While ecommerce businesses often begin as passion projects, the laws of supply and demand are still very much in effect. To ensure that a great idea has the potential to sustain itself, the market demand needs to be evaluated.

What is market demand?

Market demand describes the demand for a given product and who wants to purchase it. This is determined by how willing consumers are to spend a certain price on a particular good or service. As market demand increases, so does price. When the demand decreases, price will go down as well. Market demand is the total of what everyone within a specific industry desires and can help guide merchants when building an ecommerce site.

How to research market demand

Knowing market demand can help inform future online businesses what industry is most profitable to enter into. Therefore, many business owners will have to conduct market demand research. Marketing research involves seeking out studies, data and general information about an industry or sector. It often requires several different approaches, an organized method of accumulation figures, careful interpretation and detailed reporting. However, that doesn't mean new entrepreneurs need an entire marketing department to find out about market demand. There are three methods they can use when conducting research:

  • Surveys: Social media networks are excellent places to post surveys about products, industries and services. Find out what friends and family have to say about a particular need or idea. Send out a survey in an email, asking everyone to forward it to three additional people. The greater scope a business owner can use, the better their market research will be. There are also many surveys and case studies available for download online. If making business decisions based on these documents and reports, be sure to check the sources and look into how the data was acquired. Some surveys are geographical or target a specific audience, which can both skew results.
  • Experiments: Designing experiments is time consuming and expensive, but can be beneficial to an ecommerce store. For example, offering a new product at a discounted price for a limited time is a good way to experiment with it and find out how customers like it. This requires a lot of customer interaction and a steadfast commitment to tracking results over time.
  • Observations: Simply looking around – both in the physical and the digital worlds – can give huge clues about market demand. Observing trending topics and products on sites like Twitter and Pinterest can lend insight into almost every industry. This can also include reading local newspapers or publications within the region in which an ecommerce store owner would like to see his or her products.

Data types

Keep in mind that different data types require unique analytical approaches. Primary data accounts for any new information gleaned specifically for the purpose of the research. This includes any feedback entrepreneurs receive from online fans after making a direct ask for input. Secondary data refers to any information available already to the business owner. This includes any previously completed studies, past questionnaires or information collected from another source for a similar scenario. Both types of data are valid to use toward market demand research, though it's necessary to note the dates on past documents. On one hand, markets change quickly and anything outdated could be detrimental to the research. On the other hand, they can provide an insightful analysis of how the market has evolved over time. This would allow ecommerce merchants to better predict future trends and align their business procedures accordingly.

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