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What is Product Retirement?

Ruben Buijs

Founder & Digital Consultant

Written on Aug 10, 2023

2 minutes

Product Management

Product retirement refers to the process of discontinuing a software-as-a-service (SaaS) product and removing it from the market. It involves the deliberate decision to stop offering a product to customers and taking necessary steps to wind down its operations.

Examples

  • Google Inbox: Google retired Inbox, an email app, in 2019. They communicated the retirement well in advance and provided alternative options for users.
  • Microsoft Windows XP: Microsoft retired Windows XP, an operating system, in 2014. They stopped providing updates and support for the product, encouraging users to upgrade to newer versions.

Importance

Product retirement is an essential aspect of product management. It allows companies to focus their resources on developing and supporting more relevant and profitable products. By retiring a product, businesses can avoid the costs associated with maintaining and updating outdated software. It also enables companies to align their product offerings with market demands and technological advancements.

How to Use Product Retirement

  1. Evaluate product performance: Assess the product's performance, including usage metrics, customer feedback, and market trends. Determine if the product is still meeting customer needs and if it aligns with the company's long-term strategy.
  2. Communicate with stakeholders: Notify customers, partners, and other stakeholders about the decision to retire the product. Clearly communicate the timeline, reasons, and any alternative solutions or migration paths available.
  3. Plan for transition: Develop a comprehensive plan for the retirement process, including a timeline, resource allocation, and steps to ensure a smooth transition for customers and any associated data or integrations.
  4. Execute retirement plan: Follow the established plan, ensuring all necessary actions are taken to retire the product, such as disabling access, terminating contracts, and archiving data.
  5. Evaluate post-retirement impact: Continuously monitor the impact of product retirement on customers, revenue, and market position. Use this feedback to improve future product retirements.

Useful Tips

  • Timing is crucial: Plan the retirement well in advance, considering factors such as contractual obligations, customer adoption of alternatives, and any dependencies on the product.
  • Provide alternatives: Offer customers alternative products or services that may fulfill their needs. This helps maintain customer loyalty and mitigates the impact of retirement.
  • Communicate effectively: Use multiple communication channels to inform customers about the retirement, ensuring they have sufficient time to migrate to alternative solutions.
  • Consider data migration: If applicable, provide customers with options to export or migrate their data from the retiring product to alternative solutions.
  • Learn from the retirement: Collect feedback from customers and internal teams to identify lessons learned and improve future product retirements.
  • End-of-life (EOL)
  • Sunset policy
  • Product decommissioning
  • Legacy product
  • Customer migration
  • Product lifecycle
  • Product obsolescence
  • Product replacement
  • Deprecation
  • Product versioning

FAQ

Product retirement refers to the process of discontinuing a product or feature, usually due to obsolescence, low demand, or the need to focus resources on other areas.
Companies retire products for various reasons such as outdated technology, declining sales, shifting market trends, or the need to allocate resources to more profitable areas.
Product retirement can impact customers by removing access to certain features or services, requiring them to find alternatives, or prompting them to upgrade to newer versions or products.
Customers can request the extension of product retirement, but it ultimately depends on the company's strategic decisions, available resources, and the feasibility of meeting customer demands.
Companies should communicate product retirement to customers through various channels such as email notifications, in-app messages, blog posts, or FAQs, ensuring clear and timely information about the retirement process, alternatives, and any available support.
If a customer's preferred product is being retired, they should explore alternative solutions offered by the company, seek recommendations, evaluate the compatibility of new products, and plan a smooth transition before the retirement date.
Product retirement can be managed effectively by conducting thorough market analysis, planning ahead for retirement strategies, offering migration assistance, providing customer support, and actively gathering feedback to continuously improve the retirement process.
Yes, product retirement can have advantages for companies such as freeing up resources for more innovative projects, reducing maintenance and support costs, and enabling better focus on core products or emerging market opportunities.
Product retirement and end-of-life (EOL) are similar concepts, but EOL generally refers to the complete cessation of support, including bug fixes and security patches, while product retirement may include a transition period or limited support.
Companies can minimize customer dissatisfaction during product retirement by providing ample notice, offering alternative solutions, maintaining open communication channels, addressing concerns and feedback, and providing any necessary assistance during the transition period.

Article by

Ruben Buijs

Ruben is the founder of ProductLift. I employ a decade of consulting experience from Ernst & Young to maximize clients' ROI on new Tech developments. I now help companies build better products

Table of contents

  1. Examples
  2. Importance
  3. How to Use Product Retirement
  4. Useful Tips
  5. Related Terms

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