You’ve got a great eCommerce product idea and you’re ready to get started building a new online business venture. But, before you dive headfirst into developing and producing your product you need to do some serious fact-checking.
One of the most valuable things any business owner can do before launching a company is to determine that there’s a demand for whatever they want to sell. Do other people a.k.a your potential customers think your new product is as amazing as you do?
As exciting as it might be to jump into your new life as an entrepreneur, there’s nothing more painful (or expensive) than spending all your time and energy on a venture that just can’t succeed. Did you know a lack of hungry and interested customers is the number one reason new companies crash and burn?
Let’s not let that be you.
The unfortunate truth is that figuring out whether a business is going to be successful or not is easier said than done. There are some bizarre eCommerce product ideas out there that have turned out to be an incredible success – like CBD infused candies for example. There are also products with plenty of merits that just never took off.
Learning how to validate interest in your eCommerce products before you take them to market gives you an incredible opportunity to save money and build better relationships with your target audience.
So, where do you get started?
The basics of eCommerce validation: Understanding your product
Before you can begin testing the validation strategies that we’re going to outline below, you need to start with the right information. One of the biggest problems that today’s business owners have is that they don’t fully understand what they’re trying to sell before they jump in head-first.
To start, sit down and answer some questions about the logistics of your product. These questions include:
- Who you’re trying to sell to: Who’s your target audience? What pain points does your new product idea solve? And are you offering the easiest solution on the market?
- How are you going to sell: What is your marketing strategy? How are you going to bring your target audience to your website? Maybe it’s through targeting people on Facebook or perhaps you want to attract customers looking for your eCommerce product on Google?
- Are there any special requirements to think about: How are you going to store and ship your products? Are your products fragile and in need of extra packaging? Which companies are you going to use to ship products to your customers?
Once you have plenty of information about the kind of product you’re going to be selling, and why you’re selling it, you can begin the validation process.
Step 1: Conduct a competitor analysis
Research is at the heart of any validation strategy. Exploring what’s going on in the current market helps you to understand what your customers are looking for, as well as the solutions that they already have available to them.
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Competitor analysis is one of the most important pieces of research that you can do. With competitor analysis, you can see if there’s already a demand for whatever you’re selling. You can also see if there’s too much saturation in the market. For instance, if you’re selling fidget spinners in a world where there are billions of fidget spinner companies, you’re going to have a hard time standing out.
During your competitor analysis, look at things like:
- Pricing: What kind of revenue and most importantly profit can you expect to make on this new idea?
- Popularity: Are the items you’re looking into selling currently best-sellers for your competitors?
- Gaps: Is there anything that your product or service can do that your competitors can’t offer?
The easiest way to find competitors is to try a quick Google search. For instance, if you were looking for local marketing companies:
You can also search for #Hashtags on social media or check out what people are saying on forums. Listening to your customer’s complaints and comments about competitors will help you to figure out which features you should be focusing on most with your new product.
Step 2: Check Google Trends
Google is a very valuable tool for business owners validating their eCommerce product ideas. It can give you insight into how popular your products are by showing you things like top-ranking pages, and keyword search volume.
However, Google can also give you insight into whether your product is just another trending idea or something that’s going to deliver a solid and steady return over time. Google Trends allows you to track the search volume for a specific keyword over a period of time. You can use this to check whether people are starting to talk about your products more regularly, whether interest is consistent, or if excitement is dying down.
Let’s take a look at the incredible rise and fall of fidget spinners for instance.
Interest over time quickly peaked at the beginning of March 2017 and immediately fell within a few months.
The best ideas for your eCommerce site are the ones that can generate revenue and engagement for you over time. This means that you want to look for a trend graph where the line of interest is increasing over time or one that has remained steady over the years.
Step 3: Get customer feedback
There are two ways that you can get customer feedback during the initial validation stage.
First, you can check some of the reviews and testimonials left by customers on review sites for your competitors. This is an excellent way to see what other companies are doing wrong with a specific product, so you can make your offering stand out.
The other option is to send samples of a possible product to a few stakeholders and people that you can trust. Pro tip: don’t try and gather feedback from your friends and family – you need the information that you collect here to be as objective as possible.
You can also see what comes in when you type “best online [Product]” into Google to get feedback from influencers and thought-leaders too.
The feedback that you collect in all of these areas will help you to decide whether:
- People regret purchasing the product in question.
- You can deliver a better product than your competitors.
- If there is enough demand and interest in the product.
Step 4: Build a landing page to accept pre-orders
Here’s the cool thing about creating landing pages online.
You don’t have to invest in a product before you do it. You can decide on the eCommerce product idea that you want to validate, design your website, and then purchase supplies only if you get a significant response.
You can even run Google ads to drive people to your landing page and then retarget them without making a lot of initial investment.
Running a landing page allows you to get a basic insight into the kind of response you’re going to get from customers when you launch your new product. Keep in mind that various things can affect the performance of your landing pages however, including your wording, layout, and even your CTA buttons.
One excellent option to start generating interest for your product is to add a button to the page that allows customers to sign up to be informed when your new product is ready to purchase. This will give you a list of customers that you can immediately expect sales from when you’re ready to launch. At the same time, you gain greater insight into the kind of people that are interested in your items.
Step 5: Do the math
Finally, this might be one of the most boring parts of validating your eCommerce idea, but it’s also one of the most essential. You’ll need to figure out exactly how profitable your new product is going to be. You will lose your enthusiasm and interest in the long run if you aren’t making a good profit and maintaining positive cash flow.
You’ll need a few pieces of information to create your financial calculations, including the price of your product, the number of customers you think you’re likely to get (based on your landing page tests), and the cost of your goods sold. Additionally, consider the cost of any extra expenses like building and running an eCommerce website, logistics, marketing, and paying for staff too.
If you’re not sure exactly how much you should be charging for your new product, check out the competition. You should be able to get a reasonable idea of how much something should cost by looking at the businesses that came before you. Then based on your financial calculation, check if the price of the competitors can cover all your costs and that you can still make a profit. If not, then maybe you need to increase your price but also consider what extra do you offer to charge a higher price?
There are even places that you can track down case studies from other growing businesses online that might help you to make a more informed pricing decision.
Finally, once you understand your financials, calculate your startup costs, and how much money you need to get started. Remember that building an eCommerce website can be expensive, especially if you decide to hire a professional company to build it for you. Don’t forget costs such as branding, graphic design, photography, content writing, this all will need to add up to your startup costs.
Once you have all of the right numbers in place, ask yourself how much money you need to get started and how much money you’ll be left with when you subtract the price of making and selling the product, with the profits from purchases.
Is the effort worth it?
Only you can make that decision.
Are you feeling validated?
Validating your eCommerce product idea before you launch your business is a bit like creating a full business plan. It can be a time-consuming process, and it requires some effort. However, it’s also one of the best ways to make sure that you’re investing in something that’s going to pay off. It’s better to know before you’ve spent your life savings on a new product idea, whether it’s going to be a good idea or not.
If you discover that the item you were planning on selling isn’t nearly as valuable as you thought – don’t despair. You can always go back to the drawing board and consider something new. You may even discover new sales ideas when you’re doing your validation process by checking out the gaps in your competitor’s portfolio or examining the latest trends.
Remember: imagine, plan, validate, and then implement.