Product Discovery – What Does It Mean?

posted in: Business Strategy | 0

Product discovery is the process of finding the right product. That’s the general idea. A product may not exist yet, but the designer is looking for clues from the market, discovering anything there is to know about such a future product, so the actual product will be a big hit. For customers product discovery is just fancy language for “shopping”. Simply put “product discovery” and “shopping” are the same thing for consumers.

Why is this relevant? It’s not relevant for consumers. For businesses, however, creating new products it’s very relevant. Here is why: crowded markets with many capable product manufacturers require product differentiation. This is the key. How does one go about creating unique products? Who knows. This is why product discovery is increasingly relevant in competitive markets.

For engineering customers, product discovery is also relevant. This is what drives us at Encole to complete our website with the best product discovery process built in. I know, there is an engineer somewhere out there right now, trying to find the right component for his/her assignment. A technical buyer who is relentlessly typing keywords into search engines trying to find the specified product. This very minute countless attempts are taking place around the world. We’ve been there. We believe we have a solution to help the engineers and technical buyers design a better world. Product discovery is very relevant.

Typical industrial products are not sold based on brand power. Technical buyers research them before making a purchasing decision. We at Encole have a version of one such product discovery platform, with a simple catalog structure. Like I said, it’s one possible implementation of product discovery for industrial components, there are many ways to do that. The future of industrial product sales is universally recognized as one with everything going into digital domains, online catalogs, PDF datasheets, as fast as possible, in any way imaginable and displayed on a gizmo near you.

In a start-up company, very much like in a zen state, energy is a force we create ourselves, sales we generate as we become stronger. It’s a delicate time, no doubt. Balancing the development of all systems while nurturing a growing customer base. Here is the thing, though. These are shopping cart sales from what seems like a traditional online catalog. It’s March 2017, online shopping carts have became traditional, can we say that? Not much excitement about another online catalog company, unless we engineer product discovery into the catalog.

So, why so excited? Because there is a limitless and untapped supply of products to be discovered and properly cataloged, we are talking about industrial, well established products such as valves, pumps, and fittings. These products are the underlying infrastructure of any well-functioning machinery that makes city life, transportation, power-generation, food production, you name it, possible. Yet, these boring gold nuggets are left untouched by technological innovation taking place in hubs like Silicon Valley. The opportunity lies in plain view, where all one has to do is to create an intuitive discovery platform for these mature products.

Another exciting aspect of this opportunity is these products do not go obsolete relative to high technology. Therefore, whatever this catalog is, it will be a stable situation for a long time. As a point of reference for industrial components, American National Pipe Taper (NPT) Standard has its 131-year birthday this year and is unlikely to change over the next 200. Composite materials, 3D printing and smart automation will not change the basic principal of a pump or a valve. So, we are covered against obsolescence, another reason for excitement.

We have our work cut out for us adding more and more products to the catalog. Practically everything that is plumbed, pressurized, inspects or measures levels, temperature, pressure, vibrations and velocities needs to be discoverable in a better way than simply a dead-end datasheet in a PDF file living somewhere on a manufacturer’s website.

The engineering community is ready for a change in how industrial products are found, researched and presented.

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