Tindie has been a favorite platform for creative makers for quite some time now. Hundreds of thousands of hardware craftsmen, hackers, and enthusiasts gather here, share their ideas and create a lot of amazing products.
Three years ago Tindie published an article that used the tools of data science to look at what makes a product successful. It’s been a very popular article, providing insight to the inventors who build their communities of customers through Tindie. With so many new products and sellers since the previous article, we were inspired to dig into the numbers once again to determine if the criteria for selling a successful product on Tindie has changed over the years.
What is “Success on Tindie”?
Everyone may have a different definition of success. On Tindie however, nothing makes the sellers happier than getting a huge amount of orders for their most popular products! Therefore, we are interested in digging into the order history of products, in the hope of finding the interesting secrets of Success on Tindie.
From January 1st 2014 until now, there have been 10,152 products published on Tindie, including both retired and active ones. Among these products, nearly half of them (49.9%) have been ordered at least once, while the other half (50.1%) have yet to be sold. The distribution of number of orders for products that have ever been ordered is plotted in the following graph:
As shown in the graph, the median of order quantity per product on Tindie is 4. Some products have even been ordered over 3000 times thanks to the help of the Tindie platform.
Since the range of order quantity is very wide and it is not evenly distributed, we will instead use the indicator – whether the product has been ordered or not – as the metric for Success on Tindie.
What Contributes to Success on Tindie?
Now that we have the definition of Success on Tindie, the next question is what factors actually contribute to customers placing orders for these successful products. From a customer perspective, the level of completeness of product and seller information are both important factors to determine whether or not they are genuine and reliable. Hence to model Success on Tindie, we decided on the following features in two groups:
Product Related Features
- time since published on Tindie (in weeks)
- unit price of the product
- title features:
- number of words in title
- number of capital letters in title
- number of punctuation marks in title
- number of words in summary
- description features:
- number of words in description
- number of punctuation marks in description
- vocabulary size of description
- feature introduction in description
- image features:
- number of images
- first image brightness
- first image dpi
- average image brightness
- average image dpi
- number of options
- number of tags
- YouTube link given
- document link given
- code link given
- design link given
- datasheet link given
Seller Related Features
- profile picture present
- number of words in store description
- number of punctuation marks in store description
- number of products in store
Sold vs. Unsold
In order to explore the importance of each factor of Success on Tindie, a random forest classifier was built based on the historical data, which correctly classified 75.0% of all the products. Moreover, the model correctly classified 74.1% of the products that have been ordered at least once, and 76.0% of the unsold products. The result is reasonable since there could be many other subjective reasons why customers purchase a product, our features in use do not necessarily explain 100% of why a product is sold or not. The features we are considering here are presentation choices a seller could choose to improve upon to get a higher probability of selling. So let’s take a look at how much effect each feature has on Success on Tindie:
Interestingly, the number of products within a single store turns out to be the most important factor for Success on Tindie, followed by the number of weeks of this product has been published on Tindie. Whether or not a supporting document or link is provided is also a top factor.
Now let’s take a look at the effect of each feature individually, given all other features fixed:
Number of Products in Store
The probability of selling goes up from 20% to 52% as the number of products goes up from 0 to 35, and then drops while the number keeps increasing. The possible explanation is that customers prefer to shop from vendors with a substantial amount of products. At the same time, when a store has too many products they may feel the quality of items can diminish as the vendor may not be specialized in all areas.
Key point: If you just started selling on Tindie, try to grow your store to have at least 5 products.
Time on Tindie (in weeks)
The probability of selling drops by roughly 5% in the first few weeks and can be attributed by newly published products getting more exposure as time progresses. Right after a product is published, it is featured on the Tindie homepage so everyone can see it! Thus, the probability of selling may drop slightly after the product stops showing up on the homepage, but as time goes by, both your store and products will build more and more reputation, and the chances of selling will gradually increase.
Key point: Don’t worry, it’s just a matter of time! If you wait for a year, you will probably have 10% higher chance of selling your product.
Adding a supporting documentation can be very helpful for customers to get detailed information about your product.
Key point: If you can add a link to documention for your product, it will boost the probability of selling by 4%.
This may depend on the product type and is not typically required for sellers, but data shows that customers prefer a product with options! Product options such as color combinations, kits, or bundles can all increase the probability of selling. Adding at least one option to your product can increase the chance of selling by up to 17%.
Key point: Add options if possible.
This may be a no-brainer to most sellers, but customers will take longer to make a high-value purchase. Customers that are prepared to pay a premium for a product will typically spend more time researching an item before making the final purchase.
Key point: You may want to consider modifying the profit margin of your product according to the graph. For high valued products, increasing the margin may help you gain more while not losing many customers. For low priced products, slightly decreasing the margin may bring you a lot more customers which will also result in more revenue. And for middle priced items, the best way is to fine tune the price so you can get a sense of which works the best. Moreover, occasional discounts may be a good idea to attract more customers.
Words in Description
Length of description of the product really matters. Having at least 250 words in your product description can bump up the probability of selling from 46% to 55%.
Key point: Write a nice description of your product with at least 250 words.
Punctuation in Description
The number of punctuation marks represents how well organized your description is for the product. Adding bullets, paragraph headings, tables, or anything you want, to make the description clearer and easier to read, the customers will also get a better understanding of the product. Here is a good example.
Key point: Organize the layout of your product description by using proper punctuation and utilize tools like bullets, tables, or outlines for a more detailed .
Words in Title
A nice product name or title can definitely attract more attention, but make sure it’s not too verbose. A simple title clearly describing your item will generally always work better over wordy or fluffed-up product names. Keep your product name to no more than 10 words in length, as anything longer can overwhelm the user or cause them to look elsewhere.
Key point: Create a short and descriptive title with no more than 10 words.
Number of Images
Sometimes pictures speak louder than words! The probability of selling gradually goes up when there are more images. Users tend to gather as much information as possible about a product before buying it.
Key point: Upload at least 3 images of the product.
Cover Image Brightness
The cover image plays a big role in attracting customer clicks. A good cover image can make the product stand out among a full page of products. We found that the right brightness level of the cover picture can boost the probability of selling by around 7%.
Key point: Choose a bright but not overexposed cover picture for your product.
Other features for example your code, a YouTube video, or the datasheet, would also help customers get to know more about the product, and thus give an additional boost to the likelihood of customer purchases. So you may want to consider them while editing your product pages as well.
We hope you find this article interesting and useful, and hope your products find Success on Tindie! 🙂
Yiqing (Cynthia) Huang is a Data Scientist at Supplyframe and a fan of all-things-Tindie. She holds an MSc in Statistics from the University of California, San Diego and a BS in Mathematics from Wuhan University.