Business Research Report

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HandyGear Internet Expansion 2013

 

Executive Summary

 

Handygear has been a retail marketer of quality goods for many years, but it is showing vulnerability in the competitive environment by not progressing in step with technology by establishing a presence on the World Wide Web. Research included in this report show that three quarters of today’s companies have established themselves on the internet. By not making a strong move into online sales, Handy gear is giving up competitive initiative.

More people use the internet now for shopping than ever before. In fact, more than half of the population of the United States will purchase something online by the end of 2012. The sales potential of the internet is enormous and growing with virtually no limits.

In addition, internet marketing carries inherent advantages. Costs of fulfillment are less than for traditional retail outlets since all interaction occurs online, including the transaction. This holds true throughout the customer relationship. Everything about the consumer’s experience happens on one website from initial shopping research to post sale service. If the customer requires a more visceral experience, he can then simply go to one of our stores after the online contact is made.

There are many ways to advertise on the internet and research will be required to determine what will work best for the company. Professional services needs to be secured for the development of a successful website and marketing campaign along with a budget and necessary logistics. Goals and benchmarks need to be created by executive management to ensure success.

The potential of online sales cannot be overemphasized. An online expansion will increase sales revenue and brand recognition while at the same time ensuring continued competitiveness in the market. This expansion will benefit all stakeholders in Handygear.

 

 

 

 

Introduction

When this company began the only options people had to purchase merchandise was to go to a store or order through a catalog. Over the years, Handygear built up an extensive network of high quality retail establishments around the country to serve the market. The company never invested much in catalog or direct sales, preferring to base our business model on the more traditional form of face-to-face merchandising through established storefronts.

Handygear has become a recognized national chain and its products are used everywhere today. While relying exclusively on retail stores has served us well in the past, times have changed and more than ever customers are looking at the ease and convenience of internet shopping to buy products and have them delivered direct to their homes or work.

On the surface it seems much like catalog sales but it has evolved to become so much more than that. The internet today has become so widespread as to be considered ubiquitous. People can access the internet for shopping or browsing practically anywhere today on a host of portable devices with wireless networks available in many places and cellular service where they are not. In addition, at home consumers can now access the internet from personal computers and even their televisions at speeds faster than ever.

What this has created is a virtual marketplace that is practically limitless with the ability to reach far more consumers than any retail outlet. The possibilities of online marketing can no longer be ignored. In response, The Chief Marketing Officer has directed Assistant Marketing Manager Chris Whiteman to prepare an investigative report into a possible expansion by Handygear into online marketing for presentation to the Board of Directors.

Overall, this report will provide information on marketing opportunities available on the internet to enable the board to make an educated decision whether to invest in a virtual marketplace. It will do this by first presenting the main advantages and disadvantages of online marketing. It will then explore the potential profits and increased volume associated with an online expansion. After that, basic first steps will be explained to create a successful online presence and marketing campaign.

After all this research is presented, a set of recommendations will be given based on the knowledge gained for the board to consider.

 

 

 

Research Findings

The internet is vast and complicated. There exist many ways to reach consumers, not all of them applicable to marketing Handygear products. The same is true of sales. The medium itself can be daunting to establish a successful presence. From investigating many credible sources, three main points of relevance emerge to consider: 1) Overall advantages and disadvantages of online marketing; 2) the potential impact of online sales to the company; 3) what are the basic requirements of a successful online marketing campaign.

 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Marketing

More people use the internet today than ever before. Along with that comes a rise in the number of people that use the internet to shop. The internet has created opportunities for consumer interaction previously unimaginable. A 2011 book by authors Hamish Pringle and Jim Marshall called “Spending advertising money in the digital age: how to navigate the media flow” put it best in the introduction to the chapter about the internet:

What sets the internet apart from other media is its unique place within the purchase path and its ability to take the user from the initial point of interest right through to the sale, and thereafter to online customer service and electronic customer relationship management (eCRM). (Ch. 18)

This new marketing avenue carries with it a number of additional advantages as well, foremost among them being reduced costs associated with getting products to the consumers hand and a virtually limitless population to which to advertise. Other advantages include the ability to collect data on customers to target future marketing efforts more precisely, measuring product performance as well as allowing customers interactive sales experiences to increase satisfaction (Advantages & Disadvantages of eMarketing, n.d).

Online marketing is not without its risks, however. One common disadvantage is the lack of face-to-face experience. The field of online marketing is also complex and constantly evolving. This environment can make it difficult to track statistics on sales and return on investment, as well as other metrics such as site traffic and customer satisfaction (Long, 2011)

Analysis:  The potential of online marketing is vast beyond measure and simply cannot be ignored. The advantages to the company can be enormous in terms of increased sales and brand recognition. Obvious disadvantages are mitigated by securing professional services in development of sales, marketing plans and website design. Additionally, customers can use online resources to educate themselves about the products and then purchase them at one of our retail outlets, if they are inclined toward a more perceptual experience.

 

Potential Impact of Online Sales to Handygear

By the end of 2012, more than three quarters of the United States will be internet users. This means that, today, three out of every four people go online regularly; and this number will continue to climb. Of those people, nearly 200 million of them will shop online with 150 million going on to purchase products online. This means that roughly half of the American population will look to the internet and online marketing and advertising for purchasing consumer goods (Vaughan, 2012).

