When you get your first sample bag is an exciting day!
Up till this time maybe all you have had are drawings and dreams – but the day your first prototype arrives it’s a bit like your new “baby” has arrived! It’s so exciting.
Having put all the hard work into coming up with your product idea, doing the market research, finding a Designer like us – working with the designer and prototype maker on all the details from fabrics to colours, trims and branding details, will have taken up a lot of energy and some money – but when the first prototype arrives is when the key work of making your product perfect for launch starts.
Here are Design IQ we study the bag prototype carefully, take photos and check the main details before we send the sample, along with initial prices to you.
Now you have your sample – so how do you check your product – and how do you judge if it is going to be a commercial success?
We would suggest doing this in the following stages..
You open the carton and out comes your prototype – and for sure “first impressions” are going to be what really matters to start.
Write down your 1st impressions. Write down other people’s first impressions.
After you have formed your first impressions the serious work starts – and this is what we suggest you do..
Check the bag for the following categories of issues:
Aesthetics. Do you like the overall “look” of it?
Practicality: Does the bag carry everything you wanted it to carry – can you reach all the different pockets easily? Can you get things in and out easily?
Strength. Does it feel durable and does the fabric feel substantial enough?
Ergonomics. How does it feel to carry, and does it open and close easily?
And then really importantly…
Market purpose. Does it look like it will do what your promotional campaign is going to promise?
So, let’s start with the Aesthetics.
- Does it look good? Do some model photography to practice how to present the products.
- How does it look in a photo? Take photos of the bags on their own from every possible angle in good lighting conditions with a white background.
- Does it look like it does what you want it to do? For instance, if you wanted something urban and simple does it look like it belongs in an urban environment?
- Does it have the main aesthetic look you wanted (e.g., sleek and smart, elegant and fashionable, or purposeful and rugged for instance?)
- Are the trimmings (the metal and plastic parts) good looking, and feel strong?
Now how about the Practical stuff….
- How heavy is the bag? Is it too heavy?
- Does it have all the pockets and compartments you wanted?
- Does it look durable?
- Do the zips run smoothly?
- Is the stitching neat and tidy?
- Does it look like it might break? Pull at all the pockets and zips and see if they break.
- Does the bag carry the weight you want it to carry? (One trick we do is load the bag up with x kilogrammes of weights and drop the bag from a hight of say 1 metre with the handle attached to a fixed point. Does the handle break?!)
- Is it comfortable to wear when fully loaded with its intended contents?
- Are the handles the right size for your target customer? For instance, if it’s for women maybe the handle width should be narrower?
- Does it dig into your body in any places?
- Try the bag on while wearing both summer clothing and heavy winter clothing.
User needs Review.
- So, does the bag do all the things you want it to do?
- How do your customers feel about the price?
- Are there any glaring compromises between the final design and the promise of your promotional spiel?
- Is it easy to use?
- Are there any things you now think the product should include that you did not think of before?
Get market feedback.
- We recommend you assemble a variety of no less than six different people to review the samples.
- We would limit any group of people to no more than 3 people at a time, as inevitably there are always people who are dominant in any group and there is a natural inclination of groups to agree with each other, or at least ‘drown out’ the quieter people. ‘One on one’ is also good!
- …Prepare a list of up to 10 key questions in writing and make sure you write down the reviewer’s answers!
- Leave plenty of space (silence) for people to tell you things about how they feel about the bags. Do not be too prescriptive. They will likely refer to other bags they already have to explain things, so ask politely if you can take reference photos of these to help your own report later.
- Do not only ask friends for their opinions.
- Choose your potential reviewers of course by whether they might be future customers by income, gender, profession and education, and also how articulate they are – and don’t forget men buy for women and women buy for men – so if it’s a woman’s product include men in your research.
- Do you need an NDA to show the bag to people? This might limit the number of people who will help you. A simple letter asking them to keep what they see confidential might be sufficient?
- Decide if you want to pay for a reviewer’s time, or maybe you can just give “thank you” gifts afterwards. We do not recommend offering free bags – it could get very expensive.
- After you have done your presentations, study all the written notes, and consolidate the comments into core themes that you have learnt.
- Some of the comments will be of little value – but be prepared to change your product design if several people make useful suggestions. Your customers can be your best advocates for a perfect product and “criticism is good”.
Refine your product ready for market.
Up to now all your ideas have just been ideas – but now with the prototype in your hands you will have been able to confirm if your idea was as good as you hoped it was – and have a really good “feel” for the commercial potential you have.
A lot more lies ahead – from pricing and promotion to refining the product for production. We can help you by refining the product ready for production.
Improve the product.
- If your market research has produced some good ideas and concerns – go back to your designer and ask them to make changes to the design.
- List and number in writing all the changes you want to make. Be as detailed as you possibly can. Be prepared to pay for the amendments and new samples, this is going to take time.
- Are there options you want to check? Now is the time to make the Version A / B samples to make sure you are sure of the direction you are taking.
- Ask your supplier to make the revised samples. Be prepared to liaise closely with them to get all the details right.
- When the second prototypes arrive, you will be very close to ready to launch your business! Repeat all the tests with potential customers and make sure the product is perfect so you can progress to production.
- Order extra samples so you can give them to Press and influencers.
- Chose a target price and decide what profit margins you need to make so you can make the entire operation self-sustaining, and attractive to investors.
- Select the fabrics, trims and manufacture quantities so the finished product comes out ‘on target’.
- Include estimates in the final product costs for shipping, duty, tax, insurance, Quality Control, Sourcing management, cost of money and currency estimates. We can create a customised costing planner for you.
Here are just some of the things you will now be working on while the product is being refined.
- First samples are often made in easily available fabrics rather than the final fabric you want for production. So now is the time to decide if you want special fabrics and custom colours. You will have to pay for the minimum quantities required if you want fabrics that are not available from stock.
- Packaging and point of Sale materials. These must reflect your brand’s message down to the sue of materials and production source.
- Promotional copywriting. Develop the “voice” for your brand.
- Prices structures depending on sales channel.
- Shipping and Fulfilment costs.
- Digital promotional assets and channels.
- Influencers & Publications.
- Photography and videos.
- Finding the perfect model for your brand.
- Trading terms.
- Quality control essentials.
- Warehouse and distribution planning.
You start out with a product idea and a business concept – but it’s the detail that counts so Design IQ Offer a full “Start-up Cost Planner” that can help you plan your new business investment.
We hope this helps you with an overview of the journey from first prototype sample to getting ready to launch to market.
If you’d like to discuss asking Design IQ to develop your first designs and prototypes – give us a call. 01531640118 / firstname.lastname@example.org