For more than a century the hard-earned Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval has been stamped into the U.S. consumer's conscience. But with today's world awash in information, including product reviews of every ilk, the seal's cachet might suffer from dilution. Nevertheless, it still stands for quality. One day a newly conceived seal could become a coveted sign of quality. It's a seal vouching not for the integrity of an item for sale but rather the overall value of a growing kind of online buying experience. It's the experience of you the consumer personalizing an array of diverse products to meet your specific needs and tastes. Those of us knee-deep in helping to provide the experience call it mass customization.

Two leading experts in the field, Dominik Walcher and Frank Piller, evaluated the web sites of 1,000 companies and chose 500 in 20 countries for providing the best personalized shopping experience. In their extensive study, thought to be the first comprehensive benchmarking of its kind, they also unveiled "The Customization 500 Signet" and said the companies could display it on their web sites. The seal can signify quality for "customers, investors, and other interest groups," Walcher and Piller wrote. The study will be periodically updated and with it the the list of companies.

Among the study's five quantitative categories of comparison were web site visualization features such as product pictures (companies with 3D views scored higher) and interactive zooming and turning. Visual realism---how realistic is the visualization during the product configuration process---was among the five qualitative categories. In other words, the heart of what Embodee enables mass customization companies to do.

(For developments and insights in mass customization, follow Piller's blog.)