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Starting an Online Business All-in-One For Dummies®, 3rd Edition by Joel Elad, Shannon Belew

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Anticipating Customer Needs

Veteran business owners can tell you that to succeed, your goal should be to not just meet your customer's expectations but to also anticipate and respond to those expectations. Online retailers are no different: You need to read buyers' minds and figure out what they want so that you have the products to meet their demand — rather than watch your competition make off with your customers and your revenue.

You have a few ways to figure out what your customers want:

  • Take a look at your sales data. Watch the purchases made through your business, to see who's buying what and how much customers are spending per order.
  • Monitor your customers' questions. Whether customers communicate by e-mail, phone, Facebook or Twitter posts, or a Web form, if they're starting to ask for similar products, investigate!
  • Check out your competition. See what other sites are providing, putting on sale, raising prices on, and carrying in their stores.
  • Look at other resources that talk about your product lines. See what Web sites are promoting or hyping as “the next great thing” (see Figure 4-3). Read magazines, books, and newspapers, and watch TV shows about your product areas, to see what people are talking about, preparing for, and predicting for that industry.

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    Figure 4-3: Stay informed on subjects in your product area.

  • Go to trade groups, conventions, or organizations. Attend ...

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