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Merchandising your Shapeways Shop

Hi Shapies! Today, our brilliant Director of Marketing, Carine, shares her insight on merchandising. Know what to design and who to design it for can be a real challenge. Here's an overview of what merchandising really means. Seedling Design, featured below, does an outstanding job of merchandising their shop currently on Shapeways.

Four Things to Consider When Deciding What to Design

Designing for 3D printing is a whole new ballgame: it's much faster than traditional manufacturing, there's no inventory, no waste, and you can even tweak your products based on your customer's feedback. This means you can take risks, fail, and still win. It's a beautiful thing!

With the unique benefits of 3D printing in mind, what does this mean for product merchandising, or in other words, what products should you design, 3D print, and put in your Shapeways Shop? Ask yourself these questions and determine what products are right for you.

  1. Who are you designing for? Whether you're making a special gift for a loved one, or you want to design the next big hit, you always have to start with understanding your potential customers. Who are they? Where do they like to hang out in person? Online? What gets their heart fluttering and emotions stirred? What's on the top of their Christmas wishlist? 
  2. Do you know who your customers are? Figuring this out is sometimes easy - if you know your customer, just talk to them! If you think your customer is similar to you, ask yourself these questions, honestly. And ideally, you can get some data from Google Analytics or other tools to get some broad strokes of demographics and interests. 
  3. Is your product timely, relevant? Once you have an idea and have a better understanding of who might buy this product, start digging into whether it's the right time to bring this product to market. Think about seasonality - is it related to a holiday, season, warm or cold weather, vacations? Also consider relevance - depending on who your customer lives and what they're interested in, perhaps there's something super timely in the news or culture that you can tap into. Is there a viral video, a new Apple iPhone, or a big election coming up? You can even go down the rabbit hole of understanding trends and what's selling in bigger stores by researching trend reports and checking out your favorite stores. (Always stay original though!)
  4. It it useful? The next big question to ask is whether it's useful. Not to say that fun desk toys are not useful; they make us smile! But think hard about how this product fits into someone's life, what need you're solving, and whether it's emotional (making them smile) or functional (helping them make better coffee). This will not only impact the design you make, but how much you can charge, what materials you could use, and the balance between form and function.
  5. How does it fit into your brand or collection? Finally, if you're really trying to run a business, you'll likely have more than this one product in your Shop. Consider whether it makes sense to launch this product as part of a bigger collection, such as four custom ornament choices for the holiday season, or eight ring designs based on your favorite animals. Seeing products next to those with a similar purpose and aesthetic will help tell your story. That doesn't mean you won't have a one-hit wonder, but think about CD; most artists have a couple singles that play all the time on the radio, but they also have the album for their top fans to play on repeat.

So, what's your album called?

Here's Carine looking awesome and encouraging you to keep working hard on your shop:

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