Sink or Sell Episode 3 - Succeed From the Failure of Others: The Pitfalls in Retail Product Launch

7th April 2017

Discover what can make or break your product launch, with help from Jeff Baltz, from Amp Consulting. Jeff boasts more than 15 years in consumer electronic sales and operations, working with retailers and manufactures in both the United States and Asia. He’s managed programs with some of the most well known national retailers, from Costco and Best Buy to Target and Amazon. 

According to Jeff, common mistakes in product launches can be traced all the way back to the initial planning stages. Before all else, it’s important for entrepreneurs to plan, plan, plan, so they can avoid these pitfalls. For example, know all of your costs, from the manufacturer to the store shelves, so that you can properly evaluate your product’s market fit. A product may fit your intended audience great at $69, but if you ensue a multitude of costs through production and are forced to raise your price to $99 per unit, then suddenly your market isn’t the same at all, and you may not see the same sales.

This ties in with knowing thoroughly who your consumer is. You may have a general idea in your head, but if you never actually test the product with these real-life consumers, you have no idea how they’ll respond. It’s not simply good enough to test your product out on the people around you, say your mom or your best friend. You have to get out of the “echo chamber,” where people are simply parroting your words back to you. Find complete strangers to give you brutally honest advice; it’ll save you money in the long run.

When working with a retailer, don’t make the horrific mistake of missing your first, second and third deadlines. These are early changes for you to inspire your retailer’s confidence in your brand and your product. After all, they’re taking quite a chance on you by ordering your previously unheard of product. When you miss out on your deadlines, whether for delivering working samples or for showing up with production packaging, you become someone who simply can’t deliver in the retailer’s eyes. Always under promise and over perform.

Before even heading to a retailer to pitch your product, discover the costs of getting your product ready for retail. It can be relatively easy to get a good idea. Many factories have a minimum order quantity of 3,000 units. If it’s going to cost you $30 to produce each unit, then you have your total. Keep in mind, however, that it’s not just as easy as getting a purchase order, producing you product, sending it to the retailer and then cashing a check. While you can get paid relatively quickly when selling online, retailers pay extremely slowly. After you deliver the product, it could be up to three months before you see any payment at all. You need to have a financial buffer there to hold you over while waiting for your first payment.

It’s also important to look for multiple channels and think about where your target customer is shopping. Then, do your research. Some retailers may only have two product reviews a year, and you’ll want to be sure you get your foot in the door then. If you’ve missed the deadline, at least be sure to put your product on the radars of the appropriate people.

Put certain roadblocks into place to keep retailers from selling your product as a third-party at a cheaper rate. Once your product is available for varying prices, consumers will begin shopping around, waiting for the best deal, which means they never buy at all. In addition, many retailers don’t like seeing that they’re charging more for a product than someone else. It means lost money for both you and them.

The main takeaways that Jeff leaves us with — good planning and industry knowledge is all it takes to avoid the most common pitfalls associated with product launches. Valuable advice from a consulting agency, like Amp Consulting, can go a long way toward making sure you have both the plan and the smarts you need to succeed. Reach Jeff and his entire team at the Amp Consulting website, amp-consulting.com

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