E-commerce is more competitive than ever. Things change fast in the online market. The best way to ensure you are ahead of the pack is to use competitor intelligence. Good e-commerce stores have solid products. Winning ecommerce stores create a lasting connection with the customer. These stores understand the customer’s priorities and needs.
When a winning brand connects with customers on a personal basis, it feels like magic. Competitor intelligence allows you to reverse engineer the secret sauce behind winning companies.
Every industry is racing to use big data strategies. A lot of companies aren’t making use of public data their competitors publish.
How much of your competitor’s data are you capturing? Are you actually using this to make better business decisions? How are you combing through the massive amount of data out there?
What are your goals
The first step is setting your goals. Depending on the stage of your business and your future plans these could include:
– Finding new products to sell
– Understanding customer opinion
– Finding winning marketing tactics
– Scanning for knockoff or copycat products
– Finding new marketing channels
– Reverse engineering a competitor’s influencer pipeline
How do you actually know what your customers think?
Understand what the customers think about your product. Understanding what they look for in a product is a great way to position your brand at the top of the pack.
For review analysis, social listening is important. Social listening is when you go where your customers are and you map their conversations. This method beats surveys a lot of the time since you get more natural opinions.
Here is an example of social listening used on reviews of a cryptocurrency wallet. A crypto wallet stores the password for virtual assets. People buy this product since they want a physical way of storing access. They don’t want to rely on a hard-drive or internet.
We mined the reviews on Amazon. Then used an algorithm that extracts the phrases that are important. This is a useful application of AI (natural language programming to be specific).
When crunching the reviews we can see right away that the product is not doing its job. The product needs to make customers feel safe and comfortable. The customers feel as if the designers neglected the important part. The metal letters that store the password are painted on. Customers don’t want the letters to scrape off leaving them unable to login. The customers love the look, feel, and branding behind the product. The customers want to like this product. They relate to the reasons for purchasing it and love the branding. They think it’s useless based on the painted letters. This is a huge opportunity for someone to create a brand that delivers higher value.
How does your competitor find the people to advocate for their products?
Some of the top brands use influencers to make their customers feel as if there is a personal connection. Influencers within a niche interact with their fans through content, and social media. This creates a familiarity with the fans who feel as if they can relate to the influencer. Having an influencer marketing campaign can help promote a product. If done wrong it can diminish the brand’s perceived value. To create a genuine connection the influencer must be a genuine fan of the product.
Use competitor intelligence to reverse engineer successful pipelines of influencers.
First you need to find all the reviewers and influencers. What do they say? How do they connect with the audience? What words and language do they use to communicate with the audience? What is the commission structure of the affiliate deal?
Here is an example graph showing some facts about an influencer pipeline for a shoe company. This shoe company uses quality leather materials, sustainable manufacturing, and artisan labour. As you can see all the review articles mentioned sustainability. The profile of influencers splits between corporate review blogs, and individual fashion influencers. The average individual bloggers were female fashion bloggers who post picture of outfits. These Many of the corporate review style blogs did not post custom pictures of the product.
This dual approach increases brand visibility by using large review blogs. It also uses smaller fashion blogger to increase brand trust.
If you wanted to compete with this shoe brand, you could use a similar influencer profile to target. The influencers found would review alternative products. Tip: Contact the siteowners where ever you see your competitor’s product. Its a win for them since they get a new affiliate partnership. And its a win for you since your competitor doesn’t get exclusive web space. Many times the affiliate site will describe the process to submit a product.
Another way to compete with this product is to use the fact that. A good chunk of review articles mentioned the shoe was too tight. This is a brand threat to the company, and an opportunity for their competition. Some authors mentioned they ordered a size bigger and it was still too tight. With this brand the influencers love the story so much that they tolerate ill fitting shoes. This is what it feels like when you create something that resonates with your audience. They will look for reasons to buy from you.
Product gap analysis
Every ecommerce store has to source products. Inventory gap analysis is a fast way to compare product landscapes.
The process of inventory gap analysis starts with tracking your competitors store. Find each product and take note of the type of product (category) and any details that might be useful. You’ll need to update this information as time goes on. The more this process is automated the more often you can update this data.
Using the product data you’ve gathered, you can create visuals. Here are charts that show each product type as a percentage of the area.
An easy example is the following comparison between two rival coffee stores. Both of these coffee shops target a similar audience and show up on the same page of google. Right away you can see that one coffee store doesn’t have any tea. The other coffee store has a large footprint of tea. If this is your store send a test email to asking if they would want to pre-order new specialty tea. If customers seem excited then launch it as a new product line.
The product treemap also shows the proportion of both stores that sell merchandise. We were able to find the supplier of custom mugs and other merchandise for these stores.
The benefits of merchandise: bigger order sizes, increased brand visiblity, more return purchases.
Tips for competitor intelligence:
1. Track all data points created. If your data is incomplete or inaccurate, or outdated its less useful.
2. Find changes over time.
3. Be creative and look for creative ways to learn from your competition.
4. Don’t limit your competitor research to direct competitors. Look into indirect competitors to learn underutilized winning tactics in your niche.
5. Brands are a set of data points, not magic.
6. Turn data points into glance-able insights.
What do you want to see next:
-Competitor intelligence demo: How a yoga company makes $15 million per year with a 2 star rating. This store is an example of a high end influencer pipeline. The products are crap quality (according to trustpilot). And they even wholesale their products under another name for half price or less.
– Hot product roundup: Top drop-shipping products and how the brands made the store feel high value.
If you have any questions about your competition I would love to see how we can help. If you have any stores you want us to look into post them here!