What Is Assemble to Order (ATO)?

Assemble to order (ATO) is a business production strategy where products ordered by customers are produced quickly and are customizable to a certain extent. The assemble-to-order (ATO) strategy requires that the basic parts of the product are already manufactured but not yet assembled. Once an order is received, the parts are assembled quickly and sent to the customer.

Understanding Assemble to Order (ATO)

The assemble-to-order (ATO) strategy is a hybrid between a make-to-stock strategy — where products are fully produced in advance — and the make-to-order strategy — where products are manufactured once the order has been received. The ATO strategy attempts to combine the benefits of both strategies —getting products into customers' hands quickly while allowing for the product to be customizable.

Enabled by technology, advancements in production processes and inventory management systems have played a big part in making assemble to order strategies a reality. Add cheaper methods of shipping products, and it's been a boon for product customization opportunities.