Friday, November 30, 2012

How Much Design Is Enough?

Dear John.

As an importer/exporter. How many times have you redesign your products (on average) before selling it successfully?

For instance... How many times did you redesign your glass candles before start importing them successfully to the USA?

a Critical point, this...

Look at the first Apple Computer.  Would you call that ready for the market?

Look at the present one.

What happened?

The strategy is to design your product just well enough, no better, than is required to get enough orders from customers to cover the suppliers minimum production requirement, in a workable amount of time, profitably.

If you design beyond that, you deny yourself an iteration of your item in the market, an exposure that will give you massive amounts of feedback as to what will make the next iteration sell even better.

If you design beyond that, you may be paying for features and benefits to be designed in the product  that the market would tell you are not necessary.

"Enough orders" may be from one customer, or 500 customers, to cover the supplier's minimum requirement.  Getting there is a matter of working on samples until your item is good enough to achieve enough orders from customers to cover the suppliers minimum production requirement, in a workable amount of time, profitably.

Workable amount of time gets to the question of "how much times does it take to gather orders and make the goods, and ship them to customers, in regards to how long customers will wait?"  But keep in mind, people pre-order books not yet released on, and the world is still waiting for a version of Microsoft Windows that is not a net deficit.  You probably underestimate buyers willingness to await new.  In any event, the sourcing and marketing process includes determines timeframes and testing viability thereof with all parties concerned.

Profitably refers to each and every transaction, including the first.  The transaction must be profitable so every subsequent one is profitable.  Now, all of the time, talent and treasure devoted to getting to enough orders from customers to cover the suppliers minimum production requirement, in a workable amount of time, profitably, is sunk cost.  But you are in control of this, it is your education, it is a write-off, and it is what you invest in yourself.  But note, it is not a lot of cost, anymore than that first Apple above represents much in the way of time, talent and treasure.  (The logo was oxy-torched on a piece of metal!)

So you redesign to some extent every shipment.  If not redesigning the actual item, you are coming up with allied products (hats to go with sweaters) or redesigning something in logistics.

And whatever your suppliers minimum is, you never look to economies of scale, you always reorder the minimums.  This may mean at some point you have one shipment in your warehouse, one on a truck heading from the docks, one on the docks, one on an inbound ship, one on the docks overseas, another in the factory ready to ship, one being produced in the factory, and another on order.

But but but, what about volume discounts and the savings?  Great for big business, a disaster a small business.  Email me for a .pdf of a tutorial on that.  In essence, you lose too much in risk-management saving a few bucks on freight.

What you will do, is as you add other items, is also ship those in the same containers, so eventually one container has goods from several suppliers, and you pick up some efficiencies there.

So to answer your question, design is a continuous process.

Feel free to forward this by email to three of your friends.


Anonymous said...

The first Apple computer model sold was not even a complete computer. From Wikipedia:

"The Apples sold as a motherboard (with CPU, RAM, and basic textual-video chips), which is less than what is today considered a complete personal computer."