Ecommerce: Do your market research

We’ve had a few meetings lately with potential clients who are looking to sell online with a new ecommerce website. Some already have a physical shop and are expanding online and some are looking at starting a new online business. When the conversation turns to marketing, a pattern emerged.

Times have changed…

What became clear in a couple of cases is that once the new site was built it would be difficult to start making sales. Back in the olden days just launching a new site would often be enough to get traffic and sales. As larger players have got involved in selling online, some markets have become extremely difficult to break into. Going up against Tesco, John Lewis or Amazon is a nearly impossible task for some products.

…but there is still hope

The first problem will be getting good enough rankings to be seen when the companies with large marketing budgets are already dominating the rankings. The second problem can be competing against lower prices offered by companies who get economy of scale when buying their stock.

The answer to the first problem can be to pick a ‘long tail’ market or product range that larger players are not interested in. A smaller, niche market can be easier to get decent rankings for which will bring in new visitors. Another route is to use Google Shopping or Google Adwords to bypass the natural search results and promote your products. As long as the ad spend is comfortably less than your profit margin then this can work really well for new ecommerce sites.

A solution to competing on price is to simply not compete on price. More personal service or expert pre-sales advice can gain you the sale. Some people prefer to buy from smaller companies and actually speak to someone instead of being a faceless order amongst thousands.

Summary

Starting a new ecommerce website can succeed, but take care to research your market before investing to ensure that you can actually start to make sales once it’s launched!

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