Part 2 – Elimination: 3 Stages of Product Development; Explore. Eliminate. Execute. (Business Tips!)

Developing products that sell takes a discipline of moving through the 3 stages of product development: Exploration, Elimination and Execution. If you feel discouraged because what you created didn’t “work,” it might be due to one of these 3 stages needing a little more product development tweaking.

In this blog post, I’ll be focusing on the 2nd stage of production development, the practice of elimination. You might be interested in reading the previous blog post about the 1st stage of product development, exploration, prior to reading about stage 2.


Stage 2 of Product Development: ELIMINATION

Weeding out the garden of ideas can be really challenging for many. For myself, I find it to be a relief. It is kind of like going into a thrift store and being relieved that you didn’t actually find something (any of you do that?) I often have so many ideas up on my idea boards that I overwhelm myself. The systems that I have in place about “revisiting” ideas by storing them away (a step discussed in phase 1) helps me to know that I’m not saying “no” forever to particular ideas, I’m just saying “no” for now.

Here are some of the ways that I decide on which ideas to eliminate. I ask myself the following questions:


WHAT CUSTOMER-NEED WILL THIS FINDING FULFILL WITHIN OUR COLLECTION?

I spend a lot of time looking at our sales numbers. I watch to see which items are selling well, which are starting to plateau, which are starting to decline. The sales help me know which items I need to expand on and which items I need to think about replacing. I’m always asking myself, “Will this finding increase our sales?”


IS THERE A NEED FOR THIS FINDING WITHIN THE MARKET?

100 other companies might be producing something just like the finding that I am interested in. Just because there are a lot of findings already like it doesn’t qualify for it to be voted off the island. Can we do it better? How will our finding be unique? Will it be able to help us sell more of another item? Will it make it easier for our customers to shop all of the findings that they will need and to have a consistent look with other Nunn Design findings?


IS IT A FINDING THAT OUR CUSTOMERS HAVE BEEN ASKING FOR?

I think it is really important to listen to our customer’s requests for products. If the customer is invested enough to take the time to ask, I do my best to try to fit their needs. I can’t always, but I do try.


CAN WE MANUFACTURE IT?

Oh, that small detail. I put a great deal of time thinking about the flow of our production. I don’t want any one area of our manufacturing process to be heavy and bottlenecked. If our soldering department has already been maxed out because of peaks in sales due to a “hot” product, I don’t want to add more onto the plate of the soldering team. Or, I might need to think about setting up another soldering station and hiring additional people. Do we have the budget for that right now?


COST ANALYSIS

Part of the elimination process happens after we have built out the model. I need to know many factors about the “idea” before we can do the cost analysis on it. How much does it weigh? How much will it cost to cast and plate? Where will it price out in comparison to other products that we produce? Where will we be priced within the market? Will our customers be able to create with this item and be able to resell a piece of jewelry with the price point that we will need to charge for it?


TAKE TIME TO EXPLORE BEFORE ELIMINATING IT.

This is a step that I have just recently found the value of. Many great ideas have been eliminated before I did due diligence of vetting them through exploration. And the same is true for items that I have released but didn’t take the time to play with. Take time to explore creating with the product before eliminating it, you will be happy with what you discover (especially if it doesn’t work!)


TEST AND GET FEEDBACK. OFFER A FLASH SALE!

This is another step that has helped us a great deal. Nunn Design offers Flash Sales throughout the year to include with many of the aspects of our product development process. By offering a Flash Sale, we know that we can try out a product and get feedback without having to fully commit (yet) to offering the product to our collection of findings. We learn a lot about what customers do or don’t want or like. We learn about the challenges we will have in manufacturing the item. We learn more about the hidden costs that are associated with production (labor is more accurate, production loss due to damage, things like that.) Even if we love an item and our customer does too, it is best to let some products be delayed or eliminated from the release until we can get the product just right.


There you go. That wraps up the 2nd stage of product development. I hope there were some good insights into understanding the importance of elimination when developing products.


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