ecommerce Ideas are everywhere. In the startup field, new ideas get generated by the minute and entrepreneurs keep finding gaps in the market where their products/services can make a difference.
Do all ideas work? No. If they did, we will have more successful businesses than human beings in the world.
Right now, it is very easy to create an eCommerce website. Pre-designed themes are available in plenty. Did you know that there are anywhere from 12-24 million eCommerce sites registered across the world?
Out of these, only 1 million of the sites record sales of over $1000/year. What happens to the remaining websites? They either stay stagnant or are closed in a few years of time. This is what happens when you create a business without validating the idea or understanding of the idea is viable.
What is viability? Viability is the ability of an idea to survive and grow.
What is market validation? This term was first used in a book named ‘If You Build It Will They Come? Three Steps to Test and Validate Any Market Opportunity’ written by Rob Adams. Validation involves a series of steps taken to identify if there is a market for what you plan to sell.
Your eCommerce idea may be grand and really unique. Will you be able to convert the idea into a successful working business model? Will the business model give you profits? Does the business have the bandwidth to grow and sustain?
All these are questions you should ask and research before you take any idea forward. Here are things you should research to know if your idea is validated and viable.
Keyword analysis and search volume analysis
Keyword Analysis is a popular SEO technique where the optimizer identifies keywords that people search for and use those words in the website. By adding the most searched terms on the site, chances are the website ranks better on search engine searches. There are a lot of tools that help identify keywords for a particular domain or product/service.
You can use keyword analysis to know if there are people actually searching for whatever you are planning to sell. If there are no search hits, then it could mean there is no market or the market space is very narrow.
Search volume analysis is another vital thing to research when you are trying to find if your eCommerce idea is viable. Search volume analysis tells you how many times a particular keyword is searched online on search engines.
The more the search volume, the more popular a product or a service is. If the top keywords analyzed for your business idea have higher search volumes, it means you have a ready market waiting to embrace you.
There are a lot of tools that you can use for both keyword research and search volume analysis.
Check out Netilly’s detailed blog on the 7 best keyword research tools you can use. It is very easy to analyze possible keywords and their search volumes for your business idea on these platforms. Check the screenshots below.
These tools give you valuable data like the search volume, competition for the particular keyword, Click-Through Rate (CTR), and SERP rankings.
Trend analysis – using Google trends
‘Trending’ is a term every business owner wants to hear. When something is trending online, it means a lot of people are searching about it, interested in it, and sharing it across different social platforms.
You can use Google Trends, a tool that tells you what is trending in different parts of the world, to research your business idea.
Here are different ways to make use of Google Trends for an eCommerce idea.
What do your customers want? What are they searching for now? Knowing this will help refine your idea and cater to existing needs.
Let’s say you want to start a blog page that talks about the COVID pandemic. Go to Google Trends and search for COVID 19. You will instantly know if people are looking for this information and if so, what kind of topics they are searching for.
Compare different products/services
Let’s assume you have narrowed down on an industry in which you want to manufacture products. You want to know what kind of products people are searching for. On Google Trends, you can compare different products and know if the product you want to produce is being searched by the common folks or not. Check this comparison on Trends between N95 masks and cloth masks. People have obviously been searching more for N95 masks than cloth masks in the last year.
Longevity of trends
Something could be trending and you can decide to start a business based on it. What will happen once the product or service stops trending? Do you want to build a brand that lasts for years? Then check the longevity of the trends. In other words, look for how consistently the keyword has been searched and has remained popular.
For a period of several years, the searched term needs to maintain a consistent or a rising graph. If you see high peaks once in a while and low flat lines otherwise, it means a fad. These are not ideas worth investing in.
Check the graph for COVID 19 safety. Obviously, the graph remained flat all through the years before 2019 and is peaking now. We will need to wait for a couple more years to see how the graph progresses.
Now, let’s search for Valentine’s Day gifts. Look how it peaks only during February every year!
Now look for flower bouquets. This obviously is a hit business idea and has been trending continuously since 2004.
On Google trends, you can filter the trending topics based on location, year, and categories too. Give this wonderful free tool a try before you validate your idea.
