Horrible or Awesome #5 – Your Market

Ignore the market you are going to sell in at YOUR PERIL…

Sure, there are 50,000 computer stores online, but yours is going to be better! Market research is for people who don’t know what they want to sell, right?

You didn’t research for your term paper in high school and you passed, so why should an online business be any different? Don’t invest time or money in unique products or services, and don’t even think of developing some sort of unique selling proposition.

Just bang out a site with the exact same products as your competition, only make yours more expensive, lesser known, and harder to deal with!

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been researching osCommerce sites for addition onto the Hot 100 – and I cannot tell you the number of osCommerce stores that do NOTHING to differentiate themselves from others (in terms of USP).

In the osCommerce Live Shops list, I would guesstimate that at least 15% of ALL the stores no longer exist – which says much for the amount of planning that potential business owners actually put into their business. Another 25% are running osCommerce out of the box, and a further 25% are using “Monster” templates which give no USP at all. Come on people, wake up and smell the coffee!

For the uninitiated, a USP is a Unique Selling Proposition. In layman’s terms, it’s what makes your website special for the customer. It’s why customers would buy from you instead of the big guys, and it’s probably the single most important thing for your sales.

You may want to make a website that sells computer parts, but you have to understand that there are 50,000 companies selling computer parts.

Just what is going to set your site apart? Great shipping deals? Lower prices? Advanced configurations? Whatever it is, you need to do your market research, find out what your USP is going to be, and implement it successfully to make money.

Most of this post is courtesy of my good friend Jason over at JC Commerce.

3 Replies to “Horrible or Awesome #5 – Your Market”

  1. We’ve recently been watching Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares on the telly. You might wonder what on earth that has to do with your posting about USPs and research. Quite a lot, I think. So many people try to “live the dream” but they don’t put enough research into it first.

    So, you want to invest your life savings in a big hotel with four restaurants. Have you ever run a hotel before? Have you ever run a restaurant before? A small bed and breakfast even?

    The answer is invariably “no”. And then the people wonder why they’re failing.

    By all means be ambitious. Try new things! But don’t go into it blindfolded with no clue about what you’re trying to do.

    Do your research. Find out who your customers are. Find out what they want! Find your USP. Differentiate your product in some way. Don’t forget to check out the competition. Unless you’re as lucky as a pools winner, success is unlikely to fall into your lap. You have to work for it.

  2. They say that the commonest cause of failure for small businesses is a cash flow problem, i.e. not enough capital to cover the gap between paying and getting paid. However, trying to sell something that nobody wants must be another. If you get both of those right, you still have to tell people you exist, and tell them why you are likely to be different from all the other businesses selling the same thing.

    Of course, you may be so clever that you are the first person to think of supplying a pent-up demand. In that case you still need to be sure you can make a profit doing so, and you need to convince people that you are doing a grand job satisfying their need. If you stock a warehouse with a better mousetrap, people will not automatically flock to your door. Even if they hear about it, they’ve been had before. They’re skeptical.

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