Mastering The Integrated Product Stack On Shopify

Veteran online sellers have found a tried and true product strategy for scaling a business to six and even seven figures - and Shopify is a great platform to implement this blueprint on. 

What's the product strategy? I call it Product Stacking, or the Integrated Product Stack. It's not complicated - and here is a chart that outlines the concept:

 

Product stacking is built on the idea that people want to 'go deeper' in connection to their area of interest - and if they trust you for one aspect of that journey, they'll likely trust you for the other aspects as well. Or, if they don't trust you, at least you're ideally positioned to make an offer to them associated with the other needs related to the topic. Since you've got their contact information and you know they purchased something in associated with that issue you are more ideally suited than anyone else to offer them a related product.

Step One - Initial Purchase

If you offer something - and someone buys it - it's a really really big deal. Never under-estimate the value or importance of getting a customer. If you've achieved this step, then you're well on your way to implementing the product stacking methodology. Value that customer. Thank them. Stay in communication with them. Let them know you're a real person trying your best to deliver an excellent experience for them.

What should you do at this step to set the stage for the implementation of the full product stack? Value that customer. Thank them. Stay in communication with them. Let them know you're a real person trying your best to deliver an excellent experience for them. 99% of companies that sell something to a customer NEVER follow up. They never express gratitude or passion for the topic. They are completely transactional. Customers don't want transactions, they want transformations.

Of course, your first item doesn't have to be a physical item. It can be a digital item or even a service. Depending on your business model - you might offer a free digital item as the first item. Then offer a physical item, service, or community product. But commonly, it'll be a physical item.  

Finally, your first item can be repurchased by the customer over and over dozens of times before you suggest the second product. Ideally, your product will be needed repeatedly by the customer. 

Step Two - The Educational Product

The second item in your Product Stack needs to meet a different need - an educational need. Getting and using education is a major factor in our lives. Education can be as simple as "Directions" on a package - or as complex as a full college program.

I'll go out on a limb and make this claim - if your product needs "directions" then you have the opportunity to create an educational product.

People aren't always in "learning mode" and honestly, some people go through their life trying to avoid "learning mode". But even these close minded people, have brief windows where they are open to learning something. Generally, that is when they are trying to solve a problem, use a new product, or master a new skill. In these brief windows of time - they are open to your learning product.

An educational product can be packaged in many different forms (I call them modalities). Some of them can be free, but the beauty of educational products is, if they are packaged correctly, people will pay for them. Free forms include:

  • Free ebooks
  • Podcasts
  • Blog posts
  • Videos

Paid modalities can include:

  • Paid ebooks
  • Paid how-to guides (such as step-by-step instructional guides)
  • Video courses

One amazing aspect of educational products is that you can offer them immediately after the purchase of the initial item - without seeming like a pushy salesman.

For example, if a customer buys a fancy pasta strainer from you, (I'm just making this example up), you can immediately offer them a cooking course called, "Making World Class Pasta". That won't feel out-of-left-field to the customer. And depending on your salesmanship, you might start converting 1 or 2 out of 100 or more.

Another amazing aspect of educational products is that you make them once and then they have what economists call near-zero-marginal cost. Meaning - it doesn't cost you any money to replicate them, store them, or ship them, they are digital items - so they are just waiting there - ready to go.

Step Three - The Community Product

The final phase of the Product Stack is offering the community building product. This is generally an expensive offer and includes travel, or at least participation, in a group event or activity. By community building I mean - a product that allows the customer to make personal connections and relationships with fellow enthusiasts. You offer them a chance to meet and bond with like-minded people.

In our Fancy Pasta Strainer example - if you have a customer that has purchased a Fancy Past Strainer from you - and a course called "Making World Class Pasta" then you know what the next logical step is - a trip to Italy with a group of fellow pasta enthusiasts to learn from a world-class Italian pasta maker.

Will customers take you up on this offer? Who knows! But if they liked your fancy pasta strainer - and they liked your Making World Class Pasta course - then it stands to reason that they will at least listen to your proposal related to going to Italy with a group and learning from a master. 

The Law Of Large Numbers

This product stacking approach is based on something called the law of large numbers. In simple terms...

If you have a large number of people purchase your fancy pasta strainer then...

Some of them are going to be interested in a course called, "Making World Class Pasta"

and if you have a large enough group of people take that course then...

Some of them are going to be interested in going to Italy to learn from a master. 

Conclusion

If you implement the Integrated Product Stack, or even begin to work with that goal in mind, you're going to have a huge leg up on the competition. You don't have to put these pieces together ahead of time of course. You can test and refine offers as you scale your business and discover the logical set of offers that will naturally go together in the mind of the customer. Product offers - educational offers - and community building offers.