At the same time, additional statistics are showing traditional “brick and mortar” retail establishments sales have showed little to no growth in the past several years while online sales have grown steadily and are predicted to reach annual volume of 270 billion dollars by 2015 (Making it click, 2012). These figures show that the potential profits from establishing an online retail presence can be enormous.

In addition to realizing high increases in sales volume from moving into the virtual world, it may also prove to be necessary in order to remain relevant within the market. A 2008 study by the Federation of Small Business found that over three quarters of businesses had established a web presence. This high percentage clearly indicates that in order to remain competitive in today’s retail markets, a web presence must be established (Brychen & Simmons, 2010, Ch. 8).

Analysis:  Looking at these facts together shows that online sales could be enormously successful for the company and its stakeholders in terms of not only sales volume, but ensuring the Handygear brand continues to be well known in the changing environment of today’s retail markets. Not only that, but it must be noted that, given the high volume of retailers already on the internet, failure to establish a web presence would be surrendering the competitive initiative and could hurt the company overall.

 

Requirements for a Successful Online Marketing Campaign

A major advantage in developing an online marketing campaign Handygear has is a clearly defined product line that already sells in traditional markets and enjoys national brand recognition. In essence, all that needs to be done is to shift the sales to a virtual market environment. That being said, the development of a successful internet marketing campaign will be initially complex and will require constant monitoring as it continues to grow.

The first step needs to be a goal-setting session conducted by executive management in consultation with IT to establish clear priorities and targets for the marketing plan. The results of this will become the objectives for how the online campaign is constructed and executed (Successful Internet Marketing Begin with Goals, 2011).

Once goals have been established, a new marketing plan independent of the main marketing plan will need to be created and a web site constructed. Even though the product line will be the same as the company’s traditional retail stores, the new plan needs to approach emarketing as its own entity, developing a SWOT analysis and Porter’s five forces model specifically for the new market (Tanner, Raymond, & McLean, 2011, Ch. 16).

Many different avenues exist for advertising on the internet and research will need to be conducted to determine what will work best for the company. Options exist for everything from mass banner advertising and search-engine optimization to individualized e-mail marketing.   Once the campaign begins, testing and customer research will have to become an ongoing process (Eley & Tilley, 2009).

After that, benchmarks need to be established for monitoring these goals to ensure success and determine a timeline for expansion. As the campaign unfolds, contingency plans will be needed to provide for changes in case any of the benchmarks are not being met (Baxter, n.d.).

Analysis:  Setting up a successful online marketing campaign will be structurally similar to setting up a typical campaign; it will just require accommodation for the virtual environment. This will include the construction of a web site and research into the various means available for marketing on the internet. Securing the services of professionals skilled in this environment will be required by either employment or contract.

 

Recommendations

Overall, it is in the best interest of the company to expand into online sales. In addition to increased sales volume, the internet advertising and brand recognition could benefit all aspects of the company.

  1. Recommendation One: Secure the services of internet professionals, beginning with web designers and marketing specialists and may include others as planning progresses.
  2. Recommendation Two:  Establish goals and objectives for an advertising campaign and create a marketing plan. Provide for logistics, fulfillment and budget.
  3.  Recommendation Three: Construct a website and execute marketing plan while monitoring established benchmarks, making changes as necessary.

Conclusion

Internet use today is at the highest level it has even been and is growing. As the internet grows, online retail sales grow with it. Online sales are forecast to continue growth while traditional sales forecasts remain relatively flat. Online sales include other benefits such as decreased costs associated with fulfillment and a single environment for sales from initial shopping to post-sale customer service.

It will require a considerable amount of work and investment to create an online presence. This will include the addition of professional staff and office facilities. In the end, the increase in volume and brand recognition will benefit the company with increased volume and ensure it remains viable within the market.

References

Baxter, S. (n.d.). Successful Online Marketing Campaign. Retrieved from: http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/successful-online-marketing-campaign/

Brychan, T. & Simmons, G. (2010). E-commerce adoption and small business in the global marketplace: tools for optimization. [Books24x7 version]  Retrieved from: http://common.books24x7.com/toc.aspx?bookid=34039

Eley, B. & Tilley, S. (2009). Online marketing inside out. [Books24x7 version] Retrieved from: http://common.books24x7.com/toc.aspx?bookid=32371

Long, M. (2011). Potential Disadvantages of Online Marketing. Retrieved from: http://suite101.com/article/potential-disadvantages-of-online-marketing-a330378

Pringle, H. & Marshall, J. (2011). Spending advertising money in the digital age: how to navigate the media flow. [Books24x7 version] Retrieved from: http://common.books24x7.com/toc.aspx?bookid=44811

Tanner, J.F, Jr., Raymond, M.A., McLean, S. (2011). Principles of marketing and business communication (Version 1.0.1).  Retrieved from:  https://wsdi1.wgu.edu/cos/courses/23640?code=MKC1&

The Economist. (2012). Making it click. Retrieved from: http://www.economist.com/node/21548236

Traffic. (n.d). Advantages & Disadvantages of eMarketing. Retrieved from: http://www.wewanttraffic.com/ebusiness/emarketing/advantages.aspx

Vaughan, P. (2012).  25 Eye-Popping Internet Marketing Statistics for 2012. Retrieved from: http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/30495/25-Eye-Popping-Internet-Marketing-Statistics-for-2012.aspx

Web Savvy Marketing. (2011). Successful Internet Marketing Begin with Goals. Retrieved from: http://www.web-savvy-marketing.com/2011/01/successful-internet-marketing-campaigns-begin-with-goals/