Do You Have a “Sku”ed Perception of Success? by @hkterry1

by Heather K. Terry | Featured Contributor

In my experience, through discussions with a slew of startup entrepreneurs over the years, it seems to me that a lot of folks think they need multiple skus right out of the gate to prove themselves in the marketplace.

This is a completely absurd concept—for a startup to run out and develop a dozen or so items before they know whether anyone will buy them!

When my business partner and I started Nibmor, we launched with 3 flavors. After a year, we added our drinking chocolate, and, eventually, we added our Daily Dose of Dark product.

We didn’t add those two additional product lines, though, until we had customers begging for something new—until we had retailers asking us what else we could send them.

At Nibmor, we go through a lengthy process before we decide to add a new product to our line. We have to reach a certain threshold before we decide as a team that we’ve done well enough with the products we have to add another.

We know we need another product when a retailer asks for it. If we keep hearing from our retailers, asking us if we have anything new, then we add something to our line at that time. We never stop working on ideas, so we have something to roll out when asked, but nothing goes into production until we’re confident it’s wanted and that we can sell it.

By the time we add something new to our product line, our customers are excited. They’ll buy whatever it is! Nibmor has something new? I want that!

Sell your core line first. Working on new products ties up your money in inventory when you could be using that money to sell more of your core items until you’ve proven yourself in the marketplace.

We have plans to launch several new products, but guess what? We have 4000 retailers asking for them.

Offer your customers what you have, and leave them wanting more. As a product developer, you have to take a step back and say to yourself, “Ok, we have x number of products now—let’s sell those before we try to add more skus.”

So what if you have 33 skus? Nobody cares if they don’t know who you are!

Not to mention, retailers only have so much space.

If a retailer brings your product in, they might be able to find room for one sku or two skus, but certainly not 15. There is only so much space.

Make people fall in love with a handful of products (3-5 is a good place to start). Then, let them need something new. Keep it fresh and leave them wanting more.

It’s not worth it as a startup to go out and produce a ton of products all at once.

Product development isn’t about, “I love these, so I want to make more and bring them to people”; it’s about creating one thing consumers will buy and making them fall in love with that. And then, you simply listen until they tell you it’s time for something new.

At the end of the day, don’t let an abundance of skus skewer your chances for success by tying up all of your cash.


Heather K. TerryCelebrated health coach, cooking instructor, yogi, and writer, Heather K. Terry, is a true health aficionado. She is co-founder and COO of NibMor Chocolate, co-founder of the Gluten Free Sugar Cleanse, and a strong advocate of eating real, simply prepared, organic foods and avoiding genetically modified, highly-processed food-like objects. A graduate of The Institute for Integrative Nutrition and The French Culinary Institute of Manhattan, Heather’s passion for food and nutrition are palpable.

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