Why You Shouldn't Hire Developers to Build a Product Configurator


Renaud Teasdale

Product customization

March 16th, 2022

7 min read time

If you are an ecommerce business, you should not be hiring web developers to build your product configurator from scratch.

There's no doubt that it's going to be extremely expensive and take months for them to complete the project. You also run the risk of delays and cost overruns.

A much better option is to use a software as a service (SaaS) solution. With SaaS, you don't have to pay for updates, and you can get up and running very quickly. This will allow you to experiment with your product customizer and see what works best for your business.

How much does it cost to build a product configurator with an agency?

Let's take a look at the main steps involved in building a product configurator with an agency:

  1. Writing a project brief

  2. Meeting with at least three agencies and pick the right one

  3. Agreeing on a scope of work

  4. Reviewing, negotiating, and signing the contract

  5. Designing the user interface

  6. Creating the product's visual assets

  7. Coding the configurator

  8. Integrating it with your ecommerce platform

  9. Testing and debugging

Each of these steps takes a lot of time. Writing the brief and selecting an agency alone would probably take around 4 weeks.

We've asked three experienced professionals to provide us with ballpark time estimates for the different steps required to build a basic product configurator.

It would take a minimum of 3 to 4 weeks to complete the UX and UI design. This is assuming that there are no delays in getting feedback or approvals. And that the product configurator is not too complex.

From there, front-end and back-end development would take another 6 to 12 weeks. Then, the product configurator would need to be integrated with your ecommerce platform, which would add at least 2-3 more weeks to the project timeline. Lastly, testing and bug fixing can take up to 2 weeks.

So all in all, it would take at least 4 months but more likely greater than 6 months.

Now let's look at the resources an agency would have to put at your disposition to make your project happen. You would minimally need a UX-UI designer and a graphic designer to generate your product's visual assets. A front-end developer to turn the designs into HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. And a back-end developer, preferably two or three, to build the product configurator core functionalities and connect with the database. Last but not least, a project manager would be there to make sure everything runs smoothly and on schedule. That's a group of 5-7 people...

At an agency, these skilled professionals don't come cheap. We're talking about $100 to $150 per hour for each resource. So if we do the math, a product configurator project could easily cost $200,000 but most likely much more.

As you can see, building a product configurator from scratch is a very costly and time-consuming endeavor. It's simply not worth it when you can use a professional SaaS solution like Kickflip for a fraction of the price.

Working with developers from emerging countries to lower your development cost

You might be thinking about hiring a web development team from countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, or the Philippines to save on costs. After all, their hourly rates are much lower than what you would pay in the US or Europe. However, we don't recommend this approach for several reasons:

  • The time difference makes communication difficult.

  • The language barrier can lead to miscommunications and errors in the code.

  • The quality of work is often lower.

  • You will have little to no legal recourse if something goes wrong.

In short, working with an inexperienced, low-cost development team is not worth the risk. It's still going to cost you way more than using a product configurator SaaS solution in the long run.

What about maintenance costs?

You've patiently waited several months for your customizer to be ready to go live. You've invested hundreds of thousands to design and code the customizer from zero.

Now you need to update it. Maybe you want to add new product options or change the way the product configurator looks. With a custom-built solution, you'll have to pay your agency again to make these changes. And since they will need to dedicate a significant amount of time and resources to maintain your product configurator, you can expect the bill.

The other sad truth is that this bright new and shiny software you just built is going to become obsolete if you do not keep up with the maintenance. A product configurator is a complex piece of software. It needs to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies and trends to remain performant.

You don't have this problem with a SaaS solution because a full-time team of experts is constantly working on improving the product. When you use a SaaS product configurator like Kickflip, you get a product that's always up-to-date with the latest technologies.

Focusing on your company's core strengths

Let's face it, you're an ecommerce brand, not a tech company. Your team is probably extremely skilled at product design, marketing and sales. You should be focused on selling these awesome products, not on developing highly complex software.

Nobody in their right mind would build a custom-coded ecommerce platform because there are awesome solutions out there like Shopify, BigCommerce or Salesforce Commerce Cloud. The same goes for product configurators. You should focus on your core strengths, and use a powerful and flexible SaaS solution like Kickflip.

3 reasons why choosing a SaaS solution is the way to go to develop your product customizer

Now that we've looked at the cost and complexity of building a product configurator from scratch, let's see why using a SaaS solution is the way to go.

  1. SaaS solutions are much cheaper
    The first reason is obvious: SaaS solutions are much cheaper than custom-built product configurators. You can pay a monthly cost that is a fraction of what you would pay to an agency, and get started in a matter of days.

  2. SaaS solutions are easier to use
    The second reason is that SaaS solutions like Kickflip are much easier to use. You don't need any technical skills to get started, and you can launch your product configurator in a matter of days using a completely visual interface.

  3. SaaS solutions are constantly updated
    The third reason is that SaaS solutions are constantly updated with the latest features and technologies. This means that you will always have the latest and greatest product configurator, without having to pay for costly updates.

Experimenting with your product customizer is crucial

Using a content management system provides you with a lot of flexibility to experiment with your product configurator. You can easily add new product options, change the layout, or even create different versions of your products to test which one performs better.

imageThat's very important because let's face it, you might not nail it the first time. Product configurators are complex systems, and it takes a lot of experimentation to optimize to get it right.

A SaaS solution like Kickflip makes it very easy for you to test ideas to ultimately optimize your conversion rate and customer engagement, without having to pay an agency for costly updates.

Need help with artwork or to set up your customizer?

We would recommend at least spending a few hours learning Kickflip to be able to manage it yourself or to have someone on your team who knows how to use it. But maybe you have a lot of work and don't want to set up your product configurator yourself. That's perfectly ok! There's a bunch of development solutions for Shopify, Woocommerce, Magento and other ecommerce.

We understand that you might not have the internal resources to develop your product configurator. That's why we've teamed up with several expert partners offering professional services to help you get the most out of our product configurator. They can take care of the entire process for you from creating your product images or 3D renderings to setting up your configurator using Kickflip's powerful technology and helping out with your ecommerce integration.

Unlike having developers code everything from zero, working with our partners will save you time and money, and you can be sure that they know exactly how to use Kickflip to create engaging product configurators that will boost your sales.

Need support?

At Kickflip, customer success is our number one priority. We want to make sure that you are getting the most out of our product customizer software, and that's why we offer support through a number of channels.

You can reach us by email, phone, or live chat. Our team is available Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm EST.

We also offer many resources, such as our knowledge base, product tour, and video tutorials.

Getting started with Kickflip is easy

Now that you know why you should use a SaaS solution like Kickflip to develop your product customizer, let's see how easy it is to get started.

Simply sign up for a 14-day free trial. From there you can choose your ecommerce platform, whether it's Shopify, Prestashop, or Woocommerce, and install our app in a few clicks.

If you are using another ecommerce platform, simply book a demo to discuss custom integration with someone from our team.

That's it! You're now ready to start creating your product configurator!