MASS CUSTOMIZATION : JUST AN OXYMORON
Customization means manufacturing a product or delivering a service in response to a particular customer’s needs, and mass customization means doing it in a cost- effective way. The concept can be customized either very broadly as a business strategy for profitably providing customers with anything they want, anytime, anywhere, in any way; or narrowly as the use of flexible processes and organizational structures to produce varied and often individually customized products and services at the price of standardized mass produced alternatives (1). The concept of a mass customization strategy in today's business environment has great appeal especially as the driving force in the marketplace is the customer. Increasingly, customers expect delivery of high-quality, customized products and services at affordable prices. Which means that firms must be competent to quickly respond to changing customer desires, keep pace with innovation and at the same time operate at a low cost to make the products or services affordable. It calls for a customer-centered orientation in production and delivery processes requiring the company to gather information about every customer and collaborate with each individual to design the desired product or service. Achieving this customer focus can be quite a massive undertaking since firms may require new organizational structures, values, management roles and systems, learning methods and ways of relating to customers. It may require company wide technology that uses specifically computerized programs that synchronize the supply chain, allowing manufacturers to input supplier information, raw material availability, engineers' CAD drawings, production schedules, costs and distribution data, which will enhance communication between salespeople, customers, suppliers, distributors, engineers and the factory floor (2). The cost of such a technology driven system is not only expensive but...
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