Market research – research on market size, competition
Market research is one of the most important pre-startup needs. Starting a business (offline or online), without proper market research is like gambling in a casino. Most times, you will end up losing your time and money.
Here are things market research will tell you.
- Market demand
- Present and future market size
- Market saturation (a condition where the present market does not produce any more demand)
- Competitor analysis
All these are extremely important in designing a business plan from an eCommerce idea.
It is not easy for your internal team to conduct market research if they don’t have the expertise. It makes sense to hire market research experts to do the job. These experts will ask for basic details like your business idea, target audience, the industry your business will be based on and come back to you with clear recommendations on whether the idea is viable or not.
If the idea is viable, the market research team will give you the below details.
- Existing competitor market shares
- List of direct and indirect competitors
- The advantage price point you should opt for
- Your opportunities and threats when you enter the market
- Newer markets to look at
Voice of the Market – survey by speaking to the target audience
At the end of the day, your eCommerce idea is only as successful as your customers perceive it to be. If your target customers don’t want what you sell, you will lose out in the market.
A lot of brands spend money, time, and effort is building a brand and only later realize that the market did not actually want or was interested in what they offered.
Be a smart eCommerce business owner. Make sure you analyze the voice of the market before you even take the first step towards building a brand.
A good voice of market report will tell you the following.
- Are customers looking for what you are offering?
- What can you do to make the lives of customers easy?
- What are the behavioral and spending patterns of your target market?
- Will customers need your products/services regularly?
Once you identify a broad set of target audiences or markets, start by interacting with them. Surveys are easy ways to know what’s in the mind of your customers. You can post the survey online on social media platforms and get the potential audience to answer them.
You can also work with market research companies who do this work on a larger scale for you.
If you are planning on a small startup for your neighborhood, you can even go out giving physical copies of surveys and get people on the streets to fill them up for you.
Analyze the survey and understand if people will respond and commit to your eCommerce business when you go live.
Analyze the numbers
Get some number crunching done before you understand the viability of your eCommerce idea.
Let’s say your market research team comes back to you saying the organic apples you are planning to procure and sell need to be priced around ₹250/kg. This is the average price of other top brands that are in the same industry.
Now, you have to calculate if this is possible. Consider the costs of buying the apples from farmers, transporting them in chilled containers, storing them, and shipping them. You also will incur internal costs like maintaining the website, paying for your employees, and warehouse charges if any. All these, put together, is called the landing price of the product.
So what will be the average landing price for a kilo of organic apples? Will you be able to make profits if you offer them for the selling price suggested?
If you price them higher, what extra do you offer to validate the high costs? Here are some other questions you need answers to before you consider your idea viable.
- How many products do you need to sell a month to break even?
- Does the market have the capacity to buy the extra products that come from your brand?
- Do you have the bandwidth to offer sale deals and discounts?
- Do you have a Unique Selling Point (USP)? This is your own unique factor that makes you stand out in the crowd of other competitors.
Sometimes, businesses may realize that even though their product/service idea is great, they can never break even considering the competition and the ability of other brands to offer low prices. In such cases, it is smart to let go of the idea and move on.
‘New ideas pass through three periods – It can’t be done. It probably can be done, but it’s not worth doing. I knew it was a good idea all along!’
These are the words of Arthur C. Clarke. Ideas have helped the human race progress from being cavemen to stepping on the moon.
All ideas are amazing. However, when it comes to investing money and time in an idea, you need to know if the idea is worth it.
Here are common reasons why businesses fail.
- The business did not solve a problem
- The business did not identify if the problem was so big that it needs to be solved by a brand
- The business did not care to check if better brands are solving the problem
- The brand did not talk to their target audience to understand if they needed help in the first place
If you have a business eCommerce idea and you want to talk to someone about it, get in touch with us. We have a group of experts with years of hands-on knowledge about eCommerce businesses and know what works and what doesn’t. We will be happy to schedule a free consultation with you.
Do you have a great business idea? What stage is it in the process of getting implemented? Mention in the comments below.