Shopify presents

"I Have a Business Idea!"

Investigate your market

Do some detective work!

Check out who’s already selling what you are thinking! Ask yourself these questions: Does your product create a completely new market? Is your product a variation on an existing product? Who are your competitors? What’s your market space? Does your product have an existing niche to market to?

Spend some time googling your product idea to see if someone else is already doing the same thing. Entrepreneur magazine has some in depth pointers on conducting market research.

Test out your market

How big is the opportunity here?

You don’t want to be launching a new business venture into a market that isn't willing to buy. If your product already exists, are people searching for your product on the web? Investigate using free tools like Google Keyword Tool and Google Trends. Try searching for keywords related to your product, is there search traffic? Is your niche a rising trend in Google Trends?

If you are willing to spend some money to test your concept a bit further, you can try experimenting with some test advertising using the Google Adwords network. If your product has an existing market, advertise on keywords related to the industry. If your product is completely new, it might be better to test by using display ads on sites whose users may be interested in your product.

Prototype your product

Make your idea a reality by building a first prototype.

If you are creating a physical object you’ll want to look into rapid prototyping options from cnc machining or 3D prototyping shops. 100k Garages is a great resource to find fabricators who can help with prototyping. If you are creating clothing, get in touch with a pattern maker who can bring a concept to fruition. Pattern makers will also often be able to set you up with a cut and sew shop. If you interested in learning more about how much this may all cost, fashion incubator has a good blog article on what it might cost to prototype a bag or clothing line. Entrepreneur magazine also has a great resource to help out with creating a product prototype.

Make your mark

Make it official with a name and a website.

Apart from giving your business a catchy name, you’ll want to keep in mind the availability of your brand’s URL. If your new brand is not available as a URL, that could seriously affect your brand visibility on the web. If you are planning on becoming a reseller of products, search around for domain names that include popular industry keywords - for SEO awesomeness!! You’ll also want to ensure that your brand isn’t already taken since this may cause some serious legal headaches down the road. Make sure to do some research at your local patent office: USA, Canada, UK, Australia.

Next you’ll need to develop a look and feel for your ecommerce website. You will definitely want to a professionally designed logo and online store. These elements are the face of your online business, and allow your customers to trust that you are legitimate. This is dead simple using Shopify. You can take advantage of our Theme Store to find a professionally designed template that’s ready to live right now. Or you have the option to search through our Experts database of ecommerce designers and developers.

Manufacture your product

Now it's time to start building your products.

Even if the first few products you plan to sell are created by hand, it’s important to have a plan in place to scale manufacturing. You don’t want to be holding onto too much inventory, particularly at the start, without having proven your market’s willingness to buy. On the other hand you also don’t want to be stuck without any product to sell should demand soar.

You have a couple options in terms of manufacturing. You can support your local economy by hiring local talent to build your product, or you can look for a manufacturing partner to help you out. If you are located in North America, a fantastic resource to help you connect with people in the manufacturing industry is Job Shop. If you’re looking to cut costs by contracting out your manufacturing internationally, you’ll want to make use of services like Alibaba to find foreign manufacturing partners.

Don't forget to set up your shipping options

Plan how you're going to get your products to your customers.

Take careful consideration with how you’re going to ship your products. The form factor and weight of your product can have a huge effect on your shipping costs. Get your product into the smallest package possible. You can get some product packaging ideas from ClearBags and cost out shipping boxes and packing supplies from Uline. Also keep in mind the implications of shipping internationally. Things like duties, taxes and the extra shipping cost can have a large impact on the international viability of your product.

Shopify provides carrier calculated shipping integrations with all the major North American shipping companies allowing your customers to get an accurate shipping estimation based on their order.

Plan your launch!

Have a go-to-market strategy to get your product off the ground.

It’s important to have a launch plan in place so that you have an initial burst of promotion to help get you those first few sales that are so vital to every business. If your product will take some time and considerable resources to manufacture, you may want to consider launching on a crowdsourced funding platform like Kickstarter.

In order to build some initial buzz for your product, you’ll want to plan some promotions. Whether its launching at a key industry event, giving your product away for free to celebrities or key influencers, or simply having a press release ready for launch, you’ll need to be prepared.

Have a marketing plan

How are you going to market and sell your product?

What are the marketing elements that you will need to sell your product. Have you thought about your site’s SEO? If you are going to be doing any paid advertising you should figure out a budget and expected return for online and offline marketing. If have any media contacts, local or national, will you be able to leverage them to get some publicity? Social media can work wonders to build some excitement around your products, but you will have to invest time in order to get great results. You’ll also want to ensure that you are measuring everything about your site so that you can optimize and improve upon what’s working. Free analytics tools like Google Analytics can give you amazing insight into your customers and your marketing efforts. Shopify has several built in features that make marketing your online store easy.

...and finally, launch your product with Shopify!

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