Tick Tock: 1 Hour
Competitive shopping, usually abbreviated to comp shopping, is probably something you do everyday without realizing it. But you must be thinking: If it’s something so intuitive, why are we talking about it now?
Well… what exactly is comp shopping? It’s about understanding how your products and services compare to what your direct competitors offer. Not just that, it’s also knowing their go-to taglines and key phrases when fighting for customer mindshare. There are many aspects one can delve into: you can choose to focus on pricing, assortment, marketing, you get my drift. Alternatively, a high-level competitive analysis can be done too, when rethinking overall business strategies.
We are here to show you that comp shopping can be done within an hour, so read on to find out how!
Current Approaches to Comp Shopping
There are several approaches to competitive shopping. One is to hire mystery shoppers, which at one point, had been our dream job because it’s just shopping, right? However, as with all in-depth research tools, mystery shopping studies are expensive, not to mention they’re also extremely time-consuming. From when the study is being conducted to the retrieval of results is a long process.
Other common methods of doing competitive shopping include looking at competing retailers’ social media presence, scrolling through their feeds - scraping the web for their catchphrases and brand image. Some metrics you can employ are: the frequency of posting, the level of engagement on their posts, and what online channels they use to reach their target audience. One additional benefit of this deep-dive is that you can see which type of content and channel works, and which doesn’t. This can save you a lot of time beta-testing marketing tactics to engage your own customer base. Also, don’t forget to sift through the customer feedback on these channels. By capturing both ends of the customer experience spectrum, the comments provide a lens into what your competing retailer is succeeding (or failing) at.
For e-commerce comp shopping, it can mean hours of recording prices of key value items i.e. bestsellers and the styles in each collection. Other attributes such as sizing and color should be noted down as well, because all these contribute to how your assortment compares with competing brands. Their introduction rate of new styles and release cadence is crucial as well - it affects how fast your own production cycles should be. Whomever is tasked with comp shopping on e-commerce sites probably takes a good chunk of their workday out to record this data manually.
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With all that said, is comp-shopping under an hour virtually impossible?
We weren’t lying to you. With StyleSage, you can export our data and produce charts just like this:
We’re not bragging or anything, but you’ve got to admit that this is pretty cool. We can see past data, which is how this graph was constructed - tracking average discounts across the year for Forever 21, American Eagle, and Zara. You can see here that Zara has an obvious pattern of discounting, which peaks twice a year in July and late January. Other information we can distill is that American Eagle has higher average discounts compared to F21 from March 2018 to May 2019.
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Other than looking at pricing and discount information, we have one more tip for you - and we have saved our best for the last. That is, to sift out fast-moving products by observing what is selling out at full price. These probably contain silhouettes and styles which are highly popular with the target audience right now, and it is key to have similar products in your assortment as well.
For e-commerce businesses, you may also want to look at website design such as search tools and product layout designs, which impact the customer experience greatly. Tracking their email marketing approaches and knowing how they retarget customers is critical to improving your own business strategy as well. Since you should have your list of direct competitors now, this part isn’t difficult because all you have to do is to subscribe to the email newsletters. However, what can be more time-consuming will be sifting through the newsletters and taking note of homepage changes. On a side note, this database of homepage changes and email marketing lives inside StyleSage too.
The next step after comp shopping, naturally, will be fleshing out your business strategy. Once you figure out how often your competitors are introducing new collections and the lag time for this process, get ahead of them by constantly keeping an ear to the ground for current key trends. Gather a few influencers which fit into your brand image and follow them religiously. Take note of what outfits they post because what they have on will probably be a more wearable version inspired by runway trends.
Okay, we’re done! Now that we’ve talked all about comp shopping, are you more prepared to take it on? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or just simply let us know what kind of content you want us to write next!