In our data-tracking era, the consumer electronics industry has so far done a poor job satisfying customers’ growing demand for greater customization and personalization, especially compared to other mass market sectors like the apparel industry, automobiles, some technology segments (Internet, software, PCs) or the real-estate.
So when Ultimate Ears announced earlier this year that they would let consumers entirely customize and personalize their latest wireless and completely waterproof speaker, the Boom 3, for just $30 more, I knew this was something special that I had to try for myself.
First, I was really impressed by the ease of use of the web-based application, myBOOM Studio, that allowed me to customize the speaker in less than 5 minutes by selecting from thousands of possibilities of fabrics, colors, and patterns for different parts of the speaker such as the end caps (top and bottom), hang loop, volume buttons, as well as add a personal text—I was not very inspired so I just put our company name, Atherton Research, but you have 20 characters to let your imagination run wild.
And then, about three weeks later, I received the speaker fully personalized as I designed it.
Having visited several factories in China during customer visits, I understand the intricate complexity of the consumer electronics supply chain and how hard it is to be able to offer a truly customizable mass-market product.
I was so intrigued by what was happening behind the scene that I went and I asked the folks at the Irvine, California-based company, and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Logitech, a Swiss maker of tech accessories (keyboards, mouse…), how they managed to accomplish that incredible tour de force.
Behind the assembly line
Once a customer has chosen their designs and submitted an order, the Ultimate Ears factory team has already produced and or sourced the different components, then they begin assembling the chosen parts, which takes about 10 days to build. After that, the speaker is processed for shipping which is why the 3-4 week timeline for producing and receiving the speaker.
A truly unique consumer electronics product
While the customization feature is available for other consumer electronics, such as Moto Maker, this is the first time I’ve seen such a solution in the audio and portable speakers space. “Ultimate Ears prides itself on sound and design and we’ve always seen our speakers as an expression of our customer’s unique taste in style and music. We view this as an opportunity to look beyond a consumer electronic, and rather making it a statement of your style/personality similar to some brands present in the fashion or apparel industry,” said Ultimate Ears.
Reworking the supply chain
Ultimate Ears had to create new functions and develop new capabilities within their teams in order to design and develop a made-to-order structure. “And because we had the objective to include everyone in the Ultimate Ears family, it was critical for us to offer laser etching in almost any languages. It was interesting for our multi-cultural team to figure out how to manage certain characters including “ñ”, “ç” or a 囧,” they confided.
Why it costs $30 more
The personalized Boom 3 costs $30 more ($150 with the charging base) than the non-custom version. “We would have loved to be able to offer this level of customization to our fans with no cost added, but this is indeed the true cost of this new feature. The cost of having to develop our new supply chain capabilities, our new shipment procedures and systems and more,” said Ultimate Ears.
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