eCommerce Cultivated | Episode 032

What Is Product Proof of Concept & How Do You Get It?

One of the steps each eCommerce brand owner must take is to prove they have product that will sell. This is where product proof of concept comes in.

Before going all in and investing thousands of dollars into resources, a website, etc. You need to know if people actually want to buy what you are selling and not just your friends and family. Strangers who don’t know you quite yet.

I want to dive into why this is so important especially for the business owners who come to me wanting to focus on their website. Before I accept working with any client I want to first make sure the work we do together makes sense for where they are in their business.

Join me as I dive into specifically what product proof of concept or POC is and how you can validate your ideas.

Show Notes

Explore the following resources mentioned in the episode.

Articles

Join the fb group

Other resources


Show Transcript

Welcome back! I hope you had a fabulous Summer! Honestly, our Summer here in the PNW was great! One of the best we’ve had in a long time weather wise. 

I’m excited to be back after taking a break from the podcast. I needed the break so that I could take time to think through my business direction and re-evaluate things as we head into 2022! I think it’s always good to take a step back and to regroup. Especially as entrepreneurs, we can get in this cycle of go go and not taking any breaks, that can lead to burnout. I definitely recommend when you can that you take a break so you can refresh your mind. It will help you gain better clarity around your business, life, etc.

Before I dive into today’s topic I want to share a couple of announcements.

Starting with the direction of this podcast going forward. During my break I had time to reflect and part of that reflection included defining who this podcast is for…

While previously, I have said this podcast is for those in luxury eCommerce. I really wanted to redefine if that was the case. Even though the eCommerce space is growing it still feels small especially if you are a woman and/or a person of color. While I do adore that there are so many amazing experts and consultants out there. It seems that we still have opportunities in this space for more representation. I want this podcast to be applicable to more industries and businesses. So I’m making a shift to not be exclusive to just luxury. 

Now don’t get me wrong while we will always stay true to elevated and elegant vibes with realness. This podcast is for product-based entrepreneurs, typically women who are driven, that want to serve their customers with quality products, refined online experiences and build timeliness brands.

If that is you, welcome! I’m so excited to have you here!

My next announcement – our podcast now has an online community called eCommerce Cultivated Lounge over on Facebook! This is an extension to our podcast and it will be our space to have deeper discussions and to connect. Just a heads up this is for female entrepreneurs only who have an eCommerce brand. Sorry fellas! I do adore you all but the ladies needed a space that represents them leading in eCommerce. 

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to use Facebook but I know how hard it is to change platforms when it comes to online groups. I’m definitely open to moving away from Facebook but for now this is where we’ll be and if you have any suggested platforms just DM me over at The May Creative on Instagram. 

You can request to join our Facebook community by clicking on the link in the show notes. Once you do I’ll get you into the group to connect & mingle.

Alright now for today’s topic! Product proof of concept, why it’s important and how you can get as an eCommerce brand. This topic was inspired by the business owners who come to me wanting their website complete. But haven’t taken the important step to prove that their product will actually sell. 

What Is Product Proof Of Concept In eCommerce?

Whether you are a business owner who is launching a new product for the first time or even an experienced professional going into a new market. One of the first things you’ll need to do once you have a product idea is to validate that there is a need and/or want in the market. 

This is so you can avoid or reduce the loss of building on an idea that people may or may not want.

One example of this is when you have thought of an idea and you ask your audience if they will be interested in buying the product. They say yes, you create the product and then no one buys. Why is that?

Well just because people may say they are interested in your product idea. It isn’t until they actually spend their money toward purchasing your products that you have validated the demand. 

Money parted as an exchange for your product is the true validation. Not just the words, there needs to be action behind those words.

Another thing I want to note…

While it’s great to get your first set of sales it shouldn’t just be your friends and family who are buying. Your friends and family just want to support you and that can lead to false validation. 

Your product validation or purchases need to be from real customers who are interested or motivated to buy your product. Ideally on repeat.

“Remember people validate their support by spending their money”

What’s Included In Product Proof Of Concept?

Now that you know what getting proof of your product idea is, let’s go over some things that can help you gather this information. This is one of the most important and challenging parts of the process. Especially if you are manufacturing your own products. You absolutely can not skip this step and that is getting the needed information or market research to validate interest in your product.

For market research you’ll want to review a few key areas:

Competitor Research

Competitor research is looking at who is already selling something similar or exactly like your product. In your research, you want to find out how many businesses are leading in that category. So you can figure out where in the market a gap exists to help your product stand out. Plus you can discover if customers are actively purchasing in this category. 

For example, maybe you want to enter the paper planner market which is huge! But as you’re doing research you can look at what people are most actively buying. Assess what gaps in the market exist and potentially fill that space with your product.

Customer Feedback

Get customer feedback, using the same example of paper planners – you could review feedback that customers of other brands are saying. Or get on reddit or quora to see if you can identify any frustrations customers in that area are having. From this you can find out what is working and what isn’t. Then use this information to create your product.

Projected Income

Next is money….this is important. You’ll want to know how much this product is going to cost you to produce or acquire. You’ll also need to know the cost of production and what your profit margins will be. If it costs more to produce then you’ll want to be aware of that early. Not later when you’ve invested time, resources and money.

Go to Market Strategy

Let’s discuss the market. Have a go-to market strategy which is the plan to launch a product to market. It can include things like identifying your buyer personas, defining your buyer’s journey, how you’ll attract customers into your business, etc. I’ll link some articles from my site on these topics in the show notes, so you can explore them further. Plus a link to a hubspot article that is super helpful.

Create A Demo Of Your Product & Test

When you have done the research, found a gap in the market and proven interest. It’s now time to create a demo or prototype of your product and sell it. Not just to friends and family but to the customers who you created the product for. 

Grab Your Audience’s Attention

In order to do this, you’ll need to get attention on your product. Now that you have the demo it’s time to attract those buyers you want. You can do this a few ways, by using organic methods, ads or collaborations with those in the market you want to enter.

  • If you go the organic route you can do content marketing on social media.
  • If you use ads, pick the platform that your ideal buyer uses most often.
  • If you are partnering, look for those with an engaged audience in the market you want to enter.

Recap

Let’s recap – we discussed what product proof of concept or POC is and why it’s an important step to take when you are offering something new. So you can reduce risk and offer products that people truly want to buy. 

Then we discussed how you can find proof… that people want to actually buy your product. How important research is and defining your customer journey. 

Plus exploring the cost of production. 

Be sure to look at the resources I’ll include in the show notes of this episode for further insights.

Finally, we went over some methods you can use to attract those that are interested in your product. So you can prove validation by getting sales.

I hope this episode was helpful in helping you understand product proof of concept. Don’t forget we can continue this discussion over in our Facebook community, the eCommerce Cultivated Lounge. 

If you found this episode helpful, take a few moments to leave a review. 

 I greatly appreciate you for listening and I will chat with you again in our next episode.

karen-founder-tmc 3

Hi, I'm Karen, the founder + strategist/Shopify expert behind The May Creative. I help eCommerce brand owners in luxury, lifestyle and beauty industries craft an elevated Shopify website experience. So they can take their store to the next level. Connect to learn more about working together. Or check out the episodes below or dive into some insightful eCommerce articles.

Karen

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