In 2015, during my tenure at a large e-commerce company as a principal product manager, I found myself spearheading an ambitious project: expanding the company to more than 100 countries lacking a local e-commerce presence. The pressing question? “Which features do we incorporate into our new cross-border e-commerce product?”
Despite the vast resources poured into its development, the initial version—crafted over 14 months with input from more than 100 developers—didn't resonate with the global audience. The feedback was clear: Customers preferred shopping through the company's existing platforms with their extensive product range, rather than navigating a separate global platform. Within a month of its beta launch, the response was overwhelmingly negative. Shockingly, users abandoned the app within mere seconds of their first interaction. A staggering 98% drop-off rate within just two days seemed to suggest only the company's employees were hanging around to test the product.
Faced with this glaring setback, we had to make the daunting decision to scrap months of effort and re-strategize.
Rooted in the lean startup movement and the pirate metrics concept prevalent among startups, the lean pirate framework became our guiding beacon.
Lean Pirate Framework: Tailoring Features For New Products
The lean startup methodology emphasizes hypothesis validation before product development. The riskier the hypothesis, the more urgent its validation. While “pirate metrics”—with its catchy AARRR acronym (acquisition, activation, retention, referral, revenue)—defined which product features to focus on.
Merging these philosophies birthed our lean pirate framework. To implement this framework in your own company, it must be centered around:
-Singularity in focus: The first principle is that you need to identify the one killer feature in your product and get it right. Any additional features should not be developed unless they are required, as per the other principles in the framework.
-Immediate value delivery: Users must instantly perceive the product's value to prevent abandonment.
-Retention and stickiness: While retention emphasizes recurring user engagement, stickiness impedes users from migrating to competitors.
-Product-led growth: Both the lean startup principles and pirate metrics concept require that your product have functionality, which supports its growth. Now popularized as "product-led growth," ensure you have features that drive customers to increase purchases and invite more customers.
-Monetization strategy: It's pivotal to blueprint monetization pathways upfront. Rather than merely allowing transactions, the user's entire purchase journey needs meticulous planning. Armed with this funnel, introducing analytics can sharpen future conversion strategies.
The "lean pirate" framework isn't just a methodology; it's a mindset that refines product management for the modern era. Through this lens, businesses can craft experiences, not just products, and adapt to the nuanced needs of a global audience.
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