Business Research

I have stared doing some research for our business and I find the whole ordeal rather exhausting. Currently, I am looking at competitor's products so that we can get an idea of how saturated the market is, what features everyone has, what ones are "new" features, what price companies are charging, etc. I am crawling a lot of poorly written business sites and reading promotional materials.

There are several things that make this process somewhat difficult. Because the sites that we are looking at are not well designed, it is hard to find the information that we need. Seriously, the majority of the websites look like they were made in the 90s or were made by the CEO's nephew. They also do not use consistent language when talking about features, so at a glance, it is not always easy to tell if two sites are referring to the same thing.

It seems to be a standard thing to not have your pricing listed on your website. All of them seem to want potential customers to "call for a quote". I have seen this practice in other software areas and while it allows price discrimination, I think that it is bad user experience. Often, the user will have cost as a requirement for the software that they are looking for. By adding an extra step, you are decreasing the likelihood that the user will follow through and are wasting the users time. I am not sure if you have ever made 20 phone calls, but it takes a long time to get the information you need from such a call. It also limits the time in which the user can make inquiries. On the other hand, they can price their product differently for each customer, which might lead to higher sales overall^1. In any case, it has significantly slowed down our research. How do you call and say, "I am making a competing product. How much should I charge?"? I could pose as a customer, but then I have to make up a backstory for myself-- size of the cemetery, what sort of business we normally do, etc.

We are also not quite sure what features are considered mandatory in this type of software. Because we have only talked to one cemetery manager, we only really know the business processes for one cemetery. It is entirely possible that no one else works like this one does. This one is publicly owned. Does a privately owned cemetery have different record requirements? Do different laws apply to them? In order to figure this out, we will need to talk to some users.