3.8 Competitive Intelligence and Market Research on the Internet


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The E-Business, the E-Customer, their Relationship and Interactivity



KunnskapskildenE-Business –
E-Business, E-Customer, Relationship and Interactivity


The E-Business, the E-Customer,
their Relationship and Interactivity 

Jan Vig 

Dissertation  av Jan Vig om E.Business, E-Customer, Relationship and Interactivity  (286 sider) i forbindelse med Masterstudie i Information Technology and Communication Juni 2000.


The E-Retailer Business, the E-Customer,
their Relationship and Interactivity

Table of Contents

Chapter One Introduction to the study

Chapter Two Business in Cyberspace

Chapter Three E- Retailer Commerce

Chapter Four E-Customer, Relationship and Interactivity

Chapter Five A Successful Case study – Amazon.com

Chapter Six The Future, Critical Success Factors, E-Business Strategy, Results and Conclusion




Chapter 3

The E-Retailer Commerce 



Chapter Three E- Retailer Commerce

3.1 Introduction
3.2 The E-Commerce Opportunities, Barriers and Challenges
3.2.1 SWOT
3.2.2 Opportunities and benefits
3.2.3 Barriers and Treats
3.2.4 Challenges
3.3 E-Retailing
3.3.1 Online Retailing
3.3.2 Requirements and elements for E-Retailer commerce
3.4 Agents, intelligence agents and technology
3.5 The Customer led E-Business
3.6 The E-Retailer site development process and project management
3.6.1 The E-Retailer Web development process
3.6.2 Team and skills
3.7 The E-Retailer and Promotion
3.8 Competitive Intelligence and Market Research on the Internet
3.9 Summary




Competetive Intelligence and Market Research on the Internet


The E-Retailer needs to conduct market research for several reasons. The E-Retailer may want to monitor the customers and competitive activities, stay on top of industry events, analyse new business opportunities, or search out a strategic alliance partner in another country.

The Internet can be a powerful resource for achieving these objectives. The problem is that there is a huge amount of information, but it is often difficult to find the content they are looking for.


The biggest pool of knowledge on the entire Internet can be found in the minds of all Internet users. The key to this knowledge base lies in the E-Retailers capability to tap it.

This entire base of knowledge can be accessed via discussion groups and e-mail notes. There are more than 100,000 discussion groups in existence, with millions of participants.


According to Forrest (1999: 1): “Businesses need the right information about the right customers at the right time to make the right decisions” Marketing Research plays a critical role in facilitating an understanding of how customers, competitors and market forces impact on a business.”

On the Internet the E-Retailer needs answers on questions like:

  • How big are the E-Retailers market for their products
  • Who are the E-Retailers competitors
  • How can the E-Retailers advertise and publicize more effectively?
  • Who are the E-Retailers prospects?
  • Who are the E-Retailers customers?
  • What kinds of people buy the products, and those of the competitors?
  • What are their demographic and psychographic profiles?
  • How are the environmental force impacts on the E-Retailers decision?




To answer such questions, the E-Retailer has to monitor and scan the Internet and other sources.


Monitoring and scanning the surroundings should be an ongoing activity for the E-Retailers


At a minimum they should constantly:

  • Scan their environment
  • Assess the situation
  • Analyse the structure of the market
  • Profile the customer
  • Monitor the competitors
  • React to the environmental challenges
  • And evaluate tactics & promotional strategies





According to Basch and Bates (2000:194) business intelligence takes on many forms, depending on what the E-Retailers hoping to accomplish.


The main forms are:

  • Companies backgrounds
  • Competitive intelligence
  • Market studies
  • Sales prospecting
  • Stocks and investment research
  • Management theory and practice



Forrest (1999) presents the following key marketing research applications:

  • Personal Intelligence
  • Environmental Intelligence
  • Customer intelligence
  • Competitive intelligence
  • Internet survey
  • Newsgroups and E-Mail lists
  • Online focus groups / product and copy testing



The Internet can be used to conduct primary and secondary research, both quantitative and qualitative. In particular, it can be used to:

  • Collect demographics and psychgraphics
  • Research and identify target markets
  • Try out new ideas and test E-Customer response to new products.
  • Access information about competitors, their products and services
  • Obtain instant feedback from the E-Customer. What they like, dislike. Further suggestion for improvement and potential problems.
  • The E-Retailer could obtain feedback on the web Site. Whether they like the web Site or not and how the Web Site could be improved.



