Learning from Failure: My Insights on Overcoming Personal Bias in E-Commerce Product Development

Jan 10, 2024 | 0 comments

Here is one of my biggest mistakes when launching products with our home storage brand.

You might have experienced this too.

And that is letting personal bias go unchecked.

Let me explain…

Unpacking the Product Development Process

Ever launched a product?

Then you know the product development process is long and hard.

From early research to choosing a product, doing market research, costing it out, sourcing the factory, sampling, to landing, and launching it.

Depending on complexity, this process has taken us anywhere from 3 months to 3 years.

We’ve done a lot of product launches since 2016.

Many of them have gone well. Others, not so well.

When we unpack what can be improved one thing keeps standing out:

Our decision making.

Why You Don’t Want to be Overly Optimistic

You see, I have a habit of being positive-outcome minded.

My team does, too.

Sounds like a good thing, right?

But during the long, tiring product development process, getting too “pumped up” about a product can cause us to:

➡️ Overestimate what the customer is willing to pay.

➡️ Misunderstand how a customer perceives our product’s differentiation.

➡️ Underestimate our competition.

➡️ Ignore changing market and customer preference trends.

What Happens When You Get It Wrong

Once we get deep enough into the process it becomes easier in our echo chamber to rationalize away potential challenges and predict favourable outcomes.

Which is great when you get it right.

But when you don’t, this can lead to a chain of negative outcomes:

➡️ Designing features that aren’t really needed.

➡️ Launching a product that is not really sought after

And ultimately…

➡️ Needing to price higher than the market can handle to ensure profitability.

This last one merits pausing on.

The Effect of Higher Pricing

Without competitive pricing and enough *desirable* differentiation, metrics like CTR and CVR start to fall.

Advertising becomes more expensive.

Ranking slips.

The end result is normally low sales volume and low profitability.

Not exactly a winning combination.

So, What’s the Solution?

➡️ Systems

We have checklists and SOPs we follow.

With certain thresholds to hit before moving forward.

Our focus now?

A. Being conservative with our profit estimates.

B. Being disciplined to not stray from the process.

➡️ Customer Feedback Loops

We use ProductPinion A/B consumer polls early and often and also do prototype testing.  

Our focus now?

Varying our A/B poll testing types to try and fully understand how our prospective product stacks up vs. the competition.

➡️ External Feedback

I like to poll fellow e-com business owners from my mastermind groups. Or ask around our friend network.

More focus is needed on:

A. Paying for third party product audits for an even more impartial voice.

B. Growing our email list and asking for our subscribers’ feedback.

Nowadays, we purposely go slow when we need to go slow to ensure we get things right. 

How about you? How do you balance optimism with realism during your product development process?

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