Pacsafe's Guide to New Product Development
Some people think the threat of getting ripped off is all part of the adventure. But if you ever experience the pain of having your gear stolen, then you’ll know there has to be a better way. If you own a bag that offers extra security, then it frees you up to enjoy the ride. You may even get out of your comfort zone and experience something new, something life changing.
Pacsafe’s mission is to help people enjoy life’s adventures without worrying about their gears. To us, that means designing on-the-go security to protect your gear while trekking the world (or at home). We’ve consistently innovated the travel security space for the past 20 years and delivered award-winning designs that feature unparalleled anti-theft technology. It isn’t rocket science, but it does take some creative thinking, willingness to fail and a whole lot of persistence to succeed.
Here are a few basic steps we follow, when it comes to designing something new.
Start by defining the problem
The key is to be specific. Start with the actual problem you’re trying to solve, then move on to the cause. For example, if you’re trying to combat pickpocket theft out of a backpack, then it’s all about figuring out a way to stop sneaky fingers from opening zippers without you knowing. If you’re looking to stop people from breaking into your luggage even when it’s locked, then the first weak point to look at is the zippers and how to make them puncture resistant. Other entry points may include stopping people prying open your locks or slashing the bag.
Narrow down possible solutions to the problem
For every problem, there are bound to be a few solutions. However, some solutions might be too expensive, too flimsy or simply too hard to use. The trick here is to find a balance between cost, durability and ease of use. If you manage to get all three, then you’ve hit pay dirt. Using the pickpocket example above, two possible solutions are presented here: you can either put zip clips on every zipper to make them a bit trickier to open, therefore discouraging those looking for an easy target; or use a single anchor point that all zippers can latch onto and secure it with a padlock such as our patented Roobar design that’s featured on our Intasafe backpack.
To make a locked luggage more secure, add puncture-proof zippers to the bag to stop people sliding a pen between the zipper teeth, or incorporate interlocking zipper heads that seal tight to stop people from wedging them apart and breaking the padlock. You may even consider using a slash-proof fabric — our eXomesh ® material. So you see, there are lots of innovative ways to solve a problem. The trick is running through each solution by assessing which is going to provide the best balance and then testing from there.
Test your designs
Once you’ve figured out the solution to your problem and built it, now it’s time for some testing. More often than not, things will fail where you don’t expect them to, forcing you to go back the drawing board. So testing is crucial and you need to put them through as many tests as possible to see if your new invention will hold up.
After you’ve exhausted all the different possibilities in a controlled environment, head out into the real world to test it again, or better yet, give it to someone else to put it through its paces. Your average backpacker will be tougher on your invention than you will ever be. We’re fortunate enough to have some experienced explorers as advocates at Pacsafe who love testing out our gear. But, if you don’t have that luxury then friends and friends-of- friends are generally more than willing to get a ‘free’ sample in exchange for some honest feedback.
Iterate, retest, iterate, retest
This isn’t as much a single step as it is a series of repeating ones. However, the key to testing something is making sure that you actually improve your designs once you’ve identified its weak points. Fix problems, make it more user-friendly, and make your designs elegant if you can. Nothing is ever perfect, but make sure it does the job and does it well before you introduce the product to the world.
It took our team a year of rigorous testing to imbed our eXomesh® into the bag before we were happy with the result. Another thing to think about is whether your solution can potentially be applied to a range of designs. For example, the RFID blocking material we use in our wallets to guard against scan scams can also be used in the protective pockets of other bags. The more it can be scaled to multiple uses the more cost effective it will be in the long run. Having been said, just because the thing that you’ve designed can only be used in specific circumstances doesn’t mean it’s not a good one. But the problem it’s solving needs to be big enough to warrant that much attention or else it wouldn’t be as successful as you hope to be.
The final step involves launching your design and shouting it out to the world. Launching a product requires a lot of steps that we won’t detail here. Suffice to say that it’s a lot like going through childbirth — extremely painful to a point where you just want to give up and ask for the drugs. But trust us, it’s totally worth it. So, get out there, think about all the hard problems, brainstorm potential solutions, test your ideas and finally, refine your designs to make it better. The more problems you can solve the more people get to enjoy the essence of travel and embrace the adventure of life.
For more on Pacsafe’s anti-theft technology head to our website here. By signing up to our newsletter you not only get the scoop on our newest designs but receive travel tips, special offers and more.