Visual Product Customizer

6 Ways to Build a Visual Product Customizer in Shopify

If you shop online, one thing you’re likely to see is a product customizer feature. These are all over the internet, on Amazon, on Shopify stores, and on custom-designed storefronts everywhere.

It’s a very compelling feature. Users can choose customization options during the product selection process, and see in real-time a mock-up of what the end result will look like. Sometimes it’s as simple as seeing the same product in different colors. Sometimes it’s as fancy as Amazon’s Augmented Reality View app that allows you to see how a product would look in place physically in your room.

Unfortunately, we don’t know of a way you can license or use Amazon’s AR for your own store. It’s limited to just Amazon and just certain kinds of products within Amazon at that. Still, there are other options, even if they aren’t quite as robust.

The good news is, you can add this kind of feature to your Shopify store. Well, maybe not the augmented reality app. That might be a little more complicated. Still, a basic product customizer is well within your reach, if you want to add it.

The Benefits of a Product Customizer

Why would you want to add this kind of feature to your store? There are a handful of good benefits to be had from using such a feature.

  • Customized orders make a user feel more like they’re getting what they truly want, even if they’re just picking between options you’ve pre-selected. This increases engagement and conversion rates.
  • Being able to see different settings for colors, textures, and patterns allows a potential customer to judge how a product will look and can help them make a decision when they would otherwise be stuck with indecision.
  • Users uploading their own designs can see if there are any errors with the design in situ that would make it look bad and can tweak their designs to better fit as necessary.

A product customizer generally has the ability to increase user engagement, boost conversion rates, and grow user satisfaction in the products they receive. So, how do you get those benefits? We’ve found six options for you.

Option 1: Product Customizer – Artistry

The first option on our list is a product customizer app for Shopify called Product Customizer – Artistry. You can find and download the app here.

Artistry is a product customizer with a fairly simple setup. They’ve designed it so you don’t need to mess around with any custom HTML. It has a variety of templates you can use, and it has a customization image you can use as the base to make sure all of your images are the same resolution, position, and detail. They also don’t lock you into any specific fulfillment process, so it slots in right with your existing shopping flow.

Artistry Shopfiy Promo

The ideal use case for this sort of customizer is a multi-part graphic with text, that can be printed onto items like a shirt, a mug, or a pillow. It’s thus best used with print-on-demand style products that don’t require you to carry inventory that is pre-configured and pre-sorted. You can click on their example store to see it in action.

The biggest downside to using this particular app is the cost. You need to pay a monthly fee to use the customizer, and the packages limit how many custom orders you can fill each month. The cheapest plan restricts you to ten templates and only 200 custom orders per month.

Pricing is unfortunately inflexible as well. The cheapest plan is $10 or 7.5% of your custom sales, whichever is higher. Higher tier plans allow you a larger number of templates and orders, but even their most expensive plan has a cap, so for stores that sell more than 800 custom orders per month, you’re going to be out of luck with this plugin.

Option 2: Customify

The second option we’ve identified is also a Shopify app, this time called Customify. You can find the app here if you want to give it a try.

Customify is a fully responsive, fully customizable visual product customizer. It’s designed to be eminently flexible but easy to configure. It also allows users to upload more than one graphic or image at a time to customize their products, which gives it even more flexibility than most customizers on the market.

Customify Product Customizer

As an additional feature, Customify allows you to set additional price thresholds for certain customization options. For example, if you want different styles or colors of the base product to have different costs (due to availability or demand) you can choose those options all within the customizer.

Their custom product creator is surprisingly well-engineered and is very flexible and intuitive for users. Overall, it has a lot of the features you might want and has a team on hand to help set up your products if you need assistance.

Pricing for Customify is thankfully less complex than Artistry. It’s simple flat monthly fees and includes a free plan, with no percentage of revenue involved. The free plan is very limited, with only 10 custom orders per month, and is only meant for trial use. Paid plans start at $10 per month and scale up to $50 per month, where you get up to 2,000 custom orders per month. If you need more, you can contact them directly for an enterprise plan scaled to your needs.

Option 3: Product Options and Customizer

Third on our list is a final Shopify app, this time called Product Options and Customizer. It’s made by the company Product Customizer, and you can find the app here.

Product Options Customizer

This is probably the most robust and customizable of the three apps we’ve listed. As such, it’s the most complicated to set up, but the most useful for users who want to make complex designs. Also, unlike the other two, paid plans do not scale according to the number of orders they process. The cheapest plan, at $10 per month, offers unlimited products and unlimited orders. Higher tier plans offer more customization options, premium installation, differential pricing, and priority support.

