Product Development – Getting Ready to Ship

By Mike Anderson
Published on: May 5, 2017

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This is a multi-part series.

To Read Part 1 – Vaporware Wars – Go here.

To Read Part 2 – How Products are Chosen for Development – Go here.

To Read Part 3 – Product Development – Investigation – Go here.

To Read Part 4 – Product Design, Part 1 – Go here.

To Read Part 5 – Product Design, Part 2 – Go here.

To Read Part 6 – Safety Certifications – Go here.

To Read Part 7 – Product Transition to Manufacturing – Go here.

Packaging of our new product must be designed and there are many factors to consider.  Packaging design must be appropriate to the sales channel.  If sold in retail stores, the packaging must be eye-catching, and deliver the sales message to attract a customer’s interest.  It will also require a shipping carton to keep the “Beauty Box” nice and clean when it arrives at the store.  When sold through distribution into the custom channel, requirements are a little different.  The box must be labeled, but may not need as much information on the outside carton.

Minimum information that must be visible on the outside of the box varies by channel and market.  Today, UPC codes are mandatory for most retailers; many even require RFID labels for inventory tracking.  Many markets require RoHS and WEE labels on the cartons as mentioned in a previous article.  Packaging materials must be specified that meet the necessary requirements.  This is one reason you see less Styrofoam packaging material than before.

Is the product fragile?  Should it be kept upright?  These are also markings that must appear on the outside of the box – both the beauty box and the shipping carton.

The shipping carton must be drop tested.  The categories change by carton weight, but essentially, the package must withstand dropping from a height onto a hard surface sustaining minimal damage and no damage to the product within.  With amplifiers and other heavy products, this might require significant engineering of the shipping carton and the internal support structure.

How will the customer be educated on how to use the product?  An Installation Guide or Owner’s Manual must be created.  For a complicated product like a multi-room amplifier or control system, this could be a multi-month project on its own.   It’s critical that the manual be thorough and understandable by the target customer.  A poor job on this can destroy a customer’s experience with the product.

The sales staff must be taught how to sell the product – what are the salient features?  How does it compare to competitors?  What are the benefits?  Literature and other tools they will need must also be created:  Product information sheets, web site pages, demo kits, videos, etc. are all tools that the sales staff will need.

Tech support people must be trained on how to troubleshoot problems so that they are prepared to help customers.  The service department also needs training and a list of parts to keep on hand for servicing products.

As you can see, there is a long list of things that go into the product development that are not readily apparent.  They are, however, critical to the success of any product launch.  Next week, we’ll talk about beta testing and how you can help.

Mike Anderson

Mike Anderson

Mike is the CEO of AVidea Group, a firm that provides product development service for consumer technology companies. Previously, he was founder and president of TiO, and worked in the industry for notable manufacturers Russound, Niles Audio and JVC. He holds an MBA from Cal State.

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