering resources by using Tacton CPQ. It automatically generates CAD drawings when the buyers select the features they want and things such as the location of the controls.”

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