The benefits of conducting Internet Marketing Intelligence on the Internet include:

  • The ability to survey much wider audiences more cheaply than trough traditional methods.
  • Information can be obtained 24 hours a day
  • Survey on the Web can easily be changed or added to at no extra cost
  • Data can be very quickly converted into a database or statistical package making it instantly available for reporting



The Internet can be used to collect primary research on just about any topic.


The E-Retailer could use interactive forms to enable users to interact with the web site:

  • Ask questions about the web site
  • Solicit information from the customers concerning the product or services
  • Find out more about the customers



The E-Retailer could use:

  • On-line panel research
  • Online focus groups
  • Market research via e-mail
  • Market Research via Newsgroups


In order to conduct primary research, the E-Retailers should complete a number of steps:

  • Define the ideal target market they would like to research.
  • Identify the discussion groups their target market might be participating in.
  • Identify the topics they might be discussing.
  • Search Usenet discussion group topic lists, content to find their target market.
  • Search e-mail discussion group topic lists to find their target market.



There are several specific approaches the E-Retailers can take for conducting a primary research survey on the Internet:


  • Post a detailed survey to several discussion groups
  • Post strategic queries to a few relevant discussion groups.
  • Post a detailed survey at their Web site.
  • Post strategic queries’ at their Web site.
  • Post relevant content to discussion groups with a pointer to the survey at their Web site.



Through discussion group involvement, participants may be able to help:

  • Critique the E-Retailer’s marketing strategy.
  • Critique the E-Retailer’s Internet marketing strategy.
  • Critique specific marketing campaigns.
  • Give the E-Retailer ideas for different marketing approaches.
  • Give E-Retailer ideas for new business opportunities.



The most basic and direct marketing research data available to the E-Retailer using the Internet can be had through analyses of one’s own email & web-site visitor tracking. From the outset, the E-Retailer should set-up mechanisms and methods for capturing and evaluating the on-going on-line information that is inherently provided to the E-Retailer by the correspondence with the Internet constituency and visitors to the E-Retailer Web site:
Secondary market research is research that has already been completed by other organisations or government agencies. The Internet contains a wealth of secondary market research. The World Wide Web is quickly becoming central for research on just about any topic. Information is power. The E-Retailers needs all kinds of marketing information to improve the ability to make decisions and to succeed. The E-Retailers can use the Internet to gain competitive advantage by improving their information system and market research strategies.


If the E-Retailer need to conduct research regarding the demographics of Internet users, several research studies have been completed. Valid population demographic statistics are an important aspect of market research. This is especially important for companies entering new markets. The Web contains a wealth of information for countries around the world.

The Internet can also be used to research patents and trademarks. This may be important if the E-Retailers is considering applying for a particular patent, or for other reasons.


Email Analyses is the most direct form of Internet marketing research and also the most simple. If the E-Retailer conducts email correspondence can be recorded to reveal patterns and trends. Recording message subjects and preparing a simple daily report can reveal much more. Since email is such a quick response medium, this can be a surprisingly fast way to identify problems as well as new opportunities.

Through web site visitor tracking software the E-Retailer can get a lot of important and valuable information.


There are a lot of valuable sources for conducting Intelligence on the Internet within the field of:

  • General intelligence
  • Market and technology intelligence
  • Company intelligence
  • Environmental intelligence
  • Customer intelligence
  • Competitor Intelligence




It is critical for the E-Retailer both to be aware of all the possibilities and efficiently make use of the tools available. But the most important thing is to do business intelligence before the retailers think about how to build an E-Business. It is crucial to understand what is going on in the digital world, before the process with building an e-Retailer commerce site starts. This point is unfortunately the literature not stating strong enough. And most of the retailers are also doing a poor job here before they are starting going online.

Download Dissertation


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