Ever since the launch of the ESP8266 Weather Station in the US Amazon store I had to ship two different versions of this product. The customized box containing the Weather Station with the NodeMCU, a OLED display, a DHT11 and some cables was only available through Amazon in the US. To the rest of the world I could only ship the less customized starter kit, sometimes even delivered by three separate packages. I am very happy that I found a fulfillment service in China which allows me to store and ship the nice starter kit to you wherever in the world you live!
In the past 20 months I sold several hundreds of WeatherStations to more than 25 countries, but this wasn’t the product I had in mind. As a big fan of the Minimal Viable Product (MVP) to start lean was the perfect route to go. Create a product that worked, even if there was a lot of room for improvement. A type of service called drop shipping allowed me to create and ship this first MVP to many of you all over the world. It allowed me to learn that there was a lot of interest in the product and I had to solve all these little problems during the process. But after a while I decided to take it to the next level. I found a manufacturer in China who would assemble the components and put them into a pretty and useful plastic box. Another big step was then to sell these starter kits through the Fulfilled-by-Amazon Service (FBA) and again I learned a lot since I had bought wrong USB cables without knowing (read more about this lesson here).
Now I have taken another big step: with SendFromChina.com (SFC) I have found a service which allows me to store the starter kits until a buyer orders one of them from my shop. Then the fulfillment service from SFC will ship the starter kit from China directly to you, to destinations all over the world This solves all the problems I had with the drop shipping service I used before: often one of the four components was out of stock or the supplier decided to ship the four components in three separate packages, since they were stored in three different warehouses! Too much trouble for a relatively simple product!
Looking back I still think these were the right steps: build a MVP, proof that it works and continue to improve the product or service and reduce costs and time to manage it. The first shop was only a Paypal button and it took me about 25 minutes to process one order. On the Amazon platform everything is made for me by Amazon, I just have to ship the goods to the Amazon Warehouses and from time to time answer user questions. I still have to get acquainted to the new fulfillment service in China since they offer a lot of options, e.g. various shipment providers etc.
Could I raise your interest? Your ESP8266 WeatherStation is waiting on a shelf in Dongguan for you too!
A ridiculous amount of coffee was consumed in the process of building this post/project. Add some fuel if you'd like to keep me going!