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Navigating the Connected World: How to Put a Concept on Consumer Shelves

The demand for smart and Internet connected devices is booming at an exponential rate. By 2016, it is estimated that there will be more than 10 billion connected devices in the world, and this number is expected to reach 25 billion by 2020, Cisco predicted. Technology companies big and small are bringing connected devices to market. Gartner, meanwhile, has predicted that startups will influence half of all Internet of Things (IoT) solutions by 2017. There is no doubt a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs to see great success in this market.

While financing new products has been made significantly easier with the rise of crowdfunding platforms, there are far fewer resources when it comes to operationalizing these products. For that reason, many promising startups – even those with funding and consumer interest – fail at the execution phase. In order to live in a connected world, we should focus on the HOW behind great ideas. Done right, startups can find success, but it requires some patience and the right strategic partnerships to ensure the right positioning. Let's take a look at the phases of bringing a connected device to market.

Financing

Of course, the foundation of any successful business is having the financial means to bring an idea to life. The growth of certain crowdfunding platforms, such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, have provided opportunities for startups to sell their ideas directly to consumers and the public.

It is important to tell an engaging story about your product and brand to ensure a successful crowdfunding campaign. Creating advocates for your product early on helps to form a community. A truly successful crowdfunding campaign must prove that there is actual demand for the product in the marketplace.

You'll eventually need to decide if you want to keep your company a small, local business or if you want to evolve into a large company generating sustainable profit margins. If the latter is your ultimate goal, then venture capitalist funding may be right for you. However, this is a highly competitive market, with an average of 4,000 venture capitalist deals nationwide each year.

Product feasibility

The majority of startups are well versed in the technology of their product, but not in the logistics of getting their product made for the masses. The inability to choose the right contract manufacturer can prove to be a costly mistake. In addition to seeking funding support, it's important to research the feasibility for manufacturers to make your product.

A feasibility test is an important first step to analyze the reality of an idea before deciding to take a product to production and market. This type of study is usually conducted after producers have discussed a series of business ideas or scenarios, and it helps to frame and build out specific business scenarios that can be studied in more depth. Feasibility testing in a few different geographical regions for your target audience will help determine if your idea will produce profits, which will help to save time and money in the long-run.

If you choose to carry out production, there are vital questions that need to be addressed as soon as possible, that include:

  • Is sending manufacturing overseas really better than having your product made in America?
  • Do the suppliers offer liability insurance?
  • What will your total costs be?
  • What are the payment terms and are they negotiable?”

Before you go to mass production with your final product, you'll also want to do a few test runs. Ensuring all aspects of your company are like a well-oiled machine will be essential to early success. Does the final product meet quality and safety standards? Are there any major gaps in product production? Startups looking to put concepts on shelves should consider these questions, among others, before doing business. Heavy demand for your product is an aspirational goal, but also brings its own set of problems to solve. Ensuring that your manufacturing partners have the resources and flexibility to meet a rapid rise in demand is critical for capturing share of rapidly shifting markets.

Warehouse of the future & innovation

Embracing Big Data is another important aspect in successfully distributing your product. To help optimize your supply chain, it is essential to integrate flexibility in your warehouse. Data-driven intelligent systems help optimize supply chain tasks such as planning, procurement, supplier management and logistics. New technology also increases the visibility of your supply chain and reveals potential flaws in your supply chain process.

Setting up the infrastructure and establishing mobility in the warehouse is far simpler with today's technologies and growth in IoT. That means it's much more practical for startups to set up and take advantage of IoT devices for supply chain tasks such as planning, procurement, supplier management and logistics. With these advancements, it's also expected that the deployment of IoT technologies will help improve other aspects of business such as customer service, revenue growth, profitability, sustainability and security.

As the demand for smart and connected devices continues to grow at an exponential rate, technology companies big and small are emerging to bring connected devices to market. This makes the competition fierce and the market competitive. As a result, technology startups need to carefully consider all parts of the process – from crowdsourcing, manufacturing, distribution, and beyond – to ensure they can successfully put their concepts on shelves. 

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