Combining Customized Offerings - extended products and the role of business partners
This thesis deals with the increasing attention of manufacturing firms to supply extended
offerings, implying a shift from selling products towards provision of solutions. The overall
aim is to describe and analyze how suppliers broaden their offerings by supplementing the
core product with service elements. The fulfillment of this aim requires first and foremost a
study coping with the identification of the elements together forming the extended offering
and the principles for their combining. Secondly, the need for adjustments to the demands of
individual customers calls for an analysis of the role of the buyer in this process. Thirdly, the
broadening of the offering makes the provider of the solution dependent on specialized
service suppliers. These conditions necessitate an exploration of how the supplier network of
the provider is activated.
The frame of reference takes its point of departure in previous studies of the combining of
products and services into total solutions. In this study a particular interest is directed to the
roles of customers and suppliers in these processes, thus putting an emphasis on the impact of
the relationships with business partners. The nature of the research issues makes a case study
approach the most relevant methodological choice. The empirical enquiry deals with a
provider of extended offerings in the truck industry.
The findings relates to four main areas. The first concerns the challenge to become a provider
of customized solutions. The second illustrates how a customized offering is successively
developed through the interaction between buyer and provider. The third relates to the role of
the provider as a coordinator of the network of suppliers involved in the combining of the
customized offering. Finally, the fourth area deals with some basic principles for
collaboration with business partners.