Developing a new product is not easy; it can be challenging if you do not know the steps for product development. Levels can differ for every industry, but majorly, we can divide them into five stages. These stages are- ideation, researching, outlining, prototyping, sourcing, and costing.
In this blog, we will discover how to develop your original product idea and consider it at each stage.
The new product development process in 5 steps
First of all, many ambitious entrepreneurs get stuck on ideation because there is a lot of competition in the market. They are looking to discover the perfect product they should sell. While creating something radically “new” can be creatively fulfilling, there are various ideas that result from emphasizing upon an existing product.
The SCAMPER model is a valuable tool for instantly getting up with product ideas by asking existing products. Each letter stands for a prompt:
- Substitute (e.g., fur in faux fur)
- Combine (e.g., a phone cover and a battery pack)
- Adapt (e.g., a bra with front clasps for nursing)
- Modify (e.g., an electric toothbrush with a sleeker design)
- Put to another use (e.g., memory foam dog beds)
- Eliminate (e.g., the broker to sell sunglasses and pass the savings on to consumers)
- Reverse/Rearrange (e.g., a duffle bag so that it doesn’t wrinkle your clothes)
By asking these questions, you can develop new ways to modify existing ideas or even readjust them for a unique targeted audience or difficulty.
Research is the utmost step in every field, and with the product idea in mind, you may be willing to jump ahead of your production, but this step can be misleading if you fail to authenticate your idea in the first place.
Product validation guarantees that you’re creating a product that will save time, money, and effort and an idea that will sell. There are numerous ways you can verify your product ideas, including:
- sharing about your plan with family and friends
- Carrying out an online survey to get feedback
- Start with a crowdfunding campaign
- Asking for feedback on social forums
- Studying online request applying Google Trends
Starting a “coming soon” page to excite new customers via email opt-ins or pre-orders
However, you need to decide how to go with the validation of your idea; it is essential to get feedback from a considerable and fair audience about whether they would buy your product. Be careful of exceeding input from people who “surely would buy” if you were to build your ideal product—until money changes hands, you can’t count someone as a consumer.
Authentic research also inevitably involves a competitive examination. If your approach or niche has the potential to take off, there are possible contenders already working.
Visiting your competitors’ website and signing up for their email list will allow you to know how they pull customers and make sales. Asking your potential consumers what they admire or avoid about your competitors will also be crucial in determining your competitive edge.
The information gathered from doing the product validation, and market research will evaluate the demand for your product and the level of competition before you start developing.
Since product advancement can become complicated, it’s essential to use the time to prepare before building your model.
Before you approach manufacturers or start searching for materials, make sure that you have a concrete idea of what your product looks like and how it will function; otherwise, it is easy to get lost in the following steps.
The best way to start planning is with a hand-drawn representation of what your product will look like. Sketch as detailed as possible, with descriptions explaining the different features and functions.
You do not need a professional-quality design as you are not submitting it to a manufacturer at this stage. However, if you are not convinced that you can create a precise diagram representing your product, it is easy to find artists for hire on Dribbble, UpWork, or Minty.
Strive to use your design to build a list of the different elements or materials you will need to bring the product to life. The list does not need to be comprehensive of all potential features, but it should enable you to begin outlining what you will need to design the product.
For example, a drawing of a bag design could be accompanied by this list:
- Zippers (large and small)
- Silver buckles
- Leather bands
- Protection sack
- Embossed label
- Inside wallet
Along with these elements, you need to keep this thing in mind that you should begin with the consideration of the retail price or category your product will occur. Keeping all these questions in the planning phase will help guide you through your product development process and your brand positioning and marketing strategy.
The packaging, labels, and overall quality of your stuff should be considered before proceeding with the sourcing and costing stages. These will influence how you market your product to reach your targeted customers, so it’s essential to consider these aspects of your product during the planning phase.
The purpose of the prototyping stage during product development is to build a complete product to use it as a sample for mass production.
Finished products may need a few attempts to produce it exactly the same as you desire. The prototyping step includes experimenting with different versions of your product, gradually eliminating options, and making changes until you feel fulfilled with a final sample.
Prototyping also varies depending upon the type of product you are building. The not so expensive and most uncomplicated cases are products you can prototype yourself, such as recipes and some cosmetic products. This DIY prototyping can further stretch to style, pottery, design, and other verticals if you know these disciplines.
However, some entrepreneurs work with a third party to prototype their product. In the fashion and apparel industry, this usually requires working with a local seamstress (for clothing and accessories), cobbler (for shoes), or design maker (for clothing). These services can typically be found online with the help of Googling local services in the industry.
For things like toys, household accessories, electronics, and many other hard-exterior purposes, you may need a 3D rendering to create a model. For getting these services, you can use UpWork or Freelancer. Some online tools are user-friendly, such as SketchUp, TinkerCad, and Vectary, for those who want to learn how to build 3D models for themselves.
Fortunately, with 3D printing innovation, designs can be converted into physical samples at a very lower cost with quicker turnaround time.
Once you have done a product prototype you’re happy with, it is time to gather the materials and secure the partners needed for production. It is also known as building your supply chain: the vendors, actions, and resources required to create a product and make it into customers’ hands.
