First Steps… In Online Retail – Research Your Idea

All of these are connectedIn my last post I decide to use the example of starting up an online business connected with children’s parties to illustrate the “First Steps… In Online Retail” series.

This post looks in more detail at imho one of the most important business building blocks – market research.

My definition of market research probably won’t pass muster with any “proper” researchers, but here are some ways which have worked for me…

Business Libraries: The Mecca of business libraries is probably the City library in London. When setting up one of my businesses I actually made the journey from ‘Up North” to “Down South” three times to use the facilities here. I’ve also used the Manchester Business Library too which is v good. There is usually a business library in most big cities and often at Universities which you may be able to access. Use the information in a business library to research the sector and the market. Start by asking the Librarians – they’ll know where all the info is…

Research reports to look out for: Keynote, Mori and NOP… Also ask the librarians if they know of any BOPs (Business Opportunity Profiles) which might be related. Don’t discount any research that isn’t bang on as you may uncover related nuggets of info that adds to your knowledge.

Trade Magazines: Business libraries usually carry these, including the more obscure ones. If not, then it’s quite easy to sign up (often free) for ones which can give you new and up to date perspectives on the marketplace. Not sure on any for the children’s party sector, so think laterally – gift sector ? (Gifts Today), toys? (Toys and Playthings)…

Online Newspaper Collections: Use these to search for related news stories – I picked up an item on the cost of children’s parties for example and how much parent’s will spend… Also see if any of your competitors have had coverage in the press and what it was for.

Local Business Link - they may have information you can access for free – for related research concerned with business topics then the business link website is worth a good rummage.

Trade Shows - these can be great sources of both information and inspiration!

The Long List…

From all of this research, make a long list of any potential business ideas you could look further into:
Eg for the children’s party sector

  • General retail of party items
  • Party Invitations
  • Partyware
  • Fancy Dress
  • Party Bags – cheap, green, luxury, fairtrade ?
  • Bouncy castle hire

Based on this research you should now have started to identify possible business opportunities and know if the sector is growing, the size of the market and who the main competitors are…?

Asy yourself, “Is this a viable business sector for me?”

If the answer is “yes” then the next step is to analyse the competition!

Creative Commons License photo credit: adactio

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  1. says

    Good post, great advice.
    I spent 6 months researching my market and tracking down reputable companies to deal with. Every time I get an unusual request I know just where to get the right products so it was really worthwhile doing.

  2. says

    Hi Frog in the Field – Thanks for your reply – I love your stuff!
    You’re right – the time you put in now will be worth an awful lot later on…


  3. Kashyap says

    I am planning to be a drop-shipper on ebay and host of sites …
    I was wondering why not be a online retailer .. thanks for the advise ..

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