- 17 December 2014
The world runs on countless goods and services that make our lives more convenient, more interesting, or more fun, but have you ever wondered how something goes from a simple concept to a physical product in your hands?
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1. Product concept
It all starts with an idea. Ask yourself what your product is and how you want other people to use it.
Some of the best methods for coming up with new ideas:
- Solve a common, practical problem that is bugging you
- Improve an existing product
- Find inspiration from history
- Come up with a list of truly awful product ideas, and then find a way to turn them into good ideas
With a sketch of a concept in mind, conduct extensive research, not just on your product’s specifications, but on the market in general, including:
- Current demand
- Products similar to your idea currently on the market
- Companies that develop similar products
- How your product will be different and better than existing products
Check the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and identify patents similar to your product concept.
3. Product design development
Once you’ve done your market research, it’s time to flesh out the product concept.
What to consider about your product’s design during development:
- Ability to withstand use
- The manufacturing process (and if it involves multiple stages)
- The cost-effectiveness of the production process, which directly affects the price
4. Final design research and development
Put the final touches on your product design, including material design and dimensions.
You should have a fairly detailed drawing of the final product to work off of.
5. 3D prototype
Create a computerized model of your final product. Aside from giving you the final look at your three-dimensional product, a model highlights areas of potential stress and strain on the product as well as general design faults.
Should you run into any problems, go back to the previous step to rework the design.
6. Physical prototype
Having a physical representation of your design is a must for:
- Testing and development
- Getting feedback from consumers
- Leveraging deals from potential investors and distributors
You can start with foam board and cardboard or use a 3D printer.
Be critical. You want your product to function exactly as you need. If any single part of your prototype doesn’t work properly, head back to the drawing board and redevelop your design.
When your product passes all your tests and you are happy with its function, you can proceed to manufacturing.
Cost of manufacturing depends on:
- Complexity of the product
- Multiple components to the product
- Low batch vs. high batch
Keep these factors in mind to determine a healthy profit for your end product. As a general rule of thumb, the manufacturing cost should be one-fifth of the retail price.
During assembly of your product, experts recommend having the minimum number of joints, which:
• Speeds up manufacturing
• Reduces manufacturing costs
• Reduces overall cost of your product
10. Testing and feedback
Have friends, family, and focus groups test your final product. Listen to their feedback and encourage them to be as critical as possible.
11. Product development (again)
If your test results showed that your product could still use some improvements, revisit your development and apply minor tweaks.
Positive feedback means you can skip this step entirely.
12. Final product
You now have a final product that functions exactly as you’ve specified, but that leads to the tough part…
How do you plan to sell your product? There are countless ways to market what you’ve created, and thanks to social media, reaching a broad audience is as easy as ever.
- Define the purpose of your product and how it fits into your customer’s life.
- Prove that your product works and does what you promised.
- When branding your product, find the perfect words to describe it. Remember that you have to build up consumer understanding from nothing.
- Connect with your customers to build your brand and improve your product.
Selling more means larger batches, which leads to reduced manufacturing costs and inevitably more profits.
You can sell your product through three basic sales channels:
- Directly to your customers through a website
- Retail stores, which then sell to the consumer
- Distributors, which sell to retail stores that sell to the consumer
Realistically, you will probably use a mix of all three.
The product is delivered to your customer’s doorstep.
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