The more competitors operating in a specific sector, the more important competition monitoring is for the individual. In other words, a largely identical range of products demands an increased competitor analysis effort. And this analysis is based on constant research: What are fellow competitors doing? Sources other than the Internet also provide this information.
What you ought to know about your competitors
Because an increasing number of retailers use e-commerce and have therefore selected the channel with the highest growth in sales, competition on the Internet is increasing accordingly. In order to remain a strong contender, you will have to secure information advantages. The most important issues are:
Which of my competitors offers the same services or products?
How do they present the offers on the Internet?
What kind of price policy is the competition pursuing?
What are their services, for example, payment or delivery?
In order to keep a step ahead you cannot afford to miss any new trends. There are a number of sources available to keep up with any developments in e-commerce, including:
Press releases and trade fairs
Keyword and price research on Google
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media channels
Traditional methods: Trade fairs and press releases
Industry relevant trade fairs are a longstanding forum that you ought to use to avoid missing out on the latest trends. Retailers and salespeople were aware of this centuries ago. But even in the age of digital networks and social media, one-on-one conversations cannot be replaced.
Press releases are also sources of information that have been used for a long time. Google Alerts is an excellent way of acquiring immediate access to the newest statements of relevant companies. Google Alerts an.
Google helps – also in competition monitoring
Google is the top address for any information about what is happening on the Internet. This also applies to competition monitoring. Keyword developments are very informative: What terms are the customers searching for? Google Trends provides answers. Over the course of time, the popularity of keywords allows well-founded conclusions about trends. This type of market monitoring, with Google for instance, shows seasonal developments, which can be used to promote your own strategy.
Google Shopping is an excellent marketing analysis tool to establish a reasonable margin for your prices. It allows you to make conclusions about which products can really be sold well. It also gives an indication about the scope of the offers and the development of prices.
Social media reveals what the competition is doing
Social media channels are very important for competition monitoring. As a follower of managers, influencers, customers and competitors you are supplied with the latest information via Twitter. The reasons for using these types of information acquirement methods are convincing:
Managers often tweet news from their sector and are therefore a good addition to the acquisition of information via press releases.
Influencers are usually the first people to test new products – sometimes even before they are introduced on the market. Their comments often indicate what new services customers appreciate.
Your own competition frequently reveals information about internal matters via tweets. And those of you who can read between the lines can get an early inkling of the strategic developments on the competitor’s horizon.
Consumers often enjoy posting comments about companies, their products and campaigns via social media channels. Sentiment analysis is a good way to capture and evaluate the moods and opinions of consumers.
Social media monitoring tools help simplify the observation of tweets and Facebook posts. They also help make and build valuable customer relationships, plan content in advance as well as find influencers who can help contribute to the success of your own offering. These tools collect important data for market analysis and reveal trends.
Tools for competition monitoring
Special online tools enable the careful examination of backlink structures of competing companies. Other programs immediately inform you when your competitors make changes to their websites. An automatic adjustment of your own prices to match price developments on the Internet is also possible. These are based on so-called repricing algorithms, which function on the basis of price developments and individually defined profit margins.
In the meantime, online service providers also offer competition monitoring as service packages. Based on big data, they provide their customers with structured reports as well as current notifications according to individual criteria. Breaking news can be used as early-warning systems.
Marketing research with the crowd
The following applies to competition monitoring in e-commerce: The larger the data base, the more reliable the competition analysis is. Dependable data are absolutely essential for competition monitoring. If your data samples are too small, the analysis of developments and strategies of your competitors can lead to serious bad decisions.
An inexpensive, prompt and reliable method of acquiring data is crowdworking. The processing of a large number of similar micro jobs creates a large amount of valuable information in a very short amount of time. Clickworkers can, for instance, conduct research into prices, new forms of product display and other product-relevant data in competing online shops.
The crowd can also be effectively deployed to conduct research regarding information about competing products in the stationary retail sector (local, country or global). Clickworkers, who are selected according to reliable criteria, document and take pictures of product shelves, price tags or promotional activities in stores belonging to rival companies and then analyze the data they have acquired. A company can quickly obtain an overview of the situation at the POS.
What new products are being developed, tested or are already on the market? In what directions are your competitors expanding? Which new marketing activities are your competitors using to promote their products? These questions can only be answered by monitoring your competitors. No company trying to keep ahead of its rivals in the same sector can do without structured e-commerce competition monitoring. Keeping an eye on the market can protect you against unpleasant surprises.
By the way: Competition monitoring often leads to new ideas. You don’t have to imitate the measures, but it’s fine to let yourself be inspired!
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