While this stage will largely involve looking for manufacturing-related services, you can also add more factors in storage, shipping, and warehousing into your choices at this stage.
You need to find multiple suppliers for the various materials you will require and several potential manufacturers, that will allow you to compare costs. Even it also has an attached benefit of building a backup option if one of your suppliers or manufacturers doesn’t work out. Sourcing many opportunities is an integral part of protecting your business for the long-term.
When viewing for suppliers, there are several resources, both online and in person. It may sound old-fashioned, but many business owners prefer to attend trade shows devoted to sourcing. There are many Trade shows such as Magic in Las Vegas, allow seeing hundreds of vendors at once—to observe, touch, and discuss materials and develop a personal relationship with suppliers, that would be helpful when it comes time to negotiate prices.
In the sourcing phase, you will surely come across the decision, like whether to produce your product locally or overseas. It is good to analyze both the two options, as both of them have their advantages and disadvantages.
After the researching, planning, prototyping, and sourcing part has done, you should have a precise picture of what it will take to create your product. Costing is the means of making all of the data gathered thus far, and summing up what your cost of goods sold (COGS) will be so that you can fix a retail price and gross margin.
Start by preparing a spreadsheet with every additional cost that occurred as a separate line item. It should cover all of your raw materials, factory setup costs, production costs, and shipping costs. It is essential to factor in shipping, import fees, and any duties you will need to pay to get your final product into the customers’ hands. These charges can have a notable impact on your COGS, depending on where you are producing the product.
If you could acquire multiple quotes for various materials or manufacturers during the sourcing phase, you can add different columns for each line item that analyzes the cost. Another alternative is to build a second version of the spreadsheet to compare local production vs. overseas production.
Once you have calculated the total COGS, you can come up with a retail price for your goods and deduct the COGS from that price to get your possible gross margin, or profit, on each unit sold.
Product development in popular industries
The product development method will usually differ by industry, so let’s take a brief look at everything you might have to acknowledge for three of the most prominent and most well-established sectors: Fashion and Apparel, Beauty and Cosmetics, and Food and Beverage.
These three industries have comparatively simple paths to product development.
Fashion and Apparel
In the fashion business, product development generally begins with the old school way: with a hand-drawn design, or the digital equivalent using a program like Procreate.
A design is then formed into a sample applying a pattern maker or seamstress. Throughout the prototyping phase, a size set has produced, representing a series of samples with various measurements for every size you want to sell. Once the size set has finalized, it is put into production.
Instead of making the product, some fashion and apparel companies choose print-on-demand to design their clothing initially. Print-on-demand empowers you to upload designs to a third-party app that attaches your store with a warehouse and screen-printing facility. When an order has placed online, your design is printed on the existing stock of t-shirts, sweaters, and various other items on offer, producing a finished product without the need to design the entire garment.
Other factors to consider:
- Hangtags: the branded tag hangs from a garment that usually carries information like price, size, etc.
- Labels: the fabric tags stitched or imprinted into a garment usually comprise information about fabric contents and care instructions
- Wash tests: placing your product through wash tests to know whether it holds up over time and how it should be taken care of.
Beauty and Cosmetics
The beauty and cosmetics industry involves a wide array of continuously expanding products due to wellness and self-care trends. From makeup to bath products and skincare, many beauty brands focus on all-natural components and sustainability, which makes it more obvious to prototype a product on your using daily ingredients.
White labeling is also widespread in the beauty and cosmetics industry. It is the method of getting an existing product or manufacturer, then packaging and marking the products they already produce. Whichever way you decide to take, mass manufacturing for cosmetics is usually done by working with a lab and a chemist to ensure the quality stays consistent at scale.
Other factors to consider:
- Labels and warnings: knowing all materials applied in the product and any possible reactions
- Laws and regulations: researching FDA laws and how they concern your product and packaging, where they have produced and where you plan to sell them
- Shelf life: administering tests and adding necessary expiration dates to products.
Food and Beverage
Food and beverage products are amongst the most accessible, to begin with at a low cost and from your comfort. Building a new energy bar can be as easy as buying ingredients and tweaking it in your kitchen.
To go from ingredients to packaged goods, you can trade-in stores or online; you will need to find a commercial kitchen that is allowed to produce food and has given a health and safety inspection.
These kitchens are typically set up with huge ovens and cooking appliances to hold large batches. If you are counting mass production and packaging, a co-packer or co-manufacturer might be a more suitable option. These are manufacturing tools that specialize in preparing raw materials and delivering food and beverage products at scale.
Other factors to consider:
- Labels and warnings: ingredient lists, nutritional information to present
- Laws and regulations: many countries have rules around dietary data, allergen warnings, and health claims that you will require to comply with
- Expiry dates: knowing your product life and how you will compose, package, and stock it to accommodate this.
What will you bring to the market?
During product development, every journey to a complete product is distinctive, and every industry has its own individual set of quirks involved in creating something new. If you find yourself striving to figure it all out, remember that every product that came before yours had to master the same hurdles.
By understanding these steps as you start your product development process, you can cut down the overwhelming task of producing a new product to market into more digestible phases.
No matter what you’re generating, by putting in all the important preparation—by researching, planning, prototyping, sourcing, and costing—you can set yourself up for a strong final product.