Written by Kathy Phillips
When you read my explanation below, I have applied the word “development” to pertain to PBK, but when you read it a second time, apply the word “selection” to replace “development” and see how well these thoughts apply to your Product Selection Process.
I lead the product development team at PBK. Our design office is appropriately titled “The Idea Factory”. My office is located in the Idea Factory, removed from our main distribution center. This enables me to focus on product development. Starting with what every business needs, a long-range plan or vision, a business strategy. The product development decisions that we make at PBK must match the needs and preferences of the customer group targeted by PBK’s strategy. Otherwise, we will lose our established customer base and erode our market position. When I think about my past successes and fails, I can see how I waived too far away from my target. Can you think of a buying choice that you have made for your store that was not a good fit for your plan?
The vision is the first step of many. Product development must include considerations such as product quality, product cost, and customer satisfaction. There are many things considered when developing a product to be certain that it can be manufactured efficiently. These include the materials used, the efficiency of size, the equipment and labor skills required that could affect competitive pricing, not to mention the product must actually fill a void in the marketplace that also aligns with your plan.
Our Product Development looks like this:
- Step 1 – Idea Development
All product designs begin with an idea. Someone thinks of a need and a product design that would satisfy it.
- Step 2 – Product Screening
Once an idea is developed, it needs to be evaluated. PBK comes up with numerous product ideas. We need to screen our ideas and decide which have the greatest chance of succeeding. These decisions must refer back to our core vision.
- Step 3 – Preliminary Design and Testing
We begin to sketch and outline the design direction and the prototype is made. Often only a sample item or two will be prototyped from a collection. We challenge the quality and marketable price for our creation. This often involves reaching out to our customers for their input on marketability and the goal price.
- Step 4 – Final Design
We finalize and prototype the entire collection. We then launch the product with a marketing plan to support the new collection.
Do you follow any similar pattern in your buying decisions? Do you think about an Idea for a product need in your store and then go on a search for it in the industry? Do you do some preliminary buying to test the price point and the acceptance in your store before you fully roll out a collection?
I have a great passion for product development. There is nothing more exciting that receiving the new prototypes that you know are SPOT ON and will be a grand success for the new year. We work hard to follow these guidelines and stick with our plan. We all have won some and lost some as we make those development decisions. Experience is priceless and as my QUOTE for this month reads “intuition will never lead you to harm”…. when I am feeling uneasy about something, I always rely on my gut feeling to make the final decision!
Best of everything to you,