How To Analyse Your eCommerce Competitors

Mention the concept of ‘competitor analysis’ to most small ecommerce merchants and they’ll probably shrug their shoulders. Shy of the insights they gain passively while going about their business, most don’t make any real efforts to keep tabs on their rivals.

In most instances, oblivious of or ignorant to the fact that competitor analysis holds the key to taking and maintaining the lead in any area of ecommerce.

How to Identify Your Competitors

There’s a simplified approach to competitor research, which begins by establishing who your closest competitors are:

  1. Conduct a few Google searches using the keywords you target
  2. Examine the website of the businesses that appear
  3. Check how they go about their social media strategies
  4. Use a brand mention tool to see who’s talking about them and where
  5. Make a list of their USPs and how they compare to yours

At which point, you’ll have a list of businesses that are competing for the same customers as you.

Identifying Areas for Improvement

Now comes the time to delve a little deeper, in order to identify how you can outperform your competitors. All businesses have their own individual strengths and USPs, but you can’t expect to outperform them in all areas.

Instead, it’s a case of assessing their strengths and weaknesses in several key areas, in order to identify where you can gain an edge:

  • Product prices – For example, if they’re undercutting you on price by a considerable margin, it’s going to be difficult to present yourself as a more appealing seller. Your pricing strategy may need to be reconsidered.
  • Delivery charges – If there are still charging for delivery (or have a minimum spend to qualify for free shipping), why not make your USP free delivery on all orders? This can be a deal-breaker for a huge proportion of online shoppers.
  • Special Offers - Ecommerce brands often appeal to customers with long-term deals, such as buy two items and the third is free. You job being to find ways to improve on their offer, or come up with some kind of incentive if they’ve no such offer currently running.
  • Loyalty Schemes - Those who shop with the same sellers on a regular basis (rightly) expect preferential treatment of some kind. Irrespective of whether your competitors have loyalty schemes up and running, you may want to think about developing one for your online store.
  • Returns Policies - Simplified and flexible returns policies are an absolute must. The simplicity with which unwanted items can be returned can and often does make or break online sales. Hence, it’s worth keeping an eye on your competitors’ returns and refund policies.
  • Customer Support - What level of customer support do your competitors provide, both for prospective buyers and in terms of aftersales support? Could you market your superior customer service standards as a USP for your business?
  • Checkout - Last up, do any of your competitors make it easier for their customers to complete the purchase process than you? Is there anything you can do to streamline and simplify the checkout process, in order to capitalise on more impulse purchases?