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Make to Order (MTO)


Make to Order (MTO) is a production and inventory management strategy in which a company only manufactures products once they receive a customer’s order. This approach reduces inventory costs and waste by not producing excess stock. However, MTO may result in longer delivery times, as production only starts after an order has been placed.


The phonetics of the keyword “Make to Order (MTO)” would be:/ˈmeɪk tu ərˈdər/ (MTO)Breaking it down:Make: /ˈmeɪk/to: /tu/Order: /ərˈdər/

Key Takeaways


  1. Customization: Make to Order (MTO) is a production strategy where products are manufactured only after a customer places an order. This allows for greater customization, tailoring products to meet specific customer demands and preferences.
  2. Reduced Inventory Costs: Since MTO products are only produced after receiving a customer order, businesses can keep inventory levels low. This can help reduce warehouse storage costs, inventory holding costs, and the risk of holding obsolete or excess items.
  3. Longer Lead Times: Products made using the MTO approach often have longer lead times, as production doesn’t start until an order is placed. This means customers may have to wait longer to receive their products compared to purchasing off-the-shelf items. However, the benefit of increased customization can outweigh the longer wait for many customers.


Make to Order (MTO) is an important business and finance term as it represents a production strategy wherein the manufacturing process is initiated only after receiving a customer’s specific order. This approach is crucial for businesses that deal with customization, low volume products, or highly specialized goods. By employing MTO, companies can efficiently manage their resources, inventory, and production costs while also catering to individual customer needs. Consequently, MTO allows for better customer satisfaction, reduced risks of obsolete inventory, and streamlined production, contributing to a more sustainable and profitable business model in certain industries.


Make to Order (MTO) serves as a highly effective approach in various industries, specifically tailored to create and deliver customized solutions to customers. This strategy focuses on producing goods based on the individual demands of each client, rather than relying on a standardized or pre-existing inventory. A perfect fit for niches with diverse requirements, MTO enables businesses to achieve a competitive edge through superior adaptability and customer satisfaction. As a result, organizations can better align themselves to market trends and offer innovative solutions faster to cater to an ever-changing clientele base. The purpose behind MTO is to minimize the costs and potential inefficiencies associated with holding excessive stock, thereby reducing wasted resources, shortening production cycles, and fostering sustainable practices. By producing goods only when customers place an order, businesses can optimize their supply chain management, allowing them to employ a just-in-time approach and streamline their operations. Consequently, organizations leveraging the MTO model are well-equipped to respond to fluctuations and disruptions in the market, which bolsters their resilience and ensures long-term viability. Moreover, MTO enhances brand reputation as customers receive personalized products tailored specifically to their preferences, resulting in higher loyalty and ultimately bolstering repeat business.


1. Custom Furniture Manufacturing: In this business, customers typically provide their desired design, measurements, and material preferences for furniture items such as sofas, tables, or cabinets. The manufacturer only starts producing the furniture after receiving the specific order from the customer, ensuring that it meets the customer’s unique requirements and preferences. 2. Personalized Apparel Manufacturing: Companies specializing in personalized clothing, such as custom t-shirts or embroidered hats, operate on a Make to Order basis. Customers design their apparel by selecting the base garments, colors, and adding customized graphics or text. The apparel is then produced only after receiving the customer’s order, aligning with the specific design choices made by the customer. 3. Bespoke Car Manufacturing: Luxury automakers, like Rolls-Royce and Ferrari, often cater to the discerning tastes of their clientele through Make to Order production processes. Clients can customize their vehicles by selecting exterior and interior colors, materials, trims, and additional features such as custom embroidery or accessories. The automaker begins the production process only after receiving the customer’s order, creating a unique vehicle tailored to each individual client.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Make to Order (MTO)?
Make to Order (MTO) is a production and inventory management strategy where products are manufactured or assembled only after receiving a customer’s order. This approach minimizes inventory costs and reduces the risk of holding obsolete items in stock, as products are created specifically for customer’s demand.
What are the key benefits of using a Make to Order strategy?
The main benefits of using MTO include lower inventory costs, reduced risk of obsolescence, increased customization options, and improved responsiveness to customer needs.
How does MTO differ from Make to Stock (MTS)?
In Make to Stock (MTS), companies manufacture and maintain a predetermined amount of inventory based on market demand forecasts. In contrast, Make to Order (MTO) companies only initiate production when an order is placed by the customer, eliminating the need for maintaining a stock of finished goods beforehand.
What types of businesses typically use Make to Order production?
Businesses manufacturing complex, customizable, or high-value items generally opt for MTO strategy. Examples include furniture manufacturers, bespoke tailors, specialized machine builders, and software developers.
What are the potential challenges associated with Make to Order?
MTO requires effective demand forecasting, prompt communication among suppliers and manufacturers, and efficient management of raw materials and lead times. The main challenges associated with MTO include increased wait time for customers, potential for backlogs during high demand periods, and higher dependency on suppliers fulfilling their deliveries on time.
How can technology assist in streamlining Make to Order production?
Technology plays a key role in optimizing MTO production processes. Automation, real-time data tracking, and advanced software solutions can help companies monitor orders, manage suppliers, track inventory, improve lead times, and reduce the possibility of errors.
Are there any hybrid approaches to MTO and MTS strategies?
Yes, a company might adopt a hybrid strategy called Assemble-to-Order (ATO), which falls between MTO and MTS. In ATO, businesses hold a stock of partially finished goods or components, and the final assembly or customization takes place only after a customer places an order. This approach allows companies to respond quickly to customer needs while minimizing inventory costs.

Related Finance Terms

  • Just-in-time Manufacturing (JIT)
  • Bill of Materials (BOM)
  • Production Lead Time
  • Customer Demand Forecasting
  • Inventory Management

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