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Think Like a Product Manager

Published on | Terry Schalow | News & Updates

I’m a product guy. Even though I started my running industry career as a sales rep, for me it was always about the product. I geeked out on it from the start. Not surprisingly, my footwear sales presentations more closely resembled tech clinics than sell-in meetings, because topics like inventory turns and profit margins interested me far less than passionately imparting the user experience delivered by the shoes I was selling.
Image of a delivery
Image of a delivery

After a time I found myself managing a performance footwear line, where my responsibility was to take concepts and designs and bring them to life. Delivering successful updates to popular models was a big part of what I did. I learned early on that the trick to this process was to reprise the fit and ride that runners expect from their favorite shoes, and then introduce that little something more that added an element of surprise and delight to the user experience.  

If you take a minute to think about the basic premise of “deliver the expectation, and include a value-add,” then aren’t all of us, in essence, product managers? Our products just might not be tangible goods that you can try on. For instance, storeowners produce products in the form of thoughtfully merchandised stores, a well-trained staff, and how they make their customers feel like they’re part of the family. Brand sales managers’ products are the teams that they put into the field and the terms they present to accounts. And of course, our Associate Partners offer products in the form of digital commerce tools. 

The point is, to ensure that your customers continue buying your product, you must constantly think like a product manager, and ask yourself the question: “What is it that people like about my product, and how can I make it better?”

The Running Industry Association is no different. Our products come in the form of member benefits, which we continue to evolve to add value to RIA membership. For instance, our newly re-booted freight program includes deeper discounts and a robust new service element to ensure that our members get the best possible freight deals. (Heads up, Brand Members: You can use it, too!)

Our partnership with Upper Quadrant in the form of Cadence Weekly Benchmarks offers insights that help stores understand where they index relative to their peers. 

Runchella, set for May 8-11, has evolved to allow our members to connect with each other in a variety of ways, depending on what each attendee finds as the most valuable use of their time at the show.

Finally, the RIA’s Product Data Collaborative will offer a time and money-saving platform for retailers, brands, and associate members to share and manage product data. We’re currently in the discovery and build-out phase, and we’re looking forward to sharing the details with you as we progress. When we bring the PDC to market, our goal will be to introduce a product that adds value to our member experience. 

With my “product guy” approach to supporting RIA initiatives, I’m excited about what this year will bring. Thanks for supporting that effort.

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