Before You Start in Ecommerce – Do the Research.
Before you start an ecommerce website, it is critical you put in a good day’s work and do the research. Competitor, Keyword and Product Research all need to be carried out to prevent you entering a market where there is little or no demand (prospects) with potentially too much supply (competitors)—or just the fact that the product you intend to sell has a market, but that market is not online. Having discipline and putting in the research time now can prevent years of headaches, pain, and stress and ultimately save you a lot of cash in the process.
What if you do enter a market with a small amount of customers and lots of competitors? This may equal disaster—unless you totally dominate this niche. However, ‘niche ‘too often equals to ‘small market and small profits’. You want to enter a niche category within a big product category. Such as DVD players as a niche category within the main Home Entertainment category.
Competitor Analysis & Research.
Competitor Analysis is about assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your current and potential competitors—finding your competitive edge—and has two primary objectives:
- Obtaining information about important competitors
- Using that information to predict competitor behavior
The Goal of Competitor Analysis is to Understand:
- Which competitors to compete against and to go head-to-head with
- Competitors’ strategies and planned actions
- How competitors might react to your market entry and subsequent actions
- How to influence competitor behavior to your own advantage
Simplified, this means you need to go to the Google search engine and start looking at your future competitor’s websites.
Ask Yourself These Questions:
- Are your competitors’ websites good or poor quality?
- What products, features and services do they offer?
- Who comes up in the top 10 search results for your top keyword terms?
- Is their On-Site (on-page) and Off-Site (off-page) SEO work of high quality or mediocre?
- Do they advertise with Google Adwords (Pay per Click) or focus on search engines only?
- How many ads do they run and do they have a large budget?
- Can you compete, give them a good run for their money, and take sales and market share from them?
- What is your competitive edge, your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), where can you excel where your competitors do not?
There are various tools available to carry out solid competitor research prior to launching your website, and also once you are trading. These allow you to watch your competitors’ behavior, including their site and product updates.
Tools to Help You Monitor Competitor & Market Activity:
- Google Alerts: www.google.com/alerts
- Copernic Tracker: www.copernic.com/en/products/tracker/index.html
Use the keyword tools on offer—such as Google’s free Google Adwords Research Tool—or use a subscription service like Wordtracker.com as these will give you a good idea about the market you are about to enter. This involves running searches for your top keywords, seeing what online searchers are actually typing into the search engines, analyzing the results and making your product decisions or site content based on this.
When you have the data, mix these numbers with your common sense and intuition. And I say this because you may find some keywords that you absolutely know are major search terms, are showing as low volume on the keyword tools.
My best advice here is to go to the two sites below, read the help files and simply have a go, and
utilize the export to CSV/Excel option. You will soon understand what they are about and this will give you a good overview of your market supply and demand.
- Google Adwords Tool: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal
- Wordtracker: www.wordtracker.com/
Hot Tip: When exporting to CSV or Excel, before you sort the key phrases into your desired order, insert a new column in A and number the key phrases top to bottom. This helps you to reorder the spreadsheet and key phrases into the original exported order, should you wish later on.
Just like with competitor research, get out onto Google and see what products your competitors are selling and the price they sell them for. You will soon get a good picture of what sells and what does not and if there is profit to be made. Tie this in with your Keyword research and you will establish what products your prospects are searching for (demand). Worldwide brands are just one popular product research tool found online:
- WorldWideBrands: www.worldwidebrands.com