Step 1. Find a problem that you can solve that none of your competitors are solving.If you sell a product that is no different than what your competitors sell, then you will not last long online. You leave yourself open to missing out on sales because of price wars and reviews. Instead, you must make your product different. In other words, you must differentiate your product. When you are first starting out as an online seller, I recommend that you differentiate by improving upon an existing product. (When you have more business experience and are ready to take on more risk, you can create revolutionary novel products.) For example, you can build a better computer mouse. In this case, you are not re-inventing the computer mouse; you are improving an existing product. Let’s say that you want to sell a wireless, rechargeable computer mouse on Amazon to compete with Apple’s Magic Mouse 2. You can solve a problem (users can’t charge and use the mouse at the same time) with a simple modification: put the charging port at the head or rear of the mouse rather than the underside. If your mouse is the only wireless, rechargeable mouse on Amazon, then shoppers now have a reason to buy your mouse whether you have reviews or not. They might even be willing to pay more for your product over the competition. However, if there are other products already listed on Amazon that solve that problem, then your product would not be any different, and you run the risk of losing sales due to price and reviews. Keep in mind that your product can be differentiated not just in functionality but also in the look of the product. Let me show you three places to find problems that you can solve: 1. Product reviews on Amazon Find out what buyers are saying about your competitors. If reviewers all complain about the same problem across your competitors, then you have found a huge opportunity. For example, let’s say you are interested in selling golf bags and your competitors all have reviews saying, “There is no dedicated place to put a water bottle.” You can fix this. Once your improved golf bag is on Amazon, golfers may realize that your bag is the only product that solves this problem, and they may choose your product over the competition. 2. Niche product websites You can find products across the internet that are not on Amazon yet. Many of these products solve a problem that products on Amazon have not solved. If you bring such a product design from another website to Amazon, then you can dominate that Amazon market niche. For example, let’s say you search Etsy for golf bags and you come across a stylish vintage golf bag. Even though this product is actively for sale on Etsy, you can sell it and be differentiated from other golf bags on Amazon. 3. Online interest groups The most passionate shoppers and hobbyists will freely tell you precisely what problems they want solved. For example, a golfer community might say, “Why are all of the golf bags for women pink? I want a blue one.” Check out Facebook groups and forums like Reddit for a ton of opinions on products. These enthusiasts will understand the problem and give their unfiltered thoughts.
Step 2. Understand the problem on an intimate level.You need to understand the problem as if you are the customer. In order to do this, you have to buy products from your top competitors and observe what they did right and what can be improved. Get inside the mind of your target customer and see a product from their perspective. You may think that a 4″x 9″ polyester water bottle compartment will solve the “no water bottle holder” problem. But is that compartment big enough? How much water does a golfer drink on a hot day? Would a cold water bottle sweat through a polyester compartment? You won’t know unless you go through the buyer experience. Buy products that are as similar as possible to the product you want to develop and use them. Only once you understand the problem can you best solve the problem.
Step 3. Describe how your product will solve the problem.Write down exactly how you want your product to look, feel, and what materials it should be made from. Be as specific as possible. Draw it if you can. Stick figures are fine. You don’t have to be an artist. Just label each part of the product with its length, material, Pantone color, and any other details that matter. Visualize your product so that you can later communicate what you want to build to the company that will build your final product. If your differentiation is simple, like changing the color of a woman’s golf bag to blue, then a simple drawing is more than enough. It is much easier to solve a problem based on looks than on functionality. Many Just One Dime students have excelled just by changing a product’s color or packaging. If your differentiation is more complex than adding a water bottle compartment to a golf bag, you may consider using a 3D printer. You can also hand-build a prototype yourself using materials at Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts or Home Depot.
Step 4. Get a product designer to build you a preliminary prototype.You do not need to hire specialized design companies. Many of them are a waste of time because they specialize in marketing their services more than providing an excellent design. The easiest way to find a product designer is to find a manufacturer. Manufacturers usually have a product designer on staff. Search the product sourcing website Alibaba.com to find suppliers that sell a product similar to what you want to build. Pick a few suppliers and get them to send you a sample of their work. Most of the time, that supplier will be Chinese. Send your product designer your drawings, 3D model, or the sample that you’ve put together. Tell them exactly what you want. If your product is complex, then the product designer will likely craft a 3D computer model of your product idea. Look at their rendering and give them feedback. Go back and forth with the designer until you are 100% satisfied with the 3D render. Next, the manufacturer will create a sample prototype for you at a cost. They will likely create it out of plastic resin using a 3D printer. Pay full price for the prototype and prepare to negotiate for when you go into production. Once you are happy with your preliminary prototype, move forward with getting a final draft prototype.
Step 5. Have your supplier send you a final draft prototype of your exact product.When you go into full production, those mass-produced products should be nearly identical to the final prototype that you approve. If your product differentiation is complex, then you might require a mold. A mold is a casing that helps standardize and mass produce your product—kind of like a cookie-cutter or a Play-Doh mold. If your product requires a new mold (most don’t if your differentiation of an already existing product is minor), then you will need to pay for the mold. Some suppliers will spread out the cost of the mold over a number of units you pay for. For example, if your mold costs $2,000, then your supplier might add on $2 to the cost of each of your first 1,000 units. Have your Chinese suppliers sign an NNN agreement, not an NDA. NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) are for trade secrets, and they are not enforceable in China. NNN agreements are non-use, non-disclosure, and non-circumvention agreements that can be enforced in China. Within the private Just One Dime community there are multiple Amazon sellers who can refer you to Chinese lawyers who can help you with this. When you have an NNN, the manufacturer cannot use the mold to create a product for anyone else. The better differentiated your product is, the more difficult it will be for competitors to copy you.
Step 6. Negotiate with the supplier and go into production.Your manufacturer will give you an initial quotation. Always ask for a lower price twice. If you don’t ask for less at all, they won’t respect you. Chinese suppliers expect negotiation. But some suppliers may find you too pushy if you ask for a lower price more than three times. You should also make sure that your supplier will give you a discount if and when you order in larger quantities. For example, let’s say your supplier gives you a quote at $9.00 per unit when you order 400 units. Ask what discount you will receive if you order 500 units. You might get an answer like $8.90—a 10 cent discount. Realize that while a 10 cent discount on 500 units is only $50, it’s a $2,000 discount on an order of 20,000 units. It’s important to know that your supplier will charge you less per product if you order in greater quantities. Always negotiate using hypothetical quantities when you first deal with a supplier. This way, you negotiate for your future self.
Step 7. Build a brand experience.When shoppers buy from Amazon, they aren’t buying a thing so much as they are buying an experience. For example, customers know what to expect when they buy a pair of Nike shoes. Nike has a reputation for quality and an image that says, “Just do it.” Nike is the brand of action—of Michael Jordan—of dunking. Build a wonderful brand experience that leaves an impression on your buyers. Surpass your customers’ expectations to turn their experience into brand loyalty. When the buyer receives the product, your product should be so excellent that the buyer feels grateful to have purchased your product. When you put that sort of experience in the hands of buyers, your 5 star review count will grow exponentially. I will show you exactly how to do that and greatly expand on every lesson here in the Just One Dime Amazon FBA Mastery Membership. Find out more on jod.com/freedom. By: Seth Kniep
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