The Six Steps to Developing a New Product for Your eCommerce Store

The Six Steps to Developing a New Product for Your eCommerce Store

Whether you’re launching your first ecommerce store or looking to refresh the lineup of your existing business, at some point you’re going to have to develop a new product. However, coming up with an idea for a good or service that will actually succeed in the market is no small feat, nor is developing that idea for success. While we can’t promise that every idea you come up with will be your golden ticket to business stardom, these steps for developing a new product for your ecommerce store will help:

  • Identify and research an opportunity
  • Begin development
  • Test your prototype
  • Start sourcing
  • Position your product in the market
  • Launch

Identify and Research an Opportunity

The first step to developing a new good or service is identifying what that good or service will actually be. There has to be an opportunity in the market for your new merchandise to fulfill a consumer need, otherwise it won’t find the level of success you’re hoping for. One excellent way to come up with a product that will create an opportunity for your business is to use the acronym SCAMPER:

  • Substitute: Can you develop a good that acts as a substitute for something else? For example, you could offer a soy-wax candle in place of a beeswax candle to fulfill a need for vegan consumers.
  • Combine: Are there two products that can be bundled into one to increase their value? Bundling a frying pan with set of kitchen knives might appeal to consumers who enjoy cooking.
  • Adapt: Can you adapt an existing product to fulfill a secondary need? For example, making a pair of running shoes waterproof makes them appealing to runners but also people who want to wear comfortable shoes in a variety of weather.
  • Modify: One way of developing a new product is to take an existing one and modify it so it appears different but serves the same purpose. For example, if you sell phone cases, changing how they look doesn’t change their function but it might help them appeal to more customers (or convince current customers to upgrade).
  • Put to Another Use: Perhaps you already sell an item that serves one purpose but can be used for another. For example, watch bands meant for actual watches could be used for smartwatches.
  • Eliminate: This option typically removes a middleman from the selling process which reduces costs for consumers. You can also eliminate unnecessary frills from an item or unnecessary production processes.
  • Reverse/Rearrange: Would your item be improved by rearranging its design? For example, if you sell purses, you could play around with where you place pockets to increase their functionality.

When trying to come up with an idea for developing a new product, it also helps to know the four main types of goods or services you can create:

  • Breakthrough Goods: This is the item that most people think of when they picture themselves creating a new product. A breakthrough good is one that is entirely new to the market. It may advance technology significantly or greatly improve upon an existing product.
  • Sustaining Goods: This type of product takes one that already exists in the market and upgrades it to a new generation. You may make cosmetic or functionality changes, and use it to reduce costs, improve your product line, and extend the life cycle of your goods.
  • Platform Goods: A platform product is one that uses similar design and components from other products within the same family.
  • Disruptive Goods: This type of good is unique in the sense that it will start out in the market slowly before rapidly expanding. Typically you start out offering a simple and affordable solution to a consumer issue. Growth will start slowly but as you expand, you begin improving your good until you capture the mainstream market.

Once you’ve settled on an idea for developing a new product, you then need to research that idea. The research will show you whether it’s viable and worth pursuing before you enter the development period, so you don’t waste your time. A few ways to research your idea include:

  • Talking: Mention it to the people you know such as friends, family and coworkers. If you have trouble generating personal support or those people point out flaws in your concept, then your idea might not be the right one to pursue.
  • Focus Groups and Surveys: You should also talk to the wider, unbiased public. Because they don’t know you, they can offer feedback about your idea without holding back out of concern for your feelings.
  • Crowdfunding: Crowdfunding is an excellent way to raise the money needed to research, develop and manufacture a new product. It’s also an excellent way to gauge public interest: if no one wants to fund your campaign, you might not have the right idea quite yet.
  • Research Trends: Is your idea the start of a new trend? Or is it part of a trend that died out five years ago and is unlikely to make a comeback? Aside from filling a need in the market, your idea should also be wanted.
  • Use a Coming Soon Page: Set up a landing page on your website that tells people what your plan is and allows them to sign up for email updates. You can use their voluntary engagement to gauge their interest in your idea.

Begin Development

Awesome, now you have an idea for developing a new product and you’re pretty sure the market is interested in it! However, we’re still early in the process of making your new product ready for sale. Your basic idea is unrefined and needs to be polished to a shine that will catch the eye of any consumer. That’s where the development stage comes in. In this step, begin designing what your product will look like and how it will work. Also answer the following questions, to help you focus your idea into an executable plan:

  • How will I market my product and who will I market to?
  • How am I financing this project?
  • Who do I need on my team to see this project through?
  • How will my product satisfy the client?
  • How will I stand out from the competition?
  • What is my growth potential for this good? How will it affect the growth potential of my whole business?

Test Your Prototype After Developing a New Product

Prototype testing
Prototype testing helps you smooth out flaws in the product before launch.

After the development stage is complete, you have to actually create a functional prototype of your product. This step will allow you refine your idea, work out any wrinkles, get a taste of how its manufacturing procedures will work, and test it with a variety of audiences for feedback (such as friends, family, coworkers, and various demographic groups from the public). The prototype stage is crucial because it will be your first tangible experience of your product idea. To assess the success of the item, you can use a checklist of questions which might include (but isn’t limited to):

  • Do the features of the product meet consumer needs?
  • Are any features missing or not working as expected?
  • Are there too many features?
  • Is the product easy to use?
  • Does it perform efficiently?
  • Can it be produced for a cost that’s affordable both to my business and my consumers?
  • What is the feedback from users?
  • When is the best time to release this item to the public?

Start Sourcing

The next step to releasing a new product to the market is to figure how you’re going to source it. While you may have created a few different prototypes to test out, you have to scale that procedure up to meet the demands of a potentially global audience. Research different suppliers and manufacturing sites to determine who can complete the process fastest, cheapest, and with the greatest possible accuracy. The better you source your product, the easier it will be for consumers to acquire it (which means more money in your pocket in less time).

Position Your Product in the Market

At this point, your idea has been turned into a researched, tested, tangible product. But before you can release it to the public, you need to decide where to position it in the market to create the greatest impact and return on investment. If you have the means, hiring a research and marketing team at this phase might be something to consider. However, if you don’t have the means or interest in outsourcing this part of the project, here are a few tips to do it on your own:

  • Determine Your Customer: To successfully position your product in the marketplace, you need to know who your top customers will be. Don’t try selling knitting needles in a toy store for kids, because they probably aren’t your right audience. Study the demographics and psychographics of these people to learn who they are, how they think, and the most effective ways to reach and interest them.
  • Consider Your Product: How do you want customers to perceive your product? List what they’ll think of the cost, design, purpose, usability, and more. When you understand these things about your product, you can use that knowledge to compare your goods to those of your competitors and to make sure you advertise yourself uniquely.
  • Plan Your Marketing Campaign: If you’ve already released your product to the public, it’s too late to put together an effective marketing campaign. Put together a package and schedule to detail every step of your marketing efforts before you launch.
  • Determine How You’ll Measure Success: Once you release your product into the world, you need a way of measuring how successful it is. Determine what success means to you in this case and figure out how you’ll measure it. Sales, social media engagements, page clicks, and more are all common benchmarks.


Product launch
The final step in product development is launching it to the public.

Product idea? Check. Idea research? Check. Development and prototype testing? Check. Sourcing and marketing? Check. Your to-do list now only has one last item on it: launch. Release your product, let your audience know that they can buy it, cross your fingers and hope for success!

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