Every eCommerce business owner is or should be familiar with the art of bringing a new product or service to the public, a process called product development. Your product could be anything from consumer goods, to internet software, to services such as dog walking or furniture moving.
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The stages of new product development typically include the idea, research, design, test, analysis, and launch.
You might be familiar with many of these areas, but let’s take a closer look at the stages and also focus on a few areas within these main concepts, such as mobile UX, information security, supply chain management and customer feedback.
Idea: Some people start with simple ideas based on a product that already exists while others are trying to push their way into becoming business disruptors. Many leading manufacturers will dedicate entire departments that focus solely on becoming the ‘next big thing.’ A good example of this is the invention of the compact sports utility vehicle, which was introduced as a Jeep Cherokee (XJ) in the ‘80s and later became the mid-sized SUV Jeep Grand Cherokee. A company will often have hundreds of ideas and sift through the good ones to develop a product that will actually be profitable while simultaneously solve problems for consumers.
Research: Of course you want to minimize the risk of failure for the product. Is there a demand for the product? Can you define the target market? Market research and the data gleaned from it will influence the decision-making process. You’ll be able to focus on the benefits of the product and see if there’s an actual need if you have good market research, even if you aren’t quite sure how to achieve your goals.
Design: After you’ve gone through the ideation phase, you need to start executing the best way to design the product. Engineering details and software development are probably major parts of bringing your product to fruition and flushing out your high-level concepts. Depending on the scale of your product, you could be hiring one person or team of experts. You could be outsourcing the work to the freelancers or hiring a firm.
Testing: Every product needs testing before it’s launched. It could even be a part of the design phase of the product. After you have a prototype, most companies will unveil their product to a small group of actual consumers.
If users are testing your website, they should know within seconds whether they want to stay and click on the product details page or, if they are confused, they’ll leave. They want to see the price, how much they are saving by using your product, and how to buy it, all at a quick glance. The user experience on mobile should be designed just as carefully.
Part of a developers job isn’t just creating software that provides core function to customers, but to make sure there are no security holes that can be exploited by hackers. For both technical professionals and non-tech business people alike, security is at the top of mind right now. Some companies are even hiring information security analysts with Bachelor of Science degrees to make sure customers’ information is safe. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that from 2016 to 2026, information security analysts employment is projected to grow 28 percent.
Analysis: Consumer feedback from testing will allow you to make necessary changes in the next round of development. You may not be quite ready to launch the product into the market. You may need to tweak the price or figure out how to better market the product to provide a more meaningful and personal experience for the user.
Launch: Once the product development stages are implemented, it’s time to introduce your product or service to the market. It doesn’t mean you have everything perfectly dialed in, but you’ll continue to manage the product throughout its lifecycle.
Once the product is rolled out, and as part of the supply chain management process, you or someone else who’s made a career in supply chain management will be looking at ways to reduce costs and increase efficiency, plus develop strategies to ensure product quality, safety for customers, and overall customer satisfaction.