It makes sense to test your product with consumers before you go all-out with a product launch. In-home usage testing (IHUT) gives people the opportunity to test a product in the comfort of their own home—an authentic environment—and provides companies with valuable “real life” feedback.
Participants are typically asked a series of questions once the test period is up (either through an online survey, mobile study, or phone call). This can give marketers insight on how a product is perceived and used. We highlight tips to make your next market research product go off without a hitch.
While our tips are geared toward those in the consumer insights and market research space, these concepts apply to anyone who has fulfillment needs or manages fulfillment projects.
1. Give Accurate Project Specs
Giving your fulfillment vendor as accurate project specs as possible during the quoting and project kick-off phases will save you time and budget surprises down the road. Be as detailed as you can about all project components.
It is especially important that you provide accurate information about the dimensions of the product that is being sent for in-home usage testing. Product dimensions will affect packaging, how it’s handled and shipping costs (thanks to dimensional weight shipping rates).
Other project specs to include are quantity; desired delivery or in-home date; how you want the product shipped; number of codes being used; number of inserts to be included (plus number of insert versions and whether they will contain variable information that requires matching); and whether package tracking is required.
2. Allow for Contingencies in Your Project Timeline
Working with an experienced fulfillment partner you trust and giving accurate, complete project information upfront will go a long way to ensure the successful implementation of your next in-home user test.
However, sometimes there are delays that are out of your control. Add a day or two to your project timeline in case there is a delay in recruiting survey participants, product production is behind schedule, or to allow time for participant data hygiene that may be needed.
3. Work with a Fulfillment Partner with Data Capabilities
Gathering data and insights is the reason for your in-home usage test, so it is in your best interest to work with a fulfillment partner who can manipulate and maintain the integrity of your participant data on the front end. Look for a partner who can perform data hygiene, segmentation and can assign codes and other variable information as needed.
4. Give Advance Notice, When Possible
This is a pretty obvious tip because last-minute notice does not go hand-in-hand with quality control and accuracy. Giving as much notice as possible is especially important if the product you’re shipping for your IHUT is perishable and requires refrigeration or freezer storage.
You’ll want to make sure your fulfillment partner has the temperature-controlled space available to store your product. Also, the materials required to ship perishable products can take longer to source than what’s needed for a regular shelf-stable fulfillment project.
5. Keep in Mind Special Considerations When Shipping Perishable Products
Besides finding a fulfillment partner who has cold storage capabilities and experience shipping perishable products, there are other special considerations to keep in mind that will affect your budget and project timeline. Perishable food should be shipped overnight to maintain quality, which will add to your shipping costs.
Also adding to your shipping costs is the oversize box that will be needed to accommodate dry ice or gel packs to keep your product cold. The larger box will add, on average, 9-12 pounds of dimensional weight- which will also increase your shipping costs (and budget).
6. Allow Enough Product Space for Coding
One IHUT project component that is often overlooked is allowing enough space for coding on the product being tested. Whether you are doing the coding or having your fulfillment partner do it for you, it is important that the coding is immediately visible on the test product. This enables you to ensure that you are getting accurate survey results and is also necessary from a quality control standpoint, especially if your test has multiple versions.
Editor’s note: This blog post was originally published in January 2016 and has been updated with additional information.