For those familiar with The Lean Startup principles (mainly the Minimum Viable Product), just how minimal can I go with an MVP to test an ecommerce idea?

For context – I want to test out an idea of a brand that sells a particularly unique type of shirt. I'm not talking printing on t-shirts, I mean a different style of shirt (i.e. not a t-shirt, or a polo, or a button down).

Of course, developing a shirt from scratch, even just one prototype, can cost a bit of money and time. And it could also take a lot of time to come up with brand name, logo, complete website, social channels, etc.. everything else that comes with an ecommerce business.

My question is, how can I apply the Lean Startup principles to make a truly minimal MVP for this ecommerce idea?

My current train of thought to test this out:

  1. instead of making a real prototype shirt, try to find someone to "CGI/edit/whatever" a fake shirt and use those as product photos.
  2. create a sales page with above images, product descriptions, and option to checkout, submit info, all the way to confirm order, only to be notified that product isn't available and they've been put on a waitlist for it (no payment collected).

My questions around this method:

  1. okay, how the hell would I actually create fake images of a shirt design? who could I turn to for help here? or is this not a good idea for testing a product?
  2. I can create a sales page with images and product description, but what about brand name, logo, About Us section, social media channel etc? All these other things customers may interact with before making a purchasing decision? These would need to be in place as well, right?
  3. How do I leverage ads to test this out?
  4. Is there a different way altogether that I should test this idea out?

Would really appreciate your thoughts on this. I think that many of us could benefit from nailing down a method to develop an MVP to test ecommerce ideas instead of pouring too many resources into a failed effort.

submitted by /u/stefanohuff
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