Know your customer and market
The golden rule before launching any business is to analyze your market and ideal customer.
What is market analysis?
This is a process of gathering information about your industry's demand – uniforms in your particular case - its niche and target market.
The main aim of this research is to gather the information that will help you to identify your ideal customer and their problems which you can then solve with your products and services.
This step is time-consuming but essential, as rushing with it or not doing deep research can doom your business even before you start it.
Here are some general questions you might need to find answers to:
- What problem am I trying to solve with my shop?
- Who is my ideal customer?
- How large is my audience?
- How do my customers usually order uniforms? How can I improve their experience?
- How much can they pay for the uniforms I sell?
- Who are my competitors?
You can supplement this list of questions depending on your objectives.
Try to gather as much information as possible. The more helpful information you have, you'll make fewer business mistakes.
Once you're all set with the list of questions, what are the essential steps of market analysis?
Find your ideal customer
The target audience is your ideal customers. Shortly put, it is a group or several groups of people with a specific pain you solve and get money for.
For example, your ideal customers can be businesses and members of sports teams who need to print some uniform sets according to their requirements.
Usually, they would order uniforms by phone or manually fill out brochures. It is hard to visualize the final design and causes back-and-forth emails where you constantly send logos and mockups to your customers for approval.
Such an approach finally causes a lot of returns and errors where you need to reprint or produce the ordered item again.
The ability to order online with the live preview of any design changes allows you to solve the main pain of your customers - communicating their needs correctly to get their uniforms printed according to their needs.
With online uniforms personalization, customers can choose the uniform template in your online store, colorize it, put a logo on the desired place, fill in the player roster and add the design to the cart.
You then get the design details and output files in your admin panel and can print the item as per the customer's requirements.
Thus, communication becomes much more accessible and saves you a ton of time you can spend on other business tasks.
Let's now dive more deeply and identify common traits your audience has to understand your target market better.
For example, it's helpful to collect the following data:
- Company size
- Average revenue
- History of purchases
Based on this research, you can identify customer personas to build a more detailed picture of your potential customers, including information about their pains, motivations, frustrations, and ordering behavior.
This information will allow you to understand how you can satisfy your customers' needs fully.
Research your competition
Your competitors are always a source of helpful information.
Check what uniforms they sell and whether they offer personalization, and try to understand why customers purchase there.
You can do a spreadsheet with a list of your competitors to collect valuable data about them, check them from time to time, and keep them up-to-date.
Identify their strength and weaknesses to cover how your competitors are performing and how it can shed light on areas of your opportunity to grow.
Strengths, for example, can be the website's responsiveness, user-friendliness, and the ability to choose from ready templates rather than starting from scratch or even personalize uniforms using the uniform design app.
Weaknesses, for example, can be a poorly designed site, loading speed or checkout issues, and no ability to obtain design proof before ordering.
Study their success stories or stories of similar brands. You can use their experience and understand what you can do better to have a more competitive advantage and develop a unique value proposition.
Where to find the data for your market research?
There are many ways to get information.
You can use public resources such as Google to collect any available statistics or information about the audience and uniform market.
You can also use free analytics tools to gather information about your competitors.
Check the social media of your potential customers, as there can be a ton of beneficial information to understand them better.
You can also review competitors' founders' profiles on LinkedIn or Crunchbase to learn more about their businesses and success stories.
As a more thorough approach, you can conduct your research by running surveys, interviews, or focus group sessions with your potential customers.
The above steps will help you collect more in-depth and original information and ask questions tailored to your business.
Pick Your Niche
Now it's time to decide what sports uniforms you plan to sell. It's a significant point before you start.
Trying to offer as many general products as possible in your online shop may be ineffective rather than focusing on something specific which enchants your target audience. There is where the niche helps.
For instance, if you specialize in custom uniforms, your niche can be a specific sport that is most popular among your customers, e.g., football jerseys for adults, baseball uniforms for women's teams, or school uniforms for kid teams.
Finding a niche and narrowing your target audience will help you to launch your online uniform business with minimum costs and offer a more personalized approach.
How and where to find your niche products?
Find out what and how customers are searching by conducting keyword research.
You can simply use Google for this. When you perform a search, Google automatically completes your sentence with the most searched terms, which can bring some ideas.
You can also use keyword research tools such as Ahrefs and Semrush. These tools show the average number of searches for each keyword which can help you understand if the niche you're discovering is worth investing in.
Typically, such tools also suggest other keyword ideas to help you discover unique niches you've never heard of before.
Google Trends is a free tool that shows the popularity of specific Google searches and suggests related queries and topics that might seem attractive.
For example, we've chosen Hockey Jersey. You can see quite clearly that there's been skyrocketing growth over the past several months.
You can also set a period from 2004 until today to understand if this niche is stable or has only high search intent seasonally.
One of the other ways to find a niche is to check some popular online communities like niche forums and social media groups.
You can read members' posts, discussions, and comments to understand what is trendy and what niche products you can offer them.
In addition, try to start a conversation and be actively involved. It will help you better understand this audience's pains and develop your value proposition.
Online shopping is growing fast, so now is the best time to start.
Launching an online business is tricky, but it becomes easier with a deep understanding of what you need to do to operate efficiently.
In the next part of the series, we'll discuss how to choose the e-commerce platform and design a buying journey for your online custom uniform shop. Stay tuned!