I had a chance this summer to do some retail shopping outside the U.S. to look at how our products are sold. It was fascinating to experience the non-U.S buying process and I came away with a laundry list of things we need to improve on.
Rohit Bhargava covers the importance of doing this activity in his recent article, “Forget Eating Your Own Dog Food – Just Try Buying It …“:
You need to experience the entire process around buying it to really understand your customers. That means you need to shop around. You need to go into a retail store to try and purchase, or buy it online and see how long it takes to arrive. What did the box it came in look like? What was the condition of it? Did you get any follow up from anyone after you bought it.
I would like to add to this from the product development side. There’s a lot to consider when it comes to where and how your product will end up being sold:
- What are all the channels that my product will be sold in?
- How is the buying process different across these channels?
- How do I need to communicate my product benefits (may be different by channel)?
- How can I improve over what my competitors are doing?
- How often do I need to change or update (for example, to stay fresh on the shelf)?
You may find there are a lot of elements that you can’t control (especially if you are selling through retail). But this is why it is important that you examine and look for opportunities to make sure your product is not only the best but also perceived as the best.
Using the books example, Seth explains this point nicely with his post on “The purpose of a book cover“,
Tactically, the cover sells the back cover, the back cover sells the flap and by then you’ve sold the book. If those steps end up selling a book that the purchaser doesn’t like, game over. So you have to be consistent all the way through and end up creating a conversation after the purchase.
Bottom line, your product needs a good book cover.