He who learns but does not think is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.
Your online store might have stopped selling that not so favorite product which was once the top selling. You might have stopped your previous online store and started a new one in order to cater a different market and create a niche. You might have stopped and started the free shipping services on your website several times over and over.
The volatile marketplace of e-commerce is dynamic and breathing. It requires timely changes and quick adaptability from its users (retailers). E-commerce marketplace is an environment that thrives on co-existence. With constant ups and downs, retailers adapt and learn, not only from their own achievements and mistakes, but from other retailers as well. In a marketplace that demands growth, there are no mistakes, only lessons.
And, as they say, experience is the best teacher.
Twitch the perspective about your competitors and you can actually benefit yourselves and learn a thing or two.
What are those things your competitors can teach you about online retail?
Popularity: Find out where you stand. Research about the other popular online retailers in your niche and discover what people are talking about them. Get to know about the customer’s habits and why they like a particular website over others. Compare your website with that of your competitor’s, dig up their USPs, take notes; you will know what is missing on your website.
Website: Next in line is the website layout. This is one of those factors which every online retailer has been a part of: Analyzing competitor’s website layout. Assuming your competitor’s website has a large number of hits and visitors, look for the aspects that make it so popular. Is the website design innovative? Do they have great quality images or minimalistic design? Is the website content witty or professional? Change your website design accordingly and include things that work.
Sales and promotions: Your competitor sells the same product that you do, but his product is selling like hot cakes. Why? Look for the plans and strategies they are using to market those products. Are they providing free shipping more often? Do they have a good promotional offer or a sale running on a certain category? What type of images are they using for the product? Look for what channels your competitors are using to advertise the product, whether it is paid advertising with Google AdWords or digital advertising. Find out what they are using and what they are missing and include them in your business.
Social media presence: Gone are the days when you had the only option to send brochures and newsletters through emails and then wait for the customers to stumble on your website and shop. More than half of your prospective customers are there on social media. Having a strong presence on social media gives a headstart to the online retailer compared to others. Determine your competitor’s social media footprint and look for the ways they are using to enchant the customers. What the customers are saying about the competitors, their likes and dislikes are the primary factors to look out for.
Customer Service: A business is as good as it’s customer service. There is an interesting way you can research about this topic. Try buying a product from their website and be in touch with their customer support. You will get a first-hand experience about their customer service in this manner. Look for what extra steps they are taking to resolve a situation that you have created; in order to analyze worst case scenario, act as a grumpy customer. You will get to know about their policies and procedures about customer service. At the end, if they leave you as a happy customer, you know what to do!
Content: Good content is the prime leader of inbound marketing and there is no denial that customers like good quality content. Find a blog from one of your competitors and scroll through the comment sections. There you will find a John with his reason why he is in love with the blog and a Stephanie saying how informative the content was. Read the comments and figure out what the customers love.
Tools: Almost every other online retailer in e-commerce uses automation to run the business. With correct service providers and tools, your business can reach new heights. Get a thorough review of all the tools that your competitors are using to automate their business. What different plug-ins or extensions are they using? Look for any third party applications they are working with and how is that making them beneficial.
Traffic: With tools like Similarweb you can easily examine traffic on their website. If they have a steady flow of traffic hitting their website, you know they are doing something right. Take tine out to research their website’s SEO and page ranking factors.
Branding: Steady and consistent branding creates a permanent image in your customer’s minds. Marketers know that a good image is everything. Take a cue from that successful competitor’s branding strategy and find out what make his brand more compelling. What type of marketing strategy are they using to create brand awareness?
Mistakes: It takes 3 saves for a goalkeeper to cover up for a single miss. Needless to say, mistakes are always easily identifiable and it takes that extra amount of effort to cover it up. It is not always the case that your competitors stay ahead of you and are successful in whatever they do. This is why we call them competitors and not leaders. The most important thing is to learn from their mistakes. Learn to avoid things that did not work out and try to include things that you find are missing in their business structure.
Bonus Point: Subscribe to your competitor’s newsletters or RSS feeds. This will help you keep a track of their content and any new updates. Also, use Google Alerts to get a notification whenever your competitor is mentioned online.
Use these points and be that successful competitor that other retailers use for their reference. Let them sign up for your newsletters and learn a few things from you.