By Sarah Sewell
Product development almost seems like a dirty word to a handmade business. After all, we’re creatives and product development sounds so… business-y. As much as it doesn’t sound fun, it’s an important step that helps set your handmade shop up for success.
Why product development is important.
When you treat your online shop like a business and follow the steps to make products that consumers want, you’re setting your shop up for success. And it’s not just the sales or cha-chings as Flourish loving calls them, it’s about longevity.
How hard would it be to get up every day and work on a business that was struggling? Not very motivating. But a business that has a product that people want and you believe in? That’s a great feeling!
What does product development look like?
There are a few important steps to developing a product that’s worthy of your shop. First, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions:
- What is your passion? Most Etsy shops start with a vision of sharing what you love. So what are you passionate about? Chances are, there are other people out there that share your interests.
- Who are you serving? Finding your target market is an important step. And to get you pointed in the right direction, Etsy shoppers tend to be between 25-40 years old. They are going through major life events like weddings, having babies, and buying teacher gifts.
- What problem is your item solving? Consumers are shopping to find a solution to a problem. It may be that they need a gift for a special event, or they want a unique, personalized item for their new baby’s nursery. Consider why your customer needs your product.
I have an idea, now what?
Now that you’ve answered some important questions, let’s focus on research. The best tool to figure out what customers want is actually Etsy.
First, log out of your Etsy account and start searching keywords that apply to your product. Look at which items come up on the first few pages. Do any of them have a ‘best seller’ tag? What colors/textures/prices do you see? Click on a few items that rank higher and look at what their sales look like. What are the customer reviews saying?
How to stand out in Etsy searches
After researching similar products, think about your idea and how you can elevate it so that it stands out in the searches.
- Excellent photography is huge. Clean images that convince the buyer to click get potential shoppers “in the door” so to speak.
- Product descriptions that impress. Take the time to write copy that tells shoppers why your product answers all their problems. Describe what to expect after the sale and when they receive the item.
- Be realistic. If your product is successful or goes viral, can you produce your item quickly and keep the same high quality? And can you get your hands on the supplies to fill orders in a timely manner? If the answer to any of these questions is no, problem-solve those obstacles before you’re in a sticky situation.
Test your product in your shop.
Before you invest a lot of time and money into your new product, list it. In fact, list two. Do a little A/B product testing to see what customers like. Test two different product photos, different pricing, whatever you’re trying to figure out- make two listings and compare the stats after a few weeks. Then tweak and list more items. It’s a process.
A few things to remember.
Etsy is a commerce platform, but it also functions as a search engine. Each listing is a separate thing. You can have 2-3 really great items that are listed with 10 different target customers or occasions and be successful.
Don’t rush into listing 100 different items to try and fill your shop. Take your time and focus on one thing at a time. Your shop, and sanity, will thank you for it!
Enjoying this content? Come join Artisan Indie’s e-commerce group, Flourish, to learn and get support for your craft business. We’d love to have you!