Use this expert advice to plan your successful day-specific launch.
The stakes are high for any high-tech company when it comes to global product launches, whether you're rolling out a new smartphone, an innovative tablet or the latest wearable high-tech device. Success can mean positive publicity, consumer interest and explosive sales results. But one false move can drain away profit potential.
Planning a complex day-specific global product launch the right way makes all the difference.
Planning a complex day-specific global product launch the right way makes all the difference. Brandon Johnson, a UPS high-tech marketing manager, calls it "the four Cs of product launch planning: customer, collaboration, control tower and contingency planning."
Customer. Start by designing the ideal launch day experience for the customer and coordinating the plan internally among your marketing, operations, supply chain and finance people, Johnson says. "Are you trying to get long lines at a retail store or pushing online preorders? Are you imagining a lot of customers waiting at home for their packages?"
The best approach is to work back from that positive end-user customer experience, Johnson says. "Bring all the key stakeholders to the table and clearly communicate any limitations or possible hurdles to your plan."
Collaboration. You need tight collaboration with external partners as well. "Even the biggest companies need to rely on 3PLs [third-party logistics providers] and logistics partners during a product launch," Johnson says. You must clearly communicate your manufacturing timeline to all of your external partners so they are ready to go when the product comes off the assembly line.
"Whether you are talking about trucking companies or air freight forwarders, they've all got to be ready," Johnson says. "Every day they add to your timeline can add multiple days to your final distribution deadline."
Control Tower. UPS handles multiple product launches for some of the largest high-tech companies in the world, as well as smaller launches for startups or companies adding new lines of business. "We establish a virtual Control Tower to work with the customer and all the key vendors – anyone who is going to touch the product," Johnson says.
A dedicated project management team makes sure all those involved understand the timeline, where they fit and what the expectations are for them. There are a lot of moving parts because a global launch often involves airlines, trucking companies, 3PL providers, retailers and multiple distribution channels.
Contingency Planning. Even the most successful high-tech companies can face delays. A component supplier might miss a manufacturer's deadline. Or negotiations with a key retailer could hit a snag. "The whole point of a high-profile day-specific launch is positive publicity," Johnson says. "But if the customer can't get their product, all it takes is one negative tweet to go viral and it can wipe out all your hard work."
The solution: Build enough slack into your launch timeline so that you can still hit your distribution day if delays happen. "If you are planning a launch on Friday, plan to get product to your logistics providers at the beginning of that week," he says.
Another aspect of contingency planning is recommending UPS MyChoice® for online customers expecting home delivery. Customers will know when their package is on the way and can reschedule or reroute if needed. "Putting greater control in their hands helps ensure the positive customer experience you want them to have," Johnson says.
For more on UPS high-tech product launches, read Brandon Johnson's two-part feature story. Or download an infographic: The Journey Through the Logistics of a High-Tech Product Launch [PDF].
Learn more about UPS high-tech solutions.