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Tips on Selling

Watching your competitors? Here’s why you should

Everyone worries about competitors; some people even obsess over them. DAVID BROWN says rather than viewing the competition as a threat, smart retailers will look at what benefits they can glean from others.

It’s natural to monitor the movements of competitors; however, too much focus on the competition can become a problem if it turns into a fixation. The best businesses do their own thing and don’t allow what they can’t control to bother them.

Having said that, looking at what competitors do is a positive way to impact any operation as it enables retailers to notice, learn and adopt best practices.

So who is the competition? It’s easy to assume it’s just the other jewellers in the shopping centre or high street but they’re not the only ones competing for the consumer dollar.

Any business that attracts disposable income is a competitor. Once upon a time, stores only had to worry about their suburbs or towns; now it’s the whole world. Here are a few tips to help retailers benefit from looking at their competitors.

Define the competition

Don’t just talk about industry competitors. Include anyone who is after your customers, such as the local travel agent.

One of the closest competitors for jewellers is the cosmetics and perfume industry. This sector is heavily brand-driven, and its retailers are experts at selling the dream.

Look for ideas that work

If you see a great idea, use it! There is no such thing as an original idea anymore. Rather than cursing the competition, look at what they do that works. Many storeowners have successfully adopted new promotional ideas they saw used in other industries. There are good ideas everywhere. Keep your eyes open and see what can work for you.

  • Study their customer service – What do you like about it? What don’t you like? What do they do well that you could consider adopting?
  • Think about guarantees – Some businesses offer very effective guarantees that help them close the sale. Do you know what your competition offers in this way? How do you counter it? Are there guarantee ideas that could work well for you? Why not ask those businesses about it?
  • Build a customer list – Many businesses run successful loyalty programs that bring customers back regularly. Are you on the mailing list of someone whose marketing you admire? Why not talk to them about how they do it?
  • Seek out staff – If you’re looking for new staff, are there people who have given you a good customer experience at other businesses? Do you have them on a hit list? Why wonder if your next hire will be any good when you can choose people who have already made a great impression on you?
  • Compare prices – It’s interesting to ‘mystery-shop’ direct competitors. What do they charge for repairs and comparable product? If you don’t know then you aren’t really sure what you’re up against.
  • Check out windows – You can get great ideas for window displays and cabinet layouts from other businesses. Look at the props they use. How are they being innovative? What themes do you love that you can use yourself?
  • Read their catalogues – Make a point of checking out the catalogues of direct competitors. What styles appear regularly? If the item has appeared in more than one catalogue, chances are it’s a good seller. Could you be including something similar in your range?
  • Follow their social media – This is a great way to see how their customers respond. What sort of posts get the best response? This is a clue to what you could be posting on your own social media pages. If they are showing images of product that is well received, even better!
  • Start a scrapbook – Paste competitor advertisements along with dates and any impact they had on your business during that period. Sometimes you’ll find patterns. For example, they may conduct the same event in the second week of November each year – can you use that information to beat them to it?
  • Look overseas – Thanks to the internet, the competition is now global, which gives you access to new ideas happening elsewhere. If it works well somewhere else, maybe it will work well here.
  • Don’t personalise your competition – It’s too easy to become emotional about the impact others have on your business. You can’t control what they do but you can control your actions.

See competitors as businesses that can improve your business and learn from them. The impact on your bottom line might leave you feeling grateful that they are around.

David Brown

Contributor • Retail Edge Consultants

David Brown is co-founder and business mentor with Retail Edge Consultants. Learn more:

Duraflex Group Australia

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