Congratulations on your amazing new product idea! It’s a big deal to come up with something that you think makes life easier, will change the world, or is just really cool. But developing a product takes much more than binge-watching episodes of Shark Tank. There are many steps between idea and reality – and lucky for you, we’ve reduced them down to 4! Here’s Amp Consulting’s brief list of 4 things you need to know when you decide you're ready to develop a hardware product:
1. Do your homework.
Just because you’ve created something that solves a major issue in your life and those of your loved ones doesn’t mean the public will be into it. Do some market research to figure out if your product resonates. And this doesn’t have to cost much money - conduct an online survey, go to your target retailer and ask shoppers. Also, don’t ignore the competition. How are similar products selling? Is the market flooded with products like yours? Then keep an open mind and use the information you gain to truly assess the viability of your product.
2. Take it slow.
Try not to let the excitement of getting your product made and launched turn into a rush to get it done. A simple non-tech product like a smartphone case can still take as much as 6 months to develop and manufacture. While your timeline is the backbone of your project, things will take longer than expected and challenges will arise. If you want your product done right, time really is your best friend.
3. It ain’t cheap.
Launching a new product can cost a lot of money. And while crowdfunding makes it easier to raise cash (and do market research, see tip #1), eventually you have to use that money to fulfill your backers’ orders. Every product isn’t made the same but you should expect to have a lot of up-front costs in manufacturing (prototypes, tooling, certifications), marketing (graphic design, website development, packaging), sales (UPC codes, sales decks, trips to meet with buyers), and logistics (shipping, warehousing, customer service). Even when your product is a homerun and a major retailer wants it in their assortment, it has to sell before you’ll see a dime in return. But while you may not be able to quit your day job right way, no need to get discouraged. A great option is to connect with VC’s, who are funding hardware startups more than ever.
4. What’s the (sales) plan?
Are you launching in a big box retail store, or in boutiques around the country? Or will it be sold only through your website? The answer affects how much you make per unit sold, the way you market, even your product cost and retail. For example, if you choose to sell the product only through your website then maybe you’ll decide to hire an amazing web developer and skip paying for fancy color packaging. If launching in big box stores you may need to market using their in-store programs (like mailers or an endcap, all of which cost money) and piggyback on their social media. Sales isn’t just about waiting for the money to come in - how and where you sell your product also affect your bottom line.
Turning your idea into real product is a huge project that can cost you time, energy and money…but it can also be an incredibly successful adventure. Don’t be afraid to go for it, just be ready for whatever comes your way.
Tell us in the comments about things that surprised you when you were launching your hardware product!