Since the beginning of the year I was working on my first physical product that I designed from scratch.
I had the idea of redefining vietnamese coffee for the western world when I was traveling in Malaysia and the thought of creating a physical product got me very excited.
Without even knowing what I was really getting into, I started to make small baby steps, from the first drawing to prototyping to talking to manufacturers and making the product real.
The pain with physical products
The whole process so far took me almost a year and I can tell you one thing: it’s a pain in the butt!
Especially if you have a full time job.
Sometimes I wonder if it’s still worth pursuing physical products in a digital era because physical products just have so many disadvantages compared to digital:
- Time: physical products take a lot of time from the first sketch to a ready to sell product
- Cash: you need a lot of cash to invest if you want to create your own product
- you need to worry about packaging
- you need to worry about quality control
- you need to worry about logistics
- physical products need to be stored somewhere
- physical products cannot be distributed instantly and everywhere
- you need to handle shipping to the customer
- you need to handle products that come back
- you need to reproduce when you run out of stock
And there are so many other things you need to think about which makes me wonder, why the hell should someone who wants to get started still invest time and money in creating physical products?
Physical will always outplay digital
But then when I do research and look at successful people and businesses nowadays I still see that physical products are still a viable business and can make a good living if done correctly. Especially if you have powerhouses like amazon and alibaba that helps you to source products easily and handle many of the logistics for you.
Many digital nomads, such as johnnyfd started with dropshipping and reselling other peoples products. Others are buying from wholesalers and let systems like Amazon FBA handle the rest (Riley). And many are making millions with it: Ellen
Even though we live in the digital era where apps and fancy silicon valley startups seem very exciting, try still to consider physical products for the following reasons:
- physical products will never go away
- the perceived value of physical products is higher because people can see what they buy compared to digital products
- people just love to touch, feel and look at beautiful products that cannot be replaced by digital
- reselling products doesn’t require loads of skills
- reselling products doesn’t require long development time
- reselling products doesn’t require investment capital for development
- physical products don’t need frequent maintenance and updates like software
- systems like amazon fba can handle logistics and customer service for you
With that being said, I still believe selling physical products is a good and viable business and a good way to get started. Especially if you come from the digital world and have no experience in industrial design to create and manufacture your own product.