As the world economy continues to struggle to climb out of the economic crises of the past few years, online market research proves beyond doubt that an innate understanding of customer needs and attitudes continues to be the most reliable path to retail success.
More and more retailers adding online storefronts
As traditional retail outlets continue to struggle with rising overheads and increasing competition from online storefronts, many have decided to take the fight to rival territory. An increasing number of retailers are starting an online storefront to sell their products to customers across the country; many have even gone global. Different brands have gone about this in different ways. Whereas some companies have added an online catalog and shopping cart for select items to their official websites, others have entered into tie-ups with independent online stores, with the latter getting exclusive rights to sell brand items online. Yet other corporations, especially established retail giants, have set up independent web stores.
In one way, these companies have a clear idea over other online start-ups. They can draw on a larger pool of resources as well as the power of store-based promotions to build up a clientele for their e-commerce ventures. For example, many retail giants offer special coupons that can only be redeemed at their online stores.
Nevertheless, despite this very real advantage, traditional retail outfits need to negotiate a steep learning curve if they are to successfully set up an e-commerce operation. The first thing to do is to understand the unique strategies and requirements of successful online marketing.
Online marketing has its own rules
One of the first things such companies need to learn is that online marketing is far less direct than direct sales and marketing strategies. For example, research has proved beyond doubt that an attractive window display is one of the most powerful tools in a traditional retailer’s arsenal. In contrast, even the most attractive webpage will be wasted unless customers can be persuaded to check it out in the first place.
Extensive consumer research is the only answer. Companies need to find out:
• what online shoppers are looking for
• how they search for what they want
• where do they go to get information on brands and products
• why they choose certain products over others?
Only once this insight has been gathered can an effective e-commerce strategy be created.
To conclude, the most effective e-commerce strategies are the ones that cater fully to customers’ wants and needs. Extensive market research and expert insight into online shopping trends is essential if companies are to survive in the field.