The ultimate goal of any product design project is to get the thing into the hands of consumers. You want to sell your product: that means getting into the shelves of some kind of store. All that effort in product design, all those iterated prototypes, design testing, etc, is all a means to an end. You’re want to make sales.
So how do you do it?
Getting your product to market can be challenging, especially if you’re not really an expert in sales and marketing and if you’re in an intensely competitive niche, or if you’ve invented a completely new product that consumers know nothing about and might be hesitant to try.
Figuring out your ideal path to market is an important part of successful product design, and you ought to be thinking about your strategy from the early stages. There are a number of different ways to get your product to market. The avenue(s) that you choose to pursue will depend upon the nature of your product and your target market.
We’ve created this little guide to help you sell your new product.
Harnessing The Power Of The Internet!
In today’s digital age, one of the best ways to get your product into your customers’ hands is through the internet. Many people shop online or at least do their pre-purchase research on the web. Online visibility is one of the best ways to reach out to folks to inform them of what you have to offer. You’ll also make it easier for them to buy your products. And as an added bonus, the Internet is also one of the most effective ways for brand awareness to spread: social media greatly amplifies the power of word-of-mouth advertising.
There are two major ways to sell your product online: use a marketplace or create your own website. We’ve outlined them below to help you choose the right option for you.
Amazon, eBay, and other online marketplaces give small businesses the chance to sell their products without having their own website. While these aren’t necessarily sustainable options for maintaining a real business, they can be appropriate if you want to test a small batch of products and see if it’s commercially feasible. They’re also a great way to get feedback from real, paying customers.
One of the best things about online marketplaces is that they don’t require you to put up a large investment. Simply pay the seller fee and you’re good to go! This is fantastic if you don’t have a large budget and want to start earning from your products ASAP.
However, many of these marketplaces have requirements that you’ll need to meet before you can start your virtual shop. eBay, for example, requires you to set up an automatic payment method, which can be PayPal, credit card, or checking account. This will be used to pay your seller fees and settle any reimbursements in case your customers have problems with their order. Amazon, on the other hand, will ask for your tax identity information and requires you to have an internationally-chargeable credit card that has a valid billing address. List your product on the marketplace by uploading high-resolution images of it, creating interesting descriptions, and setting the price. When someone places an order, fulfill it by shipping the item to the customer then collect your payment afterward.
List your product on the marketplace with high-resolution images. Write compelling product descriptions, and set the appropriate price.
The biggest drawbacks to selling on online marketplaces is that you have very little control of the system itself, you have to pay fees to the host company, and you have little opportunity to promote your own brand rather than the marketplace itself. It just so happens that these are exactly the benefits of developing your own site.
Develop Your Own Site
One of the biggest drawbacks to selling through online marketplaces is that they contain thousands of other products all being sold under the brand umbrella of the host platform. This can make it difficult to attract the attention of your target audience.
Even if you do get earn high revenues from these marketplaces, selling only through them is often not a feasible long-term solution. People will eventually wonder why you don’t have your own website, which can affect their perception of your product as well as your brand. Much of the brand awareness generated by your sales will be subsumed by the platform, too. You’ll also want to escape the seller fees that online marketplaces charge, which can seriously eat into your profit margin.
But how exactly can you make your own e-commerce site? Well, before anything else, you need to choose between making a hosted website and a self-hosted one. To understand these two options, you can think of them in terms of property. Getting a hosted website is similar to renting an apartment: you can have shelter even without spending thousands of dollars, but you’ll be limited by what your landlord says you can and can’t do. Opting for a self-hosted site is akin to buying your own house: you’ll have the freedom to remodel it to your heart’s content, but maintenance and repairs are your responsibility.
Hosted E-Commerce Sites
These sites are hosted by cloud-based e-commerce platforms such as Shopify and BigCommerce. These platforms will host your site (i.e. they’ll store it on their own servers) and provide you with the software you need to create your site. Most of these site-building tools are designed to be user-friendly, so you can find your around even if you don’t have a background in web design and development.
