So you've thought about what you want to make and who you're going to sell to. Now, how do you organize your products? Do you list every single component as a single product? Or do you package them in some way?
You can sell products individually, in bundles, as add ons, as configurable products, or even as monthly subscriptions. Each of these work under the right circumstances. If you package your products wisely you'll be able to upsell your customer without them even realizing you're doing it.
A Tale of Two Form Plugins
Let’s take a look at two different products in the WordPress space that are pretty similar in functionality but their packaging is totally different.
Both Gravity Forms and Ninja Forms (aff) allow you to create really pretty and highly functional forms for your WordPress site.
Gravity Forms has an all-in-one package where you pay one fee and you have access to everything. For a web developer who builds lots of sites this can be a big selling point because no matter how many sites you create a year you can set them all up with Gravity Forms for a fixed cost. And no matter what any one client may need Gravity Forms should be able to do it.
Ninja Forms on the other hand has a totally different business model. Their main product is free so you can try it out and see how everything works. The way they make money is by charging for the advanced functionality. Instead of charging for a big package they charge for each individual feature. That means that if you only need one or two features it's cheaper than Gravity Forms. On the other hand if you have multiple clients all with different needs you may end up spending more than the Gravity Forms.
Which pricing model is better? Neither. They’re both successful companies. Gravity Forms works very well for developers who know they’re going to get a lot out of the higher price. Ninja Forms is great because people don’t have to spend very much on a plugin if they only want to do one or two things. And it’s much easier for someone to pay $18 for a plugin instead of $39 if it’s the first premium plugin they’ve ever purchased.
This doesn’t of course just apply to software. It works for all types of products in all industries. The reason I bring this up is to show that the way you package your product can have a huge effect on the success of your business.
One of the simplest ways to package products is to put them in bundles. Having bundles tell users what to expect. If someone is new to something like rock climbing and they don’t see any bundles on your site how are they supposed to know which gear to buy? They'll have to leave your site to do some research and they may never come back. If you have a beginner bundle with some videos showing them how to use everything they may feel confident enough to buy the package. Bundles also provide a little security. Users feel like less can go wrong because they’re getting a whole bundle. They know they aren’t missing anything important.
Bundles are also a great way to get your users buying more at one time. You offer them a discount and they buy more from you today.
If you sell photographs or prints you may want to give people the option of buying frames for your photos. If you list the frames as separate products then users might miss them. You'd have to have a whole section of your site dedicated to frames when you really want to focus on the prints. In cases like this you may want to make one product an add on for another product. On the product page you can ask the user if they want to add a frame for a fixed cost. This way it’s easy for the user to purchase both at the same time.
Some products can be really complex and rather than listing a bazillion products you may want to offer a single customizable product. Rickshaw Bags offers a single Medium Messenger bag but within that product page they offer you three choices for colors and they automatically update the preview as you choose the different colors.
They're not only allowing you to customize the product but some of these customizations are also add ons which increase the price.
If you sell highly configurable products like computers where you can swap out different hardware components it's probably worth your time to make sure your e-commerce platform can handle that. Especially when certain components cost more.
I'm a huge fan of subscriptions. In the last couple of years subscription services have exploded all over the internet. In many cases the way you package the product is the selling point. If you can't beat a competing product maybe you can sell how easy it is to get your product. That's why services like the Dollar Shave Club have taken off. My pain point is that I forget to buy new blades and I have to shave with a dull razor. That sucks. Services like this ensure that I always have a sharp razor.
Subscriptions also work really well for products that people forget to buy. I always forget to buy a new tooth brush every 3 months so I signed up for Smiles for the People which does that for me.
Subscriptions are an awesome way to help your customers and they also help you by being able to better predict revenue. If you sell products which can sold over and over again I highly recommend you look into selling them via a Subscription.
Downsides of Bundles
I've talked a lot about the different ways to package your products and you may feel like you have to do that. But you don't have to and that may be the right choice for you. Going back to Gravity Forms and Ninja Forms if you have a super fan who loves everything you do the most he can spend with Gravity Forms is $199. That means that you have to have a ton of customers. If Ninja Forms has a super fan he could spend over $1,000.
To Package or Not to Package
In the end it's really up to you, your product, and your audience. There are no right answers. The packaging and your messaging around your products is incredibly important and it's worth thinking about before spinning up your e-commerce store.