Mass Customization: State-of-the-Art and Challenges

  • Thorsten Blecker
  • Nizar Abdelkafi
Part of the International Series in Operations Research & Management Science book series (ISOR, volume 87)


Mass customization refers to a business strategy that conciliates two different business practices, which are mass production and craft production. It aims to provide customers with individualized products at near mass production efficiency. In fact, there are many approaches in order to implement mass customization. In this context the customer order entry point plays an important role as an indicator for the degree of customer integration and customization level. Before embarking on a mass customization strategy, it is mandatory to examine if some critical success factors have already been satisfied. The most relevant factors are: customer demand for customized products, market turbulence, supply chain readiness and knowledge driven organization. However, the mere satisfaction of these factors need not necessarily lead mass customization to success. In effect, the entire process, which in turn consists of many sub-processes, has to be coordinated and managed in a suitable manner. The main sub-processes in mass customization are: the development sub-process, interaction sub-process, purchasing sub-process, production sub-process, logistics sub-process and information sub-process. However, state-of-the-art mass customization still has to face many challenges. We identify the external complexity and internal complexity as the main problems that may jeopardize the implementation of the strategy. External complexity can be referred to as the difficulties encountered by customers when they have to select adequate variants out of a large set of product alternatives. On the other hand, internal complexity is experienced inside operations and manufacturing-related tasks. It is toward solving these main problems that the researches reported in the different chapters of the book have been carried out. Finally, in the conclusions we provide an overview of each chapter, while pointing out its main contribution to research on mass customization.

Key words

Mass customization state-of-the-art mass customization processes internal complexity external complexity 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thorsten Blecker
    • 1
  • Nizar Abdelkafi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Business Logistics and General Management (5-11)Hamburg University of TechnologyHamburgGermany

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