Hosted sites are a great option if you don’t have a huge budget and just want to get your products online ASAP. It’s also an excellent choice if you’re not familiar with web hosting and development, as the platform will take care of much of the website maintenance. Consequently, you won’t have to worry as much about downtime, security, and other issues, and you can focus on marketing your product.
The biggest drawback is the lack of customization. You’re limited by the features and tools that the platform has to offer, and so you don’t have the full creative power to customize your website. This can be an issue if you want your site to be unique and stand out from your competitors.
Self-Hosted E-Commerce Sites
When you opt to host your website yourself, you’ll need to download and run the software from the provider and find a web hosting company for your site. This can be complicated especially if you’re not familiar with hosting and website development and don’t know where to start. However, there are now website design tools like Squarespace that allow you to create your own unique site without having to learn HTML coding. You can solve this by hiring a web designer and developer to set up everything for you.
Self-hosting is more expensive and requires more time and effort since you’re building everything from scratch. It also puts maintenance in your hands, so it’s your responsibility to ensure that your site is always up and running. However, it gives you the freedom to fully customize your website that presents your product in the best possible way.
Neither option is necessarily better than the other. As is often the case, it depends on your own priorities and preferences. If you’re a control freak, you might want to host your own e-commerce site. If you would rather just have things work smoothly and easily then you might be better off using a hosting service.
Don’t Dismiss Brick-And-Mortar Stores
Of course, selling your product online is not the only choice! Putting your product on store shelves is still a great way to get it into the hands of your customers — or at least raise brand awareness. Here are some strategies you can use:
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to see your product displayed in Walmart, Target, and other popular stores. However, achieving this can be difficult, especially if you’re still starting out. These big-name chains are often hesitant about partnering with small businesses, so you’ll have to prove your worth before you can get into their door. If your ultimate goal is to see your product on the shelves of major retailers, consider product licensing.
With this in mind, it’s advisable to start with small retailers in your area. These businesses are usually more receptive to new products from startups and inventors since they can order just a handful of units. This is advantageous for both sites: local retailers don’t have to take a huge risk, and you won’t be pressured into producing large batches.
The best part about working with small local retailers is that you’ll get instantaneous feedback not just from the customers but also from the store owners themselves. This is a great (and often free) way to obtain helpful feedback for your product, and you can definitely use their comments and suggestions to improve your design and create a better version.
Consider Opening Your Own Shop
This isn’t usually a viabl option for new product startups, since running a store requires a lot of money and hard work and is kind of an overwhelming project in its own right. It significantly reduces the amount of time you can spend on inventing, tinkering, and creating product designs since most of your hours will be spent on admin tasks and customer service.
That said, if it’s really your dream to sell your product in your own shop, nothing should stop you from making it come true! Running your own store can be a rewarding experience, and it can even lead to higher earnings since you get 100 percent of the revenues. As long as you’re aware of the challenges involved and are willing to face them, you’re all set. Usually, though, you’re better off starting out with a webstore if you want to take advantage of vertical integration.
Make Marketing Your Friend
Whether you decide to sell your product online or in a brick-and-mortar store, you have to come up with excellent marketing strategies. After all, even if you have the best and most advanced product design in the world, it would still be useless if no one knows that it exists. Use SEO techniques to improve your website visibility and increase your search engine ranking, and be active on social media so you can reach out to your target audience.
Don’t forget “real-world” marketing, too. Distributing fliers and leaflets and putting up posters and billboards are still a good way to increase brand recognition. You can also give free samples (if possible) and/or create an environment where people can have a hands-on experience with your product.
Product licensing is often the best way to get your item on the shelves of major retailers quickly and efficiently. Leasing out your intellectual property to well-estbalished retailers or manufacturers is a great way to earn a good income as an inventor. We can help you out! Get in in touch today for a free quote, and let us know how we can help you get your product on store shelves.