Adding a New Product To Your Shop
We just added the most delightful little "Market Haul" ABC flashcards to our catalog and I am a smitten kitten! They are so cute and I adore them but dang, that was a lot of work to get them up and running.
Adding a totally new type of product to your shop may not seem like a big deal (or at least that’s what I thought), but there are actually a ton of things that need to be considered.
We definitely hit some road blocks with this one, so I wanted to share our process and some helpful tidbits to save you all some headache in the future!
I broke the process down into a few categories for you.
When you add a new product, there are a lot of pieces to consider. First you need to figure out where you are going to get that product. If it involves multiple pieces, this can be a bit complicated. You’ll want to shop around to make sure you are getting the best deal. Don’t forget the shipping price. Always make sure that you are providing your reseller’s permit number so you are not getting taxed for these items. It never hurts to call a vendor and explain your idea to them--they might have an even better way to do it than you thought! Now, once you’ve hammered down the price, is this something that works for you. Eventually I'll make a more detailed post on pricing items, but generally speaking I like to price it so that I would still make money if we sold it wholesale, which is 1/2 of the retail cost.
It is also good, if possible, to order a proof so you can make EXTRA sure you are in love with the product. This may make costs a bit higher for this first round, but if you love it and trust the product, you may not have to get a physical proof in the future. ALWAYS opt to get a digital proof. Now, make sure you don’t make any decisions until you’ve considered the next few steps!!
Okay, you have a product that you like, you know the specs, now the question is, do you realistically have space for it? Adding a differently shaped product may need different kind of storage. It is much easier to store stickers than pillows, for example. If you are tight on space, you may want to look into drop shipping options. Drop shipping is when you can order the product as the orders come in. The disadvantage to this is that you don’t make as much money because drop shipping products is more expensive and often doesn’t allow you to package it with your usual branding. Again...don’t make any decisions yet!
You’ve researched the product, you have the space and now you have to think about packaging. If you have decided on drop shipping, this is probably already sorted for you, but if you’re storing it in house, you’ll need to figure out how you will present the item. For example, I have gift tags that I wrap the ribbon around. I needed to make sure I had the right size sleeve and the right size insert that would fit not only our gift tags, but also the ribbon. Also, how will will this packaging show your branding? You may need to explain how it the product is used, what the package includes, or even care instructions depending on what the item is. If this item is larger or smaller than most of your other products, you may also need to get a different size box or envelope for shipping. If it is something fragile, you’ll need to make sure you have a way to protect the item. Don’t forget to include the cost of these inner and outer packaging items into the cost. Now you have a pretty good idea of if this product is going to work for you. Time to move on to the next step.
So this is where I am constantly running into trouble. I like to move a million miles a minute and forget that sometimes things take time... OOPS! I will be ready to launch and realize that I won’t get my products in until a week after I anticipated them. It is very important to check with your vendors about ship time. Especially these days with shipping times slowing down, it is good to add in a little cushion. Not only do you need to make sure you get the materials in time, you also need to have enough time to take product photos and have time to hype the product before you launch it. I like to have at least a week where I have the products in my hands to show it off and get people excited before I actually put it on my website.
How many to order
This is going to depend on a lot of factors. First-what is your budget? Often before ordering things, I like to take on some custom painting jobs to buffer the cost. Your vendor may have a minimum order quantity. Often you can get a better price if you order more (this is called bulk pricing). If you are just starting out, it may be worth it to order fewer to see how it goes. If it is a hit, order in larger quantities the next time. If you have the space and budget and you’ve gauged a huge amount of interest, then it may make sense to order in bulk so you get a better price per item. If you’re not sure how well an item will do, it may help to do a pre-sale to get a sense of how many people are actually interested.
When selling your product, you’ll want to make sure you price it so you actually make a profit (consider the time and research you put into making it happen too!) Don’t forget to include the cost of shipping and packaging. I keep a spreadsheet of all my raw materials costs so that I know the breakdown for every type of item. Now that you have a price, make sure you have a launch date. I like to take my launch date and go back at least a week (if not two) to make sure that everyone knows something new is coming. The first week is usually a sneak peek hinting at what is coming. The second week is all about showing the features and what you love about the product. People often don’t buy on first sight--they need to see an item several times before they realize they HAVE TO HAVE IT! Now that launch day is upon you, make sure you have your listing on your site, send an email to your email list to remind folks it is time to shop. I like to provide a little discount incentive to my email list to encourage more people to shop--I only have the code last for first few days to heighten the urgency. Then sell that baby! You’ve worked hard! Sing it from the rooftops! Tell everyone you know on all your platforms!
Once you’ve gotten through all that, first take a break, take a breath, and pat yourself on the back! That was huge! But the gig isn’t up yet. Now, after your big launch, you’ll need to seek feedback from people who have ordered the product. If you can get them to post a positive review, even better! Do people find the product is lacking? It may mean you need to tweak your design or your packaging. It may mean you need to seek another vendor. If people like it, do you feel like it is priced appropriately? How is shipping going? Have you hit any snags? This is good to do within the month after your product has launched. It can also be good to reevaluate after a year. If it is a seasonal product, it may be worth it to try out two seasons with the product.
Whew! Exhausting, right? Well to help you in launching your next great new product, I made a quick and easy checklist to make sure you're covering all your bases. Fill our the form below to get the PDF emailed right to ya!