Chapter 3: Empirical part
Part 1: Company description:
The company involves buying and selling authentic pre-owned luxury items. The location of the pre-owned luxury market is Lebanon which deals with a pre-used luxury products such as Handbags, unisex clothing and shoes, fashion jewelry, sunglasses and watches under different luxury brands.
They accept new or used items that are free of significant defects and with authentic serial numbers and in case of items that has been repaired or dyed, it must have been done at a factory authorized repair center.
The business accept cash payments, bank wire transfer, or by credit cards.
The mission of the company is to provide the experience of living a luxurious lifestyle by making expensive luxury products more affordable in the market.
The company was established with the following objectives and guiding principles in mind:
Being a trustworthy provider of used luxury goods.
Guaranteeing the authenticity of the products.
Offering a full refund for items that customers suspect are unauthentic.
Provide a way for owners and sellers to sell or trade-in their luxury items in a trusted environment.
The operations will be mainly online and by delivery but customers can visit the store.Location: Hazmieh region near pain d’ordue to the importance of the region, the building is hidden since people don’t like to be seen entering the store to maintain a certain image.
Part 2: Qualitative Research vs. Quantitative Research.
Qualitative Research is primarily exploratory research. It is used to gain an understanding of underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations. It provides insights into the problem or helps to develop ideas or hypotheses for potential quantitative research. Qualitative Research is also used to uncover trends in thought and opinions, and dive deeper into the problem. Qualitative data collection methods vary using unstructured or semi-structured techniques. Some common methods include focus groups (group discussions), individual interviews, and participation/observations. The sample size is typically small, and respondents are selected to fulfill a given quota.
While Quantitative Research is used to quantify the problem by way of generating numerical data or data that can be transformed into useable statistics. It is used to quantify attitudes, opinions, behaviors, and other defined variables – and generalize results from a larger sample population. Quantitative Research uses measurable data to formulate facts and uncover patterns in research. Quantitative data collection methods are much more structured than Qualitative data collection methods. Quantitative data collection methods include various forms of surveys – online surveys, paper surveys, mobile surveys and kiosk surveys, face-to-face interviews, telephone interviews, longitudinal studies, website interceptors, online polls, and systematic observations.
In this research, our primary focus will be on qualitative research, in which the sample of the research will be very small, and the main goal will be to gain an understanding about the business, and the goals, opinions and motivations of the business owner. Another goal of this qualitative research will be to reveal future thoughts and opinions regarding where the business is headed. This qualitative research will be mainly conducted through a thorough and detailed interview with the business owner.
Part 3: Primary and Secondary data
The difference between primary and second research collection is that primary research data collection involves conducting research oneself, or using the data for the purpose it was intended for. Secondary research data, on the other hand, was collected by a third party or for some other purpose.
Primary data can be collected by someone in the organization. This person has to have a clear plan for conducting research, including specific research questions and methodology. The data that is collected is used for its intended purpose.
Although there are many different ways to classify designs, one that gives a clear overview of the various procedures is based on three methods of generating primary data: experimentation, observation, and survey.
Secondary data might actually be the product of other research, or might have been collected by someone else. Unlike primary data, secondary data is not tightly controlled by the researcher. The process has already happened, or the data was collected for a different purpose.
To determine the data sources for the research project, an assessment must first be made of the amount and type of data presently available. These data are called secondary data.
Data collection: Definition
Data collection is the systematic approach to gathering and measuring information from a variety of sources to get a complete and accurate picture of an area of interest. Data collection enables a person or organization to answer relevant questions, evaluate outcomes and make predictions about future probabilities and trends.
Accurate data collection is essential to maintaining the integrity of research, making informed business decisions and ensuring quality assurance. For example, in retail sales, data might be collected from mobile applications, website visits, loyalty programs and online surveys to learn more about customers. In a server consolidation project, data collection would include not just a physical inventory of all servers, but also an exact description of what is installed on each server — the operating system, middleware and the application or database that the server supports.
Data collection methods
Surveys, interviews and focus groups are primary instruments for collecting information. Today, with help from Web and analytics tools, organizations are also able to collect data from mobile devices, website traffic, server activity and other relevant sources, depending on the project. Big data describes voluminous amounts of structured, semi-structured and unstructured data collected by organizations.
Three concepts come with big data : structured, semi structured and unstructured data.
For researchers and developers structured data is very banal. It concerns all data which can be stored in database in a table with rows and columns. They have relational key and can be easily mapped into pre-designed fields. Today, those data are the most processed in development and the simplest way to manage information.
