How we conducted market research for the expansion of an online shop to Romania

If the home ecommerce market is already too small for you, and you are considering expanding your online shop abroad, then you will definitely be wondering which country to enter. A good quality survey of the countries of interest is a must. After all, it doesn’t make sense to invest in expansion if you do not have a detailed idea of the market potential in the country of interest.

When analysing the market of a country, there are basically two ways to acquire the required information:

A) Market research based on available data (secondary research, so‑called desk research)

In this case, you work rigorously to find relevant data, compare the critical metrics of the individual markets, analyse the competition, read forecasts of future developments, and visualise the information obtained to avoid being overwhelmed.

A secondary survey often comes first because it processes existing data. However, when you run out of data, that’s when you have to begin to fulfil the need for primary data.

B) Market research by questioning (primary research, so‑called field research)

Once you have a basic overview of selected countries, it’s time to focus on the primary data. These can be obtained in a number of ways  from a questionnaire survey to group interviews.

The fastest and most effective method of research is questioning. That is why we choose this form most often when researching foreign markets. Online shop operators therefore receive quick feedback directly from their customers, suppliers or business partners. We usually combine email questionnaires and telephone enquiries.

However, it is important to keep in mind that the basis of any good quality survey depends on the specification of why you want to conduct the survey and what you expect from it. Only then can you start to compile questions and create a questionnaire or an accompanying telephone call script.

Read how we conducted market research for an online shop selling used Dell computer technology

Good preparation is crucial

Market research is a complex process and difficult task to carry out, with much attention needing to be paid to the preparations. After all, any omission or gap in thinking is very difficult to subsequently correct in the implementation phase. The preparatory work can be divided into several phases:

Research assignment

Why does the company need to do research and where should the focus lie? Who is the target group? What hypotheses (assumptions) does the company want to test? What is the budget for the research and what is the desired output? These are all questions we needed to know the answers to in order to be able to move forward.

Compilation of company presentation, questionnaire for potential partners and telephone script

Before starting the research, it is necessary to have all the sources prepared and tested by test respondents. In this case, the source documents were prepared in Czech and, once the wording had been approved by the client, were subsequently translated into Romanian.

Selection of a suitable interviewer

It is important to be aware of the fact that the interviewer can have an influence on the respondent’s answers. For example, if the interviewer is impatient, the respondents may not have time to think twice about their answers. For this reason, our interviewers must be able to communicate actively and are encouraged to be thorough. In this case, the interviewer’s task was not only to question respondents, but also to fill in questionnaires and send accompanying e‑mails. It was therefore necessary to train the interviewers, provide them with detailed instructions, and monitor and check the interim results.

Compiling a list of respondents

When it comes to foreign markets, identifying target groups can be a major challenge. Cultural differences play a role, and even within Europe, customer behaviour and preferences vary from country to country.

The selection of companies to be contacted was drawn up by the sponsor of the research. There were 40 sellers of computer technology. To obtain the most objective results possible, the list included both sellers of used equipment and sellers of only new IT equipment.

Positive result of a combination of telephone and e-mail enquiries

The questioning itself took place during pre‑defined hours of the day. The goal of the timing was to maximise the time respondents spent with the interviewer. The output of the research was a list of all the respondents, their degree of interest in cooperation, and completed questionnaires. The high quality of the selected interviewers and the appropriate timing of the questioning helped to ensure that 63% of the companies contacted were interested in cooperation.

Questioning in mother tongue was the key to success

Choosing a native speaker of Romanian to conduct the survey had a positive effect. Although some respondents were able to communicate in English, the choice of Romanian was the right one for the initial questioning and to build trust. Communication in their native language is much easier for Romanians, which had a positive effect on their willingness to listen to the offer of cooperation. At the same time, possible misunderstandings or inaccuracies in understanding were avoided.

We also applied market research to other customers

Manufacturer of whirlpools and massage bathtubs

On the basis of telephone enquiries, we searched Romania for suitable manufacturers and suppliers of leather thermal covers for these products. The result of the market research was a list of found and contacted suppliers, divided according to their degree of interest in cooperation. Some respondents were excluded because they did not meet the quality requirements of the sponsor of the research. The output also included copies of all e-mail communications. The manufacturer was therefore able to follow up on the initial communication with selected partners and agree on specific terms of cooperation.

Foreign seller of gardening and DIY (Do-It-Yourself) supplies

On the basis of a combination of telephone enquiries and an online questionnaire, we conducted market research of more than 200 representatives of target groups identified by the customer. The result was not only valuable knowledge about the composition of the product range of the considered online shop, but also the method of ordering, delivery and other functional elements and processes of online store.

Are you considering expanding your online shop abroad, and would you like to check the preliminary interest in your products and services? Then contact us. We can conduct research of the selected market on your behalf to help you decide which country to direct your future business to.

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