What is time to market?
First, let's define the basics. Time to market is the length of time between the conception of a product or service and when it’s released to the market. Say a product is conceived in January and the product is released in October. That would give you a time to market of 10 months.
Companies that can shorten their time to market can gain a competitive advantage as innovative leaders.
Why is it important to reduce time to market?
For a long time, companies have emphasised innovation. The idea is to create new products and services that address customer needs. It also has the added advantage of getting you ahead of your competitors — forcing them to play catch-up to avoid losing customers.
As the importance of innovation has grown, so has the importance of reducing time to market. Reducing time to market is beneficial in several ways:
It gives companies a competitive advantage
There’s a lot to be said for being the first to do something. There’s a common saying in sports, ‘If you’re not first, you’re last’. This can also apply to the business world.
Being the first to introduce a product or service can automatically make your business the authority on it.
Think about Spotify. When you hear the phrase ‘streaming music’, the service that immediately comes to mind is Spotify. That’s because they did music streaming best, first. Even though there are plenty of competitors that came along later including Apple Music and Amazon Music, Spotify already had such a huge hold on the market that they remain the name in streaming services. Spotify launched in America in July 2011. Apple Music launched in June 2015. That's nearly a full 4 years being behind. And that type of delay has a real impact. In 2022, Spotify had 182 millions subscribers and Apple Music had ~80 millions, despite Apple's service being unfairly advantaged per Spotify.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the longer you spend researching and developing products or services, the more expensive the process becomes.
Say you find a way to reduce your time to market by one month. That’s one month of worker salaries you’re saving. Talk about a great way to boost your profit margins!
It improves customer satisfaction
The whole idea behind innovation is to solve real problems that customers face right now. With that in mind, it’s easy to see how reducing time to market can improve customer satisfaction.
By being first to market, you can start addressing customer needs before any other company. This gives you a strong advantage as, even if your product doesn't fully address the customer’s problems just yet, it’s still offering far more than your competitors’ products.
It increases revenue
Reducing your time to market can reduce your R&D costs and increase your revenue stream. The sooner you can release your product, the sooner you can start making a return on your investment. It’s just that simple.
It grows market share
If you can shrink your time to market while your competitors continue working at the same pace, you will be able to offer customers the best possible solution to their problems. This allows businesses to corner their market early on and increase their overall market share while their competitors try and play catchup.
Ways to reduce time to market
As important as it is to reduce your time to market, it’s easier said than done. There are no real tricks or a secret formula to help you achieve time to market reduction, but there are steps you can take to help speed things up.
Work towards an MVP (minimal viable product) model
The MVP approach is a framework used by product developers to reduce the time to market. The idea is to build a product that can provide sufficient customer value using the minimal features required to make the product work.
Developers will push the MVP to customers and collect user feedback from real-life usage. This research is then used to improve the released product via updates or new models that are released as time goes on.
You can often find examples of the MVP model in tech world. Companies will put out a beta version of a new service and then use user feedback to tweak and improve things for a final release. For example, Dropbox launched as a minimum viable product and used simple explainer videos to help customers and investors understand more about their service. This helped them gain an early foothold in the market and collect more information about what features users wanted to see in Dropbox.
One of the easiest ways to speed up the development process is to increase the number of resources you have on hand. Injecting additional funds, workers, and other capabilities will help speed up the entire project and dramatically reduce the time to market.
It’s important to note that this isn’t the best solution for everyone. It increases the risk of wasting resources and money. There is also a chance that increasing the number of people working on the project might actually slow things down.
Intensifying the resource commitment is risky, but it can be incredibly effective for reducing your time to market.
Not every feature you plan to include will be essential. There are bound to be some nice-to-have features that aren’t critical to your offering.
Try using a prioritisation framework to identify which features will offer value to the user and which are just fluff. Then cut the fluff. This will reduce your team’s workload while still providing plenty of value to the customer.
If you later learn that your customers are looking for some of the features you abandoned, you can always add them later. The important thing is getting your product or service to market first — then deal with the little details later.
How Limio can help you reduce time to market
We specialise in subscription commerce. We build software that helps businesses sell their subscription products with ease and speed.
Limio makes it easy to launch new pricing, promotions, experiences and more with a no-code subscription commerce platform that’s simple for anyone to use. We can help you dramatically reduce your time to market by up to 90% and get your new idea in front of subscribers in days, not months.