But structured data’s represent only 5 to 10% of all informatics data’s. So let’s introduce semi structured data.
Semi structured data
Semi-structured data is information that doesn’t reside in a relational database but that does have some organizational properties that make it easier to analyze. With some process you can store them in relation database (it could be very hard for some kind of semi structured data), but the semi structure exists to ease space, clarity or compute…
But as Structured data, semi structured data represents a few parts of data (5 to 10%) so the last data type is the strong one: unstructured data.
Unstructured data represent around 80% of data. It often includes text and multimedia content. Examples include e-mail messages, word processing documents, videos, photos, audio files, presentations, webpages and many other kinds of business documents. Note that while these sorts of files may have an internal structure, they are still considered « unstructured » because the data they contain doesn’t fit neatly in a database.
Definition of a survey:
There are a lot of ways to conduct research and collect information, but one way that makes it really easy is by doing a survey. A survey is defined as a brief interview or discussion with individuals about a specific topic.
Here are the three specific techniques of survey research:
Questionnaires – a series of written questions a participant answers. This method gathers responses to questions that are essay or agree/neutral/disagree style.
Interviews – questions posed to an individual to obtain information about him or her. This type of survey is like a job interview, with one person asking another a load of questions.
Surveys – brief interviews and discussions with individuals about a specific topic. Yes, survey is also a specific type of survey, to make things even more confusing. A survey is a quick interview, with the surveyor asking only a few questions.
In this research, we will use surveys as a main method to collect data, since our focus will be on having a better and detailed understanding about the business and the goals, opinions and motivations of the business owner.
1)- The only mean we use to communicate and promote our products to customers is through online channels, since our whole business is conducted online and all transactions done are through the internet. The reason for the sole use of online business is the very small showroom we have that would make it inconvenient for customers to stop by it and have a pleasant shopping experience.
2)- Since our whole business is built and done online, naturally we use social media as a very important channel in introducing products to the market place. Our main focus is on instagram and Facebook since they are the most used and wide spread applications in Lebanon. Another important method we use to communicate with our existing customers is through E-mail, as it is used to notify customers about any new updates and products as soon as they arrive.
3)- How do you differentiate yourself from competitors in this very competitive market place?
There is a number of key factors we use in order to have a competitive advantage over our competitors, some of these factors are:
Low charge cost for non-purchasing items and low transaction costs: We charge a low 30% commission compared to the typical 50% you find in most consignment stores. Additional transaction fees including credit card fees, PayPal fees, and marketing fees are also covered.
Consigned items are Guaranteed Authentic. We back every item that we sell to be Guaranteed Authentic. This attracts more buyers because they feel confident that every item listed for sale on our website is 100% authentic.
Best in class customer service and return policy: Our 30-day money back guarantee with hassle-free returns builds confidence in shoppers.
Speed of delivery and customer service.
4)- The competitive strategy used in this small business is the focus differentiation strategy by providing superior service and unique items that serve a narrow market by satisfying their needs, wants and desires at a lower price and giving them the opportunity to experience a high-end lifestyle.
5)- The customers are more motivated to buy from our shops based on our lower prices, free delivery on purchased items and for the real quality that my reinforce living the experience of high lifestyle.
6)- Due to research done, it was shown that our customers are mostly females, and are aged between 18 to 65. Regarding the household revenue, it was recorded that the revenue were between 50000$ and 80000$ annually. Also it was noted that most customers at least had a college education and had a high and luxuries lifestyle.
7)- A commission of 30% of the purchase value for items below 1000$, and then 20% for items over 1000$.
According to the survey made with the owner of the business, it’s been noted that the sole mean of promoting products was through internet and online channels. The most used online channels were instagram and facebook, with the help of E-mail as a method for notifying and communicating with existing customers. As noted by the owner, one of the main factors in differentiating the company from others was the low commission rate, another was that every item was guaranteed authentic, speed of delivery and customer service. The manager also said that the main business strategy used by the company was the focus differentiation strategy that focuses on a narrow market. Another important point made by the owner was the specificity of the target market, as it was characterized by a number of variables. The pricing strategy used by the owner was based on a commission of 30% of the purchase value of items below 1000$ and then 20% for items over 1000$.
After the analysis of the given information from the owner of the business, it became clear that there is a big need for developing a new and more convenient showroom for customers. Another option is to build an actual store for customers to have a pleasant shopping experience. Also, the owner should think about building an online website to make his business more professional and authentic. Finally, the owner must think about expanding his market outside of Lebanon, at least delivering to the Middle Eastern countries.