Mass customization does not always equal to Variety

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Masscustomization does not always equal to Variety

The advancement in technology and the internet today, and theprogression of product techniques have led to a hot debate about thepractice of mass customization. This gradual development oftechnology has made many companies provide customized goods andservices with short lead times, with low costs, a high degree offlexibility, high quality, as well as at a large scale production.However, Zipkin (81) argues that mass customization is not alwayswhat it seems to be. Some limitations are associated with thestrategy of mass customization. This paper gives a synopsis of PaulZipkin`s view of mass customization and his recommendations on thebest way to achieve the goal of delivering variety to customers. Theinformation in this article is relevant to the students because itprovides first-hand information about the importance of organizationadaptation to new technologies in the provision of custom products.

Unsuitabilityof Mass Customization

Zipkin (81) suggested that there are various limitations in masscustomization and people who utilize its strategies should performthem in a careful manner through unique operational capabilities.Mass customization does not suit all types of businesses, and for itto provide real value, it should offer product attributes that areeasy to distinguish. Zipkin (82) recommends that before managers optto use mass customization to add value trough variety, they shouldfirst do the technology, demand, costs, and benefits analysis.

Elements ofMass Customization

There are three elements of mass customization including processflexibility, elicitation, as well as logistics (Zipkin 82). Themastery of mass customization systems significant capabilities bringsforth to various difficulties encountered by companies. According toZipkin (83), elicitation process is strenuous because most consumersare always indecisive and unsure of the products they want thuscreating challenges for any industry that aims at serving them. Theelicitation process is the means in which clients are guided to theproducts of their preference. Observed that although there have beenvarious programs dedicated to direct salespeople and consumers to awide range of choices, clients have reported that this process is adisappointment.

The element of process flexibility ensures that high volume processestransform information into a physical product although not allmethods are adjustable and uncomplicated to digitize. Logisticsinclude the transportation or additional processing after a producthas been made in a way that suits the information of a specificclient. Distribution of custom made products is a challenge to manycompanies because these products have to be sent to the right personindividually.

Market Limitation

Mass customization is also faced by the limitation of future demand.Zipkin (84) suggested that the belief that everyone wants customizedproducts, all the time, as well as in all locations is unreliable.The demand aspect is influenced by factors like taste, preferencesfor specific attributes, and novelty nature of custom products.

MassCustomization Success

Mass customization forms only one of various routes to variety andcompanies that choose to use its strategies should ensure that it hasthe potential for not only integrating and delivering on the elementsof process flexibility, elicitation, and logistics, but also forvariety enhancements such as customization. Therefore, companiesshould understand their operations, markets, strengths, environment,as well as their weaknesses through an integrated process and productengineering, in addition to standard market research. The modernorganizational theory suggests that organizations operate as opensystems in a changing balance as they continually become accustomedto environmental changes. The success of mass customization can onlybe reached if its elements are linked together to function as a wholerather than individually (Zipkin 85). Therefore, organizationalagility, as well as technical agility, is a significant aspect of acompany that ensures collaboration across the boundaries formed bythese elements.

In conclusion, mass customization can be used to increase theproductivity and efficiency of a company if most of its limitationswould be addressed. Therefore, mass customization is a relevantaspect in organizational theory as it provides technologicalstructures and patterns that are used by various companies tomaximize efficiency, customer satisfaction, and productivity.


Zipkin, Paul.“The Limits of Mass Customization.” Sloan Management Review,spring. 2001, pp. 81-87.