Ask SCORE: Consult reputable web sources for market research - Business - Savannah Morning News

Ask SCORE: Consult reputable web sources for market research – Business – Savannah Morning News

Whether you plan a traditional “brick and mortar” store or an internet store there are certain things you need to know before launching your new business. Use the Internet to do basic market research on:

Your industry
Your target customer
Your competition

This will allow you to develop sales estimates and forecasts based on research already available on line.

Your industry

Retail covers many areas, so you will need to determine the specific type of retail you are interested in for you marketing effort.

A most useful website is the North American Industry Classification System and the NAICS Association at With it you can find the code that covers your particular business. For example, if you wanted to open a postal business center, go to the website above and do a key word search such as “ private postal center “ You will find the NAICS code is 561431.With this number you can research a wealth of marketing information about mail centers.

Target customer

Customer profiles are usually stated in terms of their demographics. An example of a customer profile for cosmetics might be female, age 18 to 40. If you define your marketing space as Pooler, you would want to know how many possible buyers in this group live in Pooler. One good source is Looking at this website we find that there are 3,862 females in this age category or 18.3 percent of the total population of 21,137.

Another good resource is which has statistics for all cities and population centers in the United States. If we expanded the previous example and wanted to know the level of education in the area we can look at Quick Facts on the Census site and find 36.6 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Your competition

Many people respond to the question of who are your competitors by saying they’re not sure. Not good. You really need to know. A good site to find out about your competition is This is a business intelligence service and it’s free. If we wanted to open a barbecue restaurant and needed to know how many already exist in Pooler, we’d go to Size Up and follow the instructions to find out about competitors. You will find there are already seven restaurants, their names and locations, offering barbecue. A good step would be to visit each restaurant and find out all you can about the business and their operations.

Another area of concern for startups is estimating sales. Using Google, type in trade associations for the industry you are interested in. For example, if you are opening a running shoe and clothing store, search for trade associations with the keywords from that industry. You will get many “hits” including National Shoe Retailers Association. These trade groups usually have sales data available showing annual sales and expense ratios needed to develop sales forecasts and budgets.

Using this information will help you develop a sound business plan and a workable sales strategy to start and grow your business. To more fully explore these marketing tools, or discuss other business issues, call for a confidential appointment with a SCORE business mentor at (912)-652-4335 and visit our web page at

Gary Johnson has been a certified SCORE mentor since 2011, and a past president of the Savannah chapter. He has also served as a SCORE Assistant District Director for Georgia.

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