In this post, Lauri, senior product manager at Printify, shares some insights on how success is measured at Printify, one of the fastest-growing print-on-demand marketplaces in the world.
You will learn tips and techniques that you can apply to your daily product management practices.
What do we do and why does it matter?
Our goal at Printify is to help merchants be successful in running their print-on-demand business. This translates into providing a self-service platform and a set of tools that enables our users to set up a store, design products, and publish listings on a sales channel. The rest is left to automation.
The better the automation, the less time needed to spend on order issues (delays in production, out-of-stock items, etc.). Thus, the key to success is to support merchants with self-service tools and proactive solutions so they can deal with any order issues that may arise. This allows for more time to focus on their business, design new products, and market their store. In a nutshell, our goal is to be invisible while helping people grow their businesses.
The product manager’s struggle
The product manager is often seen as the jack of all trades—it’s a constant fight of dividing time on research, product delivery, alignments, data mining, running team ceremonies, preparing for grooming, long and short term planning, writing analysis and defining OKRs… the list goes on.
In short, a product manager’s job is to understand the market, business domain, and the problems your existing and potential users face in order to be successful in running their business.
At Printify, we also believe a good product manager spends most of their time in discovery mode—learning new ways to streamline the company’s growth. This very often means exploring unmapped territories and adopting the user perspective to feel their experience firsthand.
Therefore, we use a variety of methodologies to understand and prioritise the problems of the print-on-demand market:
- Reviewing session recordings on FullStory
- Qualitative research and conducting user interviews
- Insights from merchant support and success teams
- Unmoderated testing and validating new solutions on Maze
- Analysing data from the data warehouse
- Reviewing competitors and other tools our users actually use
- Monitoring print-on-demand social media groups and interacting with the merchants
- And more…
Combining data from multiple sources gives us a snapshot of the prioritised problem space that we are constantly reviewing while planning and designing our OKRs and initiatives. We live in a world of constant change, and the product manager needs to be able to evolve and adapt quickly.
“The product manager’s job is to set, test, and validate hypotheses. It’s all about time to value!”
If you are a product manager, you should ask yourself every day: “what did you learn about the customer problems and the market?” and “what’s the emerging nuance that you didn’t know before?”.
Your number one job is to capture the problems on the market and know which are the most critical to solve now. In our case, this means focusing on tools that take away the pain of managing problematic and out-of-stock products. We have learned that our merchants will be most successful if our platform will help them to grow their business. This means we allow the merchants to spend their time on creative work and marketing their store while the Printify platform works out everything with their incoming orders behind the scenes. We seek for seamless order management experience that would not require any manual intervention.
Our goal is not to extend their session time or keep them super active on the platform. We are successful when the merchant sets up the integrations and there is minimal disruption and manual involvement in the production process. We bring the most value if we help the merchant to grow their business.
How does a product manager know if they’re doing a good job?
As a product manager, you will keep your eye on a ton of metrics. At Printify, we keep merchant satisfaction as a core metric for validating our success. It is all about their experience on the platform and their happiness when using it. Defining this will pave the road to the sustainability and growth of the platform. We collect the customer effort score (CES), ask our merchants to rate the core interactions on the platform, learn from the data, conduct interviews, and continue to improve the main flows.
Measuring scores like CES are important because they show you the trend on how the experience of something evolves. However, one thing to remember: a product manager needs to make bold bets to stay in front of the curve. It’s important not to stay stuck in the wheel of micro improvements.
Also, the job of a product team is to move the needle of these marketplace-related metrics to ensure we are building a sustainable business:
- The quality of (automatic) order and print provider matching and how we take advantage of the fast growing print provider network.
- The average GMV a merchant generates on Printify and how fast it grows month over month.
- How much time does a merchant need to spend on order related issues? How much time do they spend on creating and designing new products instead?
Our goal would be to minimise the time of solving orders with problematic and out of stock products and maximising their time on creative work and growing their business.
“The product manager’s goal is to fulfil the merchant’s needs while keeping an eagle eye on the core marketplace KPIs to ensure the growth of the business”.
Product manager’s checklist
We wanted this piece of reading to shed some light on how we see product management at Printify. Here is a practical checklist that any product manager can use.
Product management is hard—everybody knows it —but we think the keys to success are:
- Talk consistently to your users, even when you do not have a dedicated research project. Check in and ask how they are doing. Some of the users want to share all the time.
- Build a pool of friendly users who you can easily approach to ask for quick feedback.
- Talk consistently to other managers, key persons and other talent in your organisation. Be in the loop, share your learnings, and listen in to other meetings: it is a team effort to deliver beautiful end-to-end flows.
- Check your calendar and figure out how much time you actually need to spend on the discovery phase. Prioritise more time for discovery. Spend less time on Jira, writing tasks, and discussing details of a solution.
- Worry less about product execution and the delivery process—delegate this to your engineering team.
- Dogfood your own product. Make it a practice to use it regularly. Does it make you feel proud?
- Make sure you have the tooling and data in place to measure success. It is all about time to value and hypotheses validation.
- Keep your eye on the data and question the spikes in your platform usage. Build a real time dashboard that reflects your main business and merchant happiness KPIs.
- Be curious and question the current solution you have. If you would need to start from scratch—would you build it similarly? Very often it is a bold “no”.
- Think about outcomes. And rather merchant happiness than revenue and retention.
The product managers must look around and discover how to provide solutions for the unrealised needs. If you had a 0 backlog and no legacy to worry about—what would you build tomorrow then?
Focus on the problem space, help your users, treat them well, and success will find you.