Competitive Insights Your Company Should be Trying to Obtain
How knowing what the competition is doing can help retail companies perform even better
Retail presents a more competitive landscape than at any time in history. The emergence of online shopping has led to a consumer who is far more demanding than shoppers of generations past, and who also has more choices in terms of products and delivery mechanisms than ever before.
Simply put, it’s a lot harder to win their business and harder still to turn them into loyal customers. It’s also more difficult to effectively manage operations in a digital age when things are moving at light speed, and, of course, what works today is probably not going to work tomorrow.
Put it all together and you have an intensely competitive industry where even the slightest advantage holds tremendous value in terms of winning market share. This is why the power to leverage consumer and market insights, often driven by new digital data technologies, has become a retail game changer. Going forward, it will separate brands and retailers that win from those who fall behind.
From multi-national giants to brand new start-ups, companies are using competitive insights to fuel growth. How does your business gain insights? Have you explored the latest Retail 4.0 technology and how it can help you learn about your customers, operations and competition?
Just how competitive is today’s marketplace?
In a 2020 report on the State of Competitive Intelligence conducted by Crayon, 90% of businesses say their industry has become more competitive in the last three years, with 48% calling it dramatically more competitive. What’s more, while large enterprises face the most competition, companies of all sizes are facing off against new competition with the average climbing from 25 competitive businesses to 29 in the past year alone. To keep up with this expanded marketplace, now more than half of all companies (57% according to the report) have two or more employees dedicated to competitive intelligence.
Suffice it to say, things are heating up and the marketplace is expected to become even more competitive. For brands and retailers, being able to glean actionable competitive insights will prove a tremendous advantage in building the kind of highly effective merchandising, marketing, customer engagement, and omnichannel retail programs that one-up the competition.
Competitive insights come from asking the right questions.
Exactly what questions depend on the questions you pose about all those competitive players. There are no hard and fast rules, however, there are some general insights you’ll certainly want to uncover. To do so, consider asking yourself questions such as these:
- How do products compare in terms of quality, appearance, price and use?
- What does their marketing and branding look like? Do you like it? If so, why?
- Are there markets where they excel? Are there markets where you win?
- How does their website look and function compared to yours?
- What do you see as their strengths and weaknesses
- What do you see as your own strengths and weaknesses? Do they overlap?
- What are their annual sales?
- What kind of competitor are they? Is it about price, perceived quality, image, functionality?
- What are they doing that you’re not and vice versa?
Find the answers and turn them into insights.
Now that you know what you want to learn about your competition, how do you go about learning it? Some competitive data is relatively easy to uncover. Other critical insights, however, require a good amount of digging by someone who understands the ins and outs of competitive data gathering.
According to Brett Beveridge, Founder and CEO of The Revenue Optimization Companies, better known as T-ROC, the competitive advantages of hiring a team with the expertise to deliver actionable insights can more than pay for itself in terms of ROI.
“We provide data and insights for some of the world’s top brands and retailers,” he says. “They call on us because we can do things in terms of consumer and competitive intelligence that show real returns without huge investments in money or manpower on their part. We capture data, whether it’s through research and surveys, or through the latest intelligent data technologies, and work with our clients to turn this data into actionable insights that drive performance, distinguish brands and, ultimately, help drive sales,” he added.
Capturing competitive data
There are a lot of ways to gather the intelligence needed to make sound competitive insights. They include:
Online Research: Quick, easy and effective, a great deal of competitive intel can be gained simply by experiencing the websites and social media profiles of your competitors. After all, they use these tools to speak directly to customers, so you’ll get great insight into product selection and features, as well as brand voice and consumer messaging.
Onsite Research: Visit competitive stores or send in a few mystery shoppers. Pretend you’re a customer and engage with the sales staff to get first-hand insights into the shopping experience. Check out the inventory on the shelves and study the merchandising. See what they do well and where they fall short. It’s a great way to get ideas to make your own stores even more competitive.
Customer Surveys and Focus Groups: Survey your market or host focus groups and include questions about competitive brands and retailers. It’s a great way to find out what the public thinks and, thus, where the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors lie in the most important eyes of all – the customer’s.
Competitive Intelligence Partner: It’s certainly worth considering partnering with one of the many retail insight companies out there. For example, T-ROC provides comprehensive in-field and online competitive intelligence programs that provide insights into competitive advantages, industry trends, marketing and messaging, and pricing considerations.
Competitive insights also mean examining your own operations
It’s important to understand that competitive intelligence is not merely studying the companies you compete with and comparing their methods to your own. It’s also about gauging where your company stands in the eyes of your customers in general. In other words, it’s important to do a little self-examination to gain insights into customer behavior, product selection, sales methods, shopping trends, merchandising, marketing and more. Don’t look at insights solely as a way to “react” to competitive brands and retailers. Rather, look inward to find ways to improve your own retail operations. How you engage customers. How they shop your stores. How you provide what they want and what they need.
Retail 4.0 is a data gold mine
There’s no better way to capture relevant data than by integrating digital retail technology into your operations. Granted, it’s a tall order, which is why many top companies partner with a Retail 4.0 specialist. Why do they do it? Well, just imagine gaining real-time insights across the lifecycle of your business. Imagine the competitive edge you’ll have knowing exactly how, why, when and what you’re doing – whether it’s serving customers, tracking inventory, marketing, or determining pricing.
Digital data and insights, like those provided by T-ROC, deliver the real-time visibility you need to make business decisions that yield positive results.
- Boost conversions and grow basket size by improving store conditions and customer engagement
- Use insights to determine pricing, marketing, merchandising and other critical decisions
- Customized reports distill the right data into a digestible and actionable format that makes it easy to glean insights
- Improve forecasting, strategic planning and competitive assessments
- Identify new opportunities faster through reliable digital data
- Identify and resolve issues before they become major problems
- Drive sales by using insights to make improvements across your retail operations.
Leading retail companies use competitive insights, as well as internally focused data and insights, to enhance performance and, ultimately, grow market share. If you’re a brand or retailer whose not taking full advantage of what competitive intelligence can do for your business, the time to change that is right now.
Perhaps, it’s time to talk to the insights experts at The Revenue Optimization Companies? If you found this article helpful, you can learn more about competitive insights, intelligent data capture, and other retail management solutions at www.trocglobal.com. You can also subscribe to the T-ROC blog for regular updates on the retail industry.
TROC is the leading provider of premier staffing outsource, software, managed technology services, and consumer insights for the top global brands, retailers, manufacturers, service providers, and distributors. The company’s distinctive solutions address the entire lifecycle of brick and mortar brand and retail operations by combining retail expertise, best practices, and technology to help its customers achieve sales and operational excellence as well as a sustainable competitive advantage. As a Retail 4.0 thought leader, T-ROC enables companies with high-value products in the physical world to thrive through the digitalization of the physical shopping experience. To learn more about T-ROC, visit www.trocglobal.com.