Build to Order

Definition of Build to Order

Build to Order (BTO) refers to a production and business model where products are individually designed and manufactured according to customer specifications rather than being mass-produced beforehand. This approach allows for greater customization, flexibility, and efficiency in meeting specific customer needs. BTO is commonly used in industries such as automotive, computing, and electronics, where clients can select various features, components, or configurations for their products.


The phonetic pronunciation of the keyword “Build to Order” is: /ˈbɪld tu ɔrˈdər/Here, it is broken down into syllables and presented using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA).

Key Takeaways

  1. Build to Order (BTO) is a production strategy where products are created and assembled once a customer’s order has been received instead of anticipating demand beforehand.
  2. BTO reduces inventory costs and waste while allowing greater product customization, as products are made specifically for individual customers according to their preferences.
  3. However, BTO requires highly efficient supply chain management, as delays in any part of the process can result in increased lead times, which can ultimately affect customer satisfaction.

Importance of Build to Order

Build to Order (BTO) is an important technology term because it refers to a production approach where products are only manufactured once a customer order is received, ensuring that each end product is customized to the specific needs and preferences of the individual customer.

This not only contributes to high levels of customer satisfaction but also allows manufacturers to optimize their resources by reducing inventory costs, managing supply chain efficiently, and minimizing material wastage.

As a result, BTO enables businesses to remain competitive and agile in a constantly evolving market landscape while providing customers with tailored, high-quality products.


Build to Order (BTO) is a production and business strategy that primarily focuses on creating specialized products in response to specific customer requirements, thereby ensuring a higher level of satisfaction and personalization. This model’s purpose is to accommodate the diverse desires and needs of individuals without carrying a vast inventory of pre-built items. In a highly competitive market, BTO enables businesses to provide distinct offerings with the advantage of tailoring the product to match each customer’s preferences.

As a result, this approach contributes significantly to customer loyalty, enhanced product uniqueness, and remarkable adaptability to ever-changing market trends and consumer demands. Industries like automotive, electronics, and fashion have successfully adopted the Build to Order model to cater to the evolving needs of contemporary customers who seek customization. The adoption of BTO also encourages businesses to adopt advanced production technologies such as rapid prototyping, flexible manufacturing systems, and efficient supply chain management.

As a result, they can quickly and affordably present made-to-order products. By focusing on satisfying a niche audience with unique design requirements, BTO helps organizations reduce inventory costs, minimizes waste, and maintains better financial health. Furthermore, in an ever more connected world, Build to Order serves as a powerful tool for companies to differentiate themselves and sustain in a highly dynamic business environment.

Examples of Build to Order

Dell Computers: Dell is a leading computer technology company that revolutionized the Build-to-Order (BTO) model in the 1990s. With their BTO approach, Dell allowed customers to customize their PCs and laptops by choosing specific features, such as processors, memory, storage, and graphics options. By assembling the systems only after an order was received, Dell reduced inventory costs and provided customers with a personalized computer.

Tesla Inc.: Tesla, the electric vehicle manufacturer, utilizes a BTO approach for its vehicles. Customers can select and configure various features for their car, such as battery range, wheel size, paint color, and interior options, through Tesla’s website or at a Tesla store. Once the order is placed, Tesla begins the manufacturing process. By adopting a BTO production process, Tesla reduces excess inventory, maintains greater control over production, and can introduce innovations more quickly.

Nike’s NikeiD: Nike, a global sportswear company, offers the NikeiD service, which allows customers to customize and personalize footwear and apparel. Through the NikeiD website or in select stores, customers can choose different colors, materials, and patterns for various parts of their shoes or clothing, as well as add personalization like initials or numbers. Once the design is finalized and the order is placed, Nike manufactures the custom product and ships it to the customer. This BTO approach enables Nike to offer unique products tailored to individual preferences while avoiding excess inventory.

Build to Order FAQ

What is Build to Order?

Build to Order (BTO) is a manufacturing approach where products are only built once a customer order is received. It offers customization options to tailor the product according to the customer’s individual needs, without holding excess inventory.

What are the advantages of Build to Order?

Some advantages of BTO include reduced inventory costs, quicker response times to market changes, and increased scope for product customization. BTO allows manufacturers to be more agile and meet unique customer requirements more effectively.

How does Build to Order differ from mass production?

Mass production typically involves making products in large quantities without considering specific customer requirements. In contrast, Build to Order only begins production once an order is received, allowing for customization and reduced inventory holding.

Can customers modify their orders in a Build to Order system?

Yes, the Build to Order process allows customers to modify their orders within a certain timeframe. However, modifications may not be possible once production has started or after a specified deadline.

How does Build to Order affect lead time?

Since Build to Order products are made to meet specific customer requests, the lead time may be longer than with mass-produced items. Even so, modern manufacturing techniques and supply chain optimization can minimize the impact on lead time while still offering customization options.

Related Technology Terms

  • Custom configuration
  • Just-in-time manufacturing
  • Product personalization
  • Mass customization
  • Supply chain management

Sources for More Information

  • Investopedia:
  • Wikipedia:
  • ScienceDirect:
  • Gartner:

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