Whether you run a brick and mortar store, an e-commerce business or a bit of both, competitive intelligence is key to your survival. Indeed, in an increasingly digital society, your current and future competitors can keep track of exactly what you’re doing, how you’re doing it and what your customers think of it in real-time. And if you’re not doing the same to your competitors, you will inevitably get left behind and your sales will drastically decrease. Shop to find your new favorite women’s activewear at Sacrifice Now. Designed with your goals in mind, experience quality fitness clothing with FREE shipping.
So we’ve established that competitive intelligence is essential in today’s retail industry. But what exactly is competitive intelligence and how can you make sure that you are following all best practices as well as current and future innovations in the field?
What Is Competitive Intelligence?
Let’s start with the basics. Competitive intelligence is basically researching and analysing everything that is happening in your industry in order to remain relevant and competitive in the market. It involves identifying and monitoring your major competitors as well as seemingly smaller players in the field.
But competitive intelligence isn’t just about simply looking at your competitors. It’s about understanding how consumers are interacting with them. Just because your competitors are marketing or selling something a certain way, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is working and appealing to consumers. With proper competitive intelligence, you can leverage off of your competitors’ failures as well as their successes.
How Can You Use Competitive Intelligence?
Competitive intelligence isn’t just one program or one action. It’s a combination of a few different strategies and methods that are continuously evolving along with the market. So let’s take a look at some of the things you can do to establish or improve your competitive intelligence strategies.
Define Your Competitors
Depending on your business and the kinds of products you sell, you could have thousands of competitors. Start by identifying your five biggest competitors. Whether that’s based on location or the types of products they sell, they will be the five companies that pose the biggest threat to your sales.
But your list of competitors shouldn’t end there. Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence and retail analytics tools, you can get data to track an endless list of competitors. So you should also track some indirect competitors. These might be companies that you don’t directly compete with but there’s some kind of overlap to your market.
Finally, you should identify and track some aspirational competitors. These would be industry giants or larger companies. And whilst you may think you have no chance of actually competing with these companies, you can most certainly use their success and failures to inform your own marketing and pricing strategies.
There is a vast amount of information out there and you could very easily get lost in the endless data. So rather than trying to gather an incomprehensible amount of information about your competitors, start by channelling your energy into a handful of areas that matter most. For example, if you’re currently losing out on sales because you’re being beaten on prices elsewhere, focus on pricing intelligence. Or, if you’re trying to increase your social media footprint, focus on this area. The point is to focus on a few areas you can improve rather than trying to do everything at once.
Choose The Right Tools
There are so many different ways to gather so many different types of data about your competitors in today’s market. But luckily, there are also many retail intelligence tools that can be used to help you gather and analyse this information.
Although you might be keen to just get going, you’ll save yourself a lot of time, hassle and energy in the future if you take your time to shop around and select the right retail intelligence tool for you. Don’t be afraid to seek out professional advice and remember that what might work for another company may not be the right tool for your business. Again, taking the time to really think about this stuff at the beginning of the process will save you countless hours in future.
Simply having all the data isn’t enough to create results. Once you’ve gathered the data, you need to analyse it. And with things changing constantly in today’s digital climate, this needs to be done regularly and in real-time in order to have any kind of chance of keeping up with competitors.
There are a number of ways in which you can analyse your data, from benchmark or baseline analysis to competitor profiles and battle-cards. The best way of understanding this data, however, is to ask for outside help. After all, if you were an expert in data analysis, you would be a data analyst and not running a retail or e-commerce business. Seeking outside assistance will help you to get the most out of your findings.
Once you’ve analysed the data, you need to communicate these with the rest of the business and use the information to inform your marketing and sales strategies. Whether it’s changing pricing strategies, re-evaluating your social media output or completely re-designing your website, but the information you find to good use by taking decisive action based on your findings.
The concept of competitive intelligence can seem both simple and painfully complicated all at once. In theory, the idea of gathering information about your market and competitors seems simple but in reality, knowing where to look, what to look for and how to use it to your advantage can be rather overwhelming.
In order to make sure you get the best out of your competitive intelligence, don’t be afraid to seek outside help. Getting some expert advice on the right tools can be invaluable and having someone on hand to help you understand the vast amounts of data can be the difference between failure and success.