Once you have identified what you need to know about your customers you can start gathering the information together.
There is a huge amount of market information available that you can tap into. Much of that information is available free of charge and is readily available. For example, your customer records will tell you:
- which customers have purchased from you
- what they purchased
- when they placed their orders
- how much and how often they buy
Read more about customer relationship management.
If your current data doesn't provide you with the information you need, it is often worth asking customers directly. You can do this in face-to-face or telephone interviews, online surveys or in group discussions. See plan your field research.
Other sources of free customer information include:
- business contacts
- local business reference libraries
- your local council
- Invest Northern Ireland
- the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce
- Local chambers of commerce
- Department for International Trade for information on export markets
Get free access to business directories and market research information from:
Buying market resources
If you can't find the information you need from these free sources, you might decide to buy the information. There is a huge amount of information that you can purchase direct from market information publishers. Alternatively, you might decide to employ a market research agency or freelance researcher to get the information you need. It can be more cost-effective to use the services of a professional, although you will need to ensure you draw up a clear brief and budget.
Know your legal responsibilities
- Do you need a licence?
- Get the right business insurance
- Comply with the law when providing goods and services
- Know your customers' rights
- Distance and online selling rules
- Understand pricing legislation
- Buying goods from outside NI
- Selling goods outside NI
- GDPR compliance checklist
- Pay your business rates
- Understand staff contracts and your responsibilities
- Taking on contractors and subcontractors
- Health and safety basics for business
- Know your legal obligations on pensions
Understand tax and VAT
Sell and market your products or services