You will have several important questions to address honestly here.
Does the web make sense for your business? The web has an immense power to transform a business. With that said, sometimes a product just doesn’t seem to lend itself to online sales — at least at first glance. Businesses like amusement parks, bowling alleys and utility companies either require the customer to be on-site or offer a product that is largely intangible.
But even for those types of businesses, customers have come to expect an online presence. A company can sell tickets or offer discounts through its website, show images and videos of its facilities, set up online games that relate to and increase demand for its offerings, or enable customers to make payments over the internet.
What are other companies doing? Just as with their brick-and-mortar stores, online entrepreneurs must understand the competition if they hope to survive. A competitive analysis will help equip online business owners with the information needed to promote and differentiate their online businesses.
The leap for entrepreneurs who open their doors on the internet, however, is learning not just what other competitors in their physical geography are doing to spark sales, but also what the competitors who share their cyberspace are offering. Say you want to sell beauty products online.
A keyword search for “lipstick” in Google, eBay and online shopping portals offers a glimpse at which competitors come up most often and highest on the list. Then, a look at those competitors’ product selections, pricing structures, promotional offers and target audiences can help shape your own storefront to stand out from the gaggle of competitors.
This can be a time-consuming process, but it’s invaluable research that costs hours rather than dollars. In this instance, time is money that will be returned many times over.
If there are already businesses in this space, it’s important to differentiate. Perhaps offer a more comprehensive set of products or services. Maybe the business will have a customer service or technology advantage, or consider tailoring the product to a niche market?