There are also a handful of other product customizers on the market. This article covers six others that we didn’t mention today, because we want to cover other options beyond just plugins. They all have different arrays of features, utility, pros and cons, and pricing levels.

The key to remember is that product customization is often unique to the company. Unless you’re running a basic print on demand company, you might need specific kinds of product customization features. For example, none of these apps will get you 3D renders and rotational displays of custom products. None of them offer an Amazon-like augmented reality feature. Every product and every customization scheme is different, and you won’t always be able to find a pre-configured app that does everything you want for your products.

That’s why we have three more options we discuss on this list. If none of the apps you’ve found do what you want them to do, you can explore one of these other alternatives.

Option 4: Third-Party Integrations

A fourth option is to use a service that allows your customers to design their own custom designs, and automatically upload them from that system into your product customizer.

This option has one major pro and one major con to discuss.

The pro, or benefit, is that these third-party tools are often far more robust in terms of configuration than any customizer you add to your own site. This is because they’re sites designed specifically to be graphical editing engines. Canva is one of the biggest examples. If you tried to replicate Canva on your product pages, you’d bog down your site with tons of redundancy and unnecessary tools, not to mention all the hassle of license management for individual assets that Canva does.

The con is, well, you’re using a third-party tool you don’t control. With a Shopify app, you at least have control over the configuration of the tool on your site, if not the individual options provided for you to use. You pay a monthly fee, but you’ll pay a fee for a third-party service as well. The difference is, with a service like Canva, you have to send the user out to Canva and have them use that editor to complete their customization.

Office Depot is a prime example of this kind of service in action. If you visit their Print Center, you see that they have a variety of design options. You can talk to one of their staff members for custom designs, you can upload a design you have, or you can use their Canva integration to design through that tool. Clicking on the Canva option routes you through to Canva, where you create your design. Once done, it routes back through to Office Depot for print options.

Office Depot Canva Design

This is the sort of process you would be setting up for your site. You can do it through the Canva Button (or through a comparable service through a different third-party designer), using integration with their service as part of your checkout process.

Option 5: Custom Development

Maybe you want something dedicated on your site, but don’t like any of the feature lists of any of the Shopify apps we’ve already mentioned. Maybe you want something more robust than those apps, but without the reliance on a third party like the Canva option. Maybe you want something you don’t have to pay a monthly fee to access.

The solution here is generally going to be custom development. It’s a larger up-front cost – since you have to find a pay a developer, and possibly a graphic artist as well – but it’s free once you have it running on your site.

Editing Shopify Code

A product customizer is something that is worth the investment, as it’s a core component of your visitor’s shopping experience. Adding software to your store that takes your base product images and allows for layered custom graphics and text takes some time and patience, as you want the final outcome to be attractive to your customers. If it looks jagged, buggy, or otherwise strange-looking, you could lose sales.

If you want more detailed or robust custom features, like the aforementioned 3D renders, rotating images, or augmented reality overlays, you’ll need more complex development. As you might expect, this costs more as well as taking longer. It’s worthwhile if you pull it off and your customers like it, but it can be a substantial initial investment.

Option 6: Hiring a Company

Now let’s say you want all of the benefits of a custom-developed tool for your product customizer, but you don’t want to manage the direction of a project yourself. You don’t have the technical skills to manage a developer, and you don’t want to deal with potentially sketchy freelancers.

The solution is to hire a company to do it for you. Companies like ours can offer custom web design for features to add to your Shopify store, including a visual product customizer. Now, finding a company you trust is a whole other ball game; you’ll want to locate a company, preferably one with a good reputation. Look at their portfolio to see what sort of designs they’ve made in the past, and what kind of features they can offer you. And, of course, you can reach out to discuss any custom development you need to be done.

Partners for Success

Hiring a company is a great middle-ground between purely custom development, with all of the time and expense involved, and using a plain pre-configured app or service to handle it all for you.

Just remember that the more advanced and the more customizable you want your system to be, the more work is going to go into it. You may need to take a lot of product images to use as a base, and you may need to recruit a graphic designer to help with your custom elements or your images, to begin with. There are a lot of different considerations at play, so you’ll want to reach out to your chosen company and talk to them about what you want and what needs to be done.

Do you have a personal recommendation for visual product customizers? Be sure to let us know in the comment section below!

William Smith