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Where To Find Sales And Product Trends And How To Use Them To Your Advantage

Where To Find Sales And Product Trends And How To Use Them To Your Advantage

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Online retailers know how difficult it can be to capture the attention of the people who would really like to buy their products, if only they knew about them.

At the same time, as the Internet has brought a worldwide marketplace to the front door of an online retailer’s virtual store, it has made it so much more difficult to find your customers. Well, not really, if you know where to look and how to look.

Along with an enormous potential customer base, the Internet also provides more ways to collect marketing data than ever before. In the good ‘ole’ days, marketing data cost a lot of money. Bricks and mortar retailers hired firms that surveyed customers and provided information at a high cost. Or, major industry watch groups accumulated data by poring over varied information sources, aggregating information then selling it back to industry members at prohibitive prices. But, no more!

Now the information you need is readily available at no cost or relatively low cost.

Are you taking advantage of the information that is available for free on the Internet, using it to increase your sales opportunities? You should recognize that while not every piece of data may be useful to you, the more informed you are, the better decisions about your business you can make. In particular, usage trends can be enormously helpful in finding your potential customers and knowing what they want to buy.

Finding Data

EBay: One of the best and easiest places to find usage data is on eBay. Hot Items by Category is the name of a monthly report published by eBay that is an excellent tool for understanding the leading buying trends in that marketplace. However, you have to dig a bit to find it.

Go to EBay Pulse and search by category for the hottest selling items on EBay. Given that there are over 250 million registered users, it is not a bad place to find out what people want to buy.

Data Crunchers: There are hundreds of organizations that have made a business out of studying the Internet and generating data about usage. For example:

- Pew Internet offers a tremendous amount of free data about Internet usage.

- Internet Retailer offers data specifically related to online retail sales.

- Tech Crunchies offers a variety of Internet use data as well.

- Trends Update Follows trends on a variety of subjects.

Google Alerts: One of the best ways to keep up with the flow of new information that can help you in your business is to let Google watch the net for you and feed you information that is useful. Google Alerts lets you set up alerts based on keywords of interest.

So, if you sell coffee pots, you can set that up as a keyword and anytime Google sees anything new related to coffee pots, you get an alert. Now if your keyword is somewhat broad, you may get much more than you want. It makes sense to try different words until you get the kind of information you need. For example, if one of your competitors is Coffeepot Heaven, that might be a good alert word. You will know each time that site does anything new.

Using the Data

Now that you have sources of data, what do you do with it to improve sales? Well of course it depends on what you are selling, what data you found, how general or specific it is and so on. But, here are some examples to get your own analytic juices flowing.

In June 2009, the Techcrunchies site posted this information: Cell Phones – IPhones are seemingly less prone to malfunction than a blackberry or a Treo. Here is the malfunction rate observed after the first 22 months of use:

iPhone: 9.9%
Blackberry: 15.2%
Treo: 19.9%

The study was conducted by Squaretrade

Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Everyone loves word-of-mouth marketing because it is free! Read this study from Tech Crunchies.

What is it that an internet user would like to recommend on the internet?

Price: 64%
Quality: 55%
Convenience: 33%

The study is not too surprising in that it lists price as the number one reason to shout out but, quality is a reasonably close runner up. Can you use these two pieces of information to your advantage?

How about taking one of your high quality products and start to advertise it with something like ‘You can afford quality’ and add a time limited discount coupon.

If you feel that you cannot afford a coupon, try a discount on volume purchase of your product. Then your price reduction is easier because your volume goes up.

Going Green

If you have been following trends, you know that people are looking for greener alternatives. Suppose you sell personal care products. Go to Trends Update, look around for new ideas and you will find the Rocket Shower, a small spray bottle with a liquid that allows you to get clean and fresh smelling after bicycling to work or jogging at lunch in an eco-friendly way. There are dozens of new gadgets and ideas there in the green category.

Data: learn to love it!

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