I delivered a lecture recently on Internet Marketing in Lugano, Switzerland. Having traveled to Europe on many occasions, I am always struck by just how great it is to visit and how different their day-to-day life is relative to the United States in some subtle ways.
Examples of those distinctions range from the fact that everybody smokes cigarettes everywhere, to the notion that you have to pay to use the toilets in the Zurich train station.
I just came back from DM Days in NYC last week and another contrast became apparent to me. The soft pretzels available from street vendors were so much better in Zurich/Lugano than in New York. It's not even close in terms of both freshness and variety. I consider myself to be a soft pretzel connoisseur and in a general sense find it tough to locate ones that meet my expectations.
With this as a backdrop, I spent some time over the weekend searching the internet to find a company from which I could order soft pretzels and in particular the sunflower seed variety that so enchanted me in Switzerland. My search was completely in vain as there were virtually no sites marketing for soft pretzel-related terms and the ones that showed up, didn't hold the mustard.
I began to sense a business opportunity. What are some attributes that I believe contribute to a product being a viable fit for ecommerce? Ingredients include a niche application, lack of credible competition, high margins and the potential for a long-term customer relationship. Lastly, there has to be demand for the product or a path toward nurturing it (through education, public relations, viral marketing, etc.). The demand for these pretzels is questionable, but I believe that it exists at least latently; have you been to the concession stand at a sporting event lately?
The moral of my story is two-fold. Each of us probably has a "pretzel moment" from time to time. In other words, we stumble across potential inefficiencies in a marketplace that may be able to be converted into a viable business opportunity. The internet can be an incredible platform and incubator for such ideas. Take a chance and test something when it stands up to basic scrutiny and is exciting to you.
Secondly, I am serious about the title of this article. If you own a bakery or know someone who does, I would like to chat further about my soft pretzel concept. I believe it has tremendous potential.