Hot Dragon is a company that provides spicy mustard and hot sauces of various types. The company is going to start offering its hot sauces and spicy mustard online, so it can be directly shipped to customers. That will be more convenient for those customers, since they will not need to be concerned with heading out to a store to buy the products. Instead, all they will need to do is place an order online, and the products will show up at their door. That will also be helpful to the company, because it will not need to have a storefront and pay the overhead that comes with that. The viability of a storefront for a small company is often not realistic, but there is certainly no reason why the company cannot have a web presence (Allison & Kaye, 2005; Tracy, 2000). This often costs much less than a brick and mortar store, and is worth considering for any company that is interested in selling its products easily and efficiently.
With society becoming so global in nature, having a storefront that can only reach people in the local area also does not seem to make nearly as much sense as having a strong, online presence that will be able to provide hot sauces and spicy mustard to people all over the world. As Hot Dragon begins to offer its spicy mustard and hot sauces to customers everywhere, they will be able to be shipped directly to each customer. The sauces and mustards are purchased from various vendors throughout the world, and shipped from the main business location to every customer who orders them. That model makes things quick, easy, and convenient for both the company and the customers, and allows Hot Dragon to purchase from several different vendors in order to keep an interesting and diverse number of products in their inventory of sauces and mustard options.
Companies can make their internet presence known very strongly through the way they use online tools, services, and forms (Bradford & Tarcy, 2000). Hot Dragon will do this, showing that it has a viable business model by addressing an online-only format. Over a five-year period, Hot Dragon plans to become the dominant online company in its industry through the use of strong marketing tactics, good customer service, and products that are always high quality. By shipping the products quickly and charging a fair price for both the products and the shipping, happy customers will keep coming back again and again. People from all over the world can find the products online, buy them, and have them shipped anywhere in the world. The costs of doing this are not prohibitive, and there are more companies moving to online sales today. This is being done in order to keep up with consumer demand, so viability is not a concern. If customers want online shopping, that is what Hot Dragon will give them.
Another reason Hot Dragon wants to sell their hot sauces and spicy mustards online is that it will be easier to introduce new flavors, options, and products. These will not have to be test marketed in specific stores or shipped out to stores and stocked on shelves where there may already not be a lot of room for a particular product. There will be no need to expand storefronts or convince businesses to sell Hot Dragon's products. By utilizing the power of the internet, Hot Dragon can stay focused on the customer and what he or she wants. That is an excellent way for a company to grow, without all the unnecessary trappings that many companies put upon themselves when they create brick-and-mortar locations (Haines, 2004; Pinson, 2004). Selling over the internet is a much better way for Hot Dragon to market what it has to offer, since its products can be used by people all over the world. No matter what kind of food a person likes, there is always something they enjoy that they can put hot sauce or spicy mustard on, and Hot Dragon does not want them to use products from a competitor.
A2. Current Online Competition
Currently, there are several competitors in the hot sauce and spicy mustard market. Two of these -- hotsauce.com and hotsauceworld.com -- already have substantial online presences. This is a problem for Hot Dragon, because it will already be in a weakened position when its website goes live. That comes from the fact that the other two companies already have customer bases. Hot Dragon does not know how large the other companies' customer bases are, but it does know that they have established presences online and they are active in social media. That does not mean that Hot Dragon cannot be successful, but only that the company will be coming from a difficult position at the beginning because it will not have the marketing position its competitors have already attained. Instead of worrying about that or allowing that to stop the company, however, Hot Dragon should focus carefully on what it wants to convey to its customers, and begin with that message.
If a company markets itself, has a good, clean web presence, and is consistent in the message it is sending out to its customers, it will be much more likely to see success (Haines, 2004). Any company that is just starting up online is going to have competition. The strengths of Hot Dragon's competition revolve around the fact that the companies already have a good web presence. People already know who they are. They may have ordered from them in the past and had a good experience, they may have a friend or family member who recommended the company, or they may have read reviews online that have been positive in nature. No matter what the situation, these competing companies are already available to customers. That means that not only will they have a customer base, but that they will show up first in search results because they are more established. Hot Dragon can catch them, though, if the company is willing to put in an effort.
The biggest weaknesses of the current competition are that they do not have as much to offer to customers as Hot Dragon does. With Hot Dragon, there are more sauces than the competitors have, and the spicy mustards mean the company will provide something unique. It may also be a good choice for people who like to try new companies and/or support smaller and start-up types of businesses. People who have tried the competition and either did not have a good experience or could not really get what they wanted also might be more likely to try Hot Dragon, mostly because they will have the opportunity for something new. For people who really like unique hot sauces and spicy mustards from all over the world, it is not possible to head down to the local supermarket and get everything they want. Even more exotic markets will not have the selection that can be found online. Hot Dragon should be aware of its competitors' weaknesses, so it can use those to its advantage as much as possible. Companies that do not exploit competitors' weaknesses often get left behind, as this type of activity is something expected in the business world (Burkhart & Reuss, 1993; Fahey & Narayman, 1986).
Assessing the competition, whether online or offline, is a valuable skill for any company to have. When a company is not sure how to go about that assessment, that company can end up being much farther behind its competition than it would ever hope or expect to be. While that is unfortunate for the company, it keeps the competition strong in the marketplace for companies that are already established. They thrive on what they already have, and on not allowing new competition into the marketplace (Kono, 1994; Kotler, 1986). While that does not necessarily indicate that other companies would be malicious in nature when it comes to new companies, it does indicate that Hot Dragon will need to be internet savvy and well prepared if it is going to become the leading hot sauce website and the "go to" site for hot sauces and spicy mustard within a short, five-year time frame, as planned.
A3. Online Marketing Suggestions and Strategies
In order to be successful in its online endeavors, Hot Dragon will need the proper marketing techniques. The company will want to make sure people understand what it can offer to them, and why they should buy from Hot Dragon instead of its competitors. By being clear on all of that, Hot Dragon will be able to begin building a good online presence. However, there is more to the issue than just telling the customers what the company can do for them. In order to have the proper online marketing strategy, Hot Dragon must be aware of the marketplace and the best ways to reach out…