EARLY-STAGE PRODUCT CHALLENGES
Building a new product can be exciting and energizing, but it ain't all sunshine and rainbows.
Littered through the many highs of creating something BRAND NEW are periods of second-guessing yourself, questioning your judgement, and massive, sometimes inexplicable overwhelm.
Right now I’m creating a tool to help 7-figure Food & Beverage brands on Shopify increase their repeat purchase rate.
Paying customers - Check.
Desirable product outcomes - Check.
Helping our customers make more money faster – Check.
I mean, what business wouldn’t want better ways to improve conversion rate and increase repeat purchases?
BUT that hasn’t made the process of ideal customer validation or refining our solution any less of a challenge…
THE IMPORTANCE OF IDENTIFYING YOUR IDEAL CUSTOMER
Avoiding the trap of assuming everyone who shows an interest is your target audience, is tricky – but doable.
When I co-founded CartHook, its Shopify Checkout app had a lot of early signups. Great news, right?
Many of those signups were aspirational entrepreneurs - people trying to build an ecommerce business without having found a marketable product and/or a reliable distribution channel. They were simply looking for a quick fix for a flawed concept.
So immersed in the throes of their new idea, many of those in the first wave of signups didn’t even realize they didn’t have a viable product. This meant they hadn’t grasped the disconnect between their stage of the ecomm journey and where CartHook came in.
CREATING A ROBUST SCREENING PROCESS…
To screen for our ideal CartHook customer, we changed the signup process. The new process required interested individuals to request a demo first. This strategy was a game-changer in helping us filter out customers who weren’t a fit for our service.
With 1-Click Pony, I’ve come fully armed with what I learned and am doing the same thing.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun to see brands excited about what The Pony can do. But experience has taught me that a single product offering isn’t meant to tick everyone’s boxes, all of the time.
CONFLICTING CUSTOMER SEGMENTS
Securing dream customers, in this case merchants who make $2 million+ in revenue per year, in an early-stage product business is the dream... But even then, there are roadblocks to avoid along the way.
We have some great customers, but they are in different markets. Sharing similar, but not identical, needs and desires, one of our earliest sign-ups is in fashion retail and another sells food & beverage products and subscriptions.
When you’re working with multiple customer segments, reconciling feedback can be a recipe for insanity. It’s impossible to please everyone - so where do you draw the line?
Finding the answer to this is still very much a work in progress, with continuing to please the customers we already have our way forward right now. Figuring out the best niche to target and how to serve that niche in a way that is market leading a big focus.
If you’re savvy when launching your business, the questions that keep you up at night are not just the ones about which customers you should be aiming to serve, but what the right product to do that actually is?
For instance, we’re in the process of considering something crazy that flips our namesake upside down - what if 1-Click Pony actually becomes a 3-step buy button?
While the 1-click in theory is a beautiful idea about the most frictionless purchase experience imaginable, many online shoppers still like choices when making a purchase.
Imagine that you open an email from a brand you buy from regularly. It asks if you want to purchase from a set of featured products and offers you have the opportunity to order seamlessly, in 1-click, directly from the email. Wonderful – right? We thought so too…
It turns out that isn’t as valuable as we first envisaged. In tests with one of our customers, we found that 60% of their email conversions were for a product not featured in the email. Instead, people used it as a shortcut to visit the brand’s website and find the product they actually wanted to buy.
The 1-click buy button concept was meant to facilitate purchases within email - so in this case, it wasn’t helpful. It was driving business back to the brand’s website instead.
Our current development revolves around designing a unique 3-click checkout experience.
This time around, clicking the buy button in an email brings you to a newly designed landing page. At the top of the landing page is the product you clicked on in the email, pre-selected for purchase. Additionally, we now also list the brand’s top 10 best-selling products.
Consumer behavior has shown us that more steps during the purchase process can actually provide a sense of personalization, resulting in greater interest and increased purchases. Offering choice keeps the power with the consumer which they clearly like.
This story is a classic reminder that sometimes your ingenious product design needs to change in practice. It’s about being obsessed with solving your customer’s problem and not with forcing them to adopt your solution.
IDENTIFYING AND ALLAYING CLIENT FEARS
Always learning, we haven’t just looked at e-commerce customers, we’ve been watching the e-commerce business owners too…
We quickly realized that dramatic changes in consumer behavior can be nerve-wracking for even the most established businesses and that while change for the better is often welcomed, the changes themselves are also quietly feared by many.
What if this fancy new feature modifies customer behavior too much? What if innovations in click-to-purchase technology mean that customers start to click fewer or different buttons than you want? Allaying those fears has always been a priority for us.
Despite the unknowns, circular thinking, and competing priorities, building a business has a certain thrill that cannot be replicated anywhere else.
For other entrepreneurs working through this stage of growth, I’d encourage you to:
- Screen for your best fit customers
- If in doubt, work to please the customers you have
- Take the time to listen and perfect
- Pivot your entire service if you need to
- Think about your service from different perspectives (consumer/client)
- Avoid decision paralysis at all costs
Seeking out consumer data and searching for alternatives is a great thing, as long as progress remains your focus.
If you run a 7- or 8-figure Food & Beverage brand on Shopify that does email marketing, I invite you to visit 1-Click Pony to see if we're a fit.