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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds We saw that there was a gap in the market. Obviously, we thought it was a great idea, but we wanted to check that what we were doing was going to be viable. Industry reports showed that there is quite a lot of do-it-yourself maintenance on cars. And back when we started in 2011, we started out with an eBay store, so we’re able to see what sort of parts were the most popular, and therefore, work out what cars were the most popular. This way we can tailor our website and our parts to suit what they’re going to need.

Skip to 0 minutes and 47 seconds We talk a lot with our aftermarket supplies because they’re making the parts. So they know exactly what parts people are asking for, what’s popular, so we’re always in communication with them about what our customer will be needing. We get to understand our customers a lot better through some of the forms on specific European cars. There will be people on there all hours a day, talking about the common problems and also what parts are required when they want to do a certain job. We’ve also got a fairly big database of our customers, and that’s grown over the past four years.

Skip to 1 minute and 30 seconds So there’s a lot of email addresses there that we can target to what they might want just through a flier email. We look at what our competitors are doing all the time and keep an idea about what brands they’re selling and how they’re evolving. We identified who our competitors were by being a virtual customer, and sometimes we’re able to, to build on what we can offer the customer from that. There are some great ideas out there. [BACKGROUND SPEAKING]

Skip to 2 minutes and 8 seconds So when we were deciding to go ahead with the business, we definitely employed some industry reports on the types of trends that the industry’s going through, and it definitely helped us to make the final decision to go ahead and put everything into it. We did research a lot through the social media platforms. Obviously social media is a great place to find information about what their likes, and what they don’t like, and what they love.

Skip to 2 minutes and 45 seconds And you can get so much feedback without having to really spend a cent. It’s all there, and people constantly want to give you their opinion. That’s the number one thing on the internet is people want to give you their opinion all the time. And that’s free, so why not use it. We do use– there are services, online services that you can data mine keywords and what age group. I think it helps if you’re trying to sell something to somebody, and you know nothing about it. Then really, you’re going to have problems, I think.

Types of research

As an online business owner, you may think that research is outside of your budget, or that it will take too long to get the information. Both of those assumptions may not be true. There are many ways to conduct research fast and cost effectively for even the smallest of businesses.

Let’s first start by understanding the two types of research you can undertake:

  • Primary research is research that you conduct yourself to answer a specific problem, issue or question.
  • Secondary research makes use of information that has already gathered by some other party for other purposes and that is publicly available.

As secondary research looks at data and information already gathered, this is often the first type of research you will undertake.

After undertaking thorough research using secondary information, you will then be in a position to identify what you know, what gaps in knowledge you still have, and what further research you need to undertake, using primary research techniques, in order to close those gaps in knowledge.


Think about a time when you’ve needed to find some information for something you didn’t know what or how to do.

Where did you go? Did you ask someone directly for information, or did you search for it online?

It is likely that you undertook both primary and secondary research in the process of trying to understand the problem.

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This video is from the free online course:

Online Business: Customer Profiling for Success

RMIT University