In the following sections I’m assuming you’ve got a physical product which has a software component which you’ll sell wholesale or direct to your customers.
For each of these categories there are now either free options, very accessible options or professional services available.
To engage with trade press is a long game which you can facilitate with a few assets. Always have a Dropbox folder any journalist can access with print resolution images (in context and with a white background) a Word document press release and a link to a web-friendly 3minute (max) video. You’ll want to keep a list of press contacts which you may want to send samples to for reviews. If you want to be written about for Christmas, you need to be ready by June with your assets as most magazines will take months to prepare the Christmas edition which comes out in late October-November.
If you’ve decided to sell ‘direct’ via your website, use a flexible e-commerce platform like Shopify where you can ‘plug-in’ different services such as fulfilment services. This means you won’t have to box the products and send them to your customers yourself but you’ll pay someone a few pounds to do it for you. All you have to do is to send them a bulk quantity and let the orders roll in. Building plug-ins for added functionality on top of Shopify is difficult so you may have to commission a friendly developer to do this, but initially this might not be a problem. Keep in mind that using Shopify involves a flat fee (I pay almost £60 a month) and then added fees on each sale, on top of whatever your payment provider charges you (2-3%). Everyone wants a piece of your sale sadly.
Be wary of ‘marketplaces’ for #IoT. They may not have the traffic you’re after and you’re essentially paying them a fee to distract your customers away from buying from you. If it’s John Lewis that’s one thing, but someone small and digital only will be a waste of time. You want to build your brand, not help them build theirs.
Tradeshows are a great way to raise awareness to a buyers community if you’re ready in terms of pricing. NY Now (formerly known as the New York Gift Fair) is probably your best bet if you’re trying to get American buyers interested. (NB: When I say buyers I mean the staff in charge of selecting products to be sold through shops or chains, not the end customers.) In the UK, consumer-facing shows can be a great way to build momentum around your product when you’re not quite ready for larger orders, but those shows do cost several thousand pounds even for the smallest space. Most shows however do have a bit of space for ‘emerging talent’ so try to haggle a little.
I hope the above is of use. In my next blogpost I’ll move on to the meeting of hardware and software. In the meantime join the Startupbootcamp IoT | Connected Devices Showcase in London on May 17th - www.sbciotlondonmay.eventbrite.co.uk.