Keeping up with your ecommerce store is a challenge. There are countless tasks to be done, many hours of hard work to put in, and competition that you must always be aware of. Sure there are the massive giants like Amazon and Walmart, but to be honest those companies are too high on the food chain to consider your competition right now. I’m talking about the other guys just like you, staying up late and trying to manage a respectable store. These are the competitors you need to be on the lookout for.
In this blog post we’ll talk about some competitive analysis tools that you can use towards undertaking a good competitive analysis. You can have all the tools in the world, but if you don’t target the right competitors it’s not going to be helping you out a whole lot. Take this Utah soda war as a proper sign of competition. Both companies offer the exact same products and services. Both are located across the street from each other, and even have the same drinks and treats. Coming from someone who frequents both, I can honestly say I can’t tell one bit of difference. However, they have to be watching each other so closely that they would be running competitive analysis daily. One shop could lower their prices by .25 cents, and that would be enough to drive the other out of business.
So how do you find your own soda war? By using the right competitive analysis tools, and using them properly. First things first, you need to find out who you’re up against.
Step 1- who are you up against?
This may be a little tricky, but will show you the importance of having a select niche instead of trying to sell everything. The only stores that can get away with selling everything “under the sun” succesfully are the ecommerce and retail giants.
Let’s say your niche is archery and accessories. You sell things on your store like targets, custom arrows, handmade bows, and other archery related items. You’ll want to find any competitor's online that sell the same things. Obviously you’ll have giants like Cabelas that you should be aware of, but not include in your targeted analysis.
To find other competitors in your wheelhouse I would go to Google, and find some of the smaller fish. These might be found on Page 2 depending on your niche, or on page 10+. I would focus on finding 10 really good, close competitors. These are businesses that offer the very similar products, prices, and services.
Once you find out who you're up against it's time to build your competitive analysis.
Step 2- Research
By properly doing a thorough competitive research you’ll be able to find out how big and strong these competitors really are. We’ll go over some of the competitive analysis tools that might help you get the upper edge.
Open Site Explorer
This is a free tool from Moz that will allow you to see the SEO strength of their site, and where they are getting any referral links. All you simply do is plug in the competitor's site in the bar, and see how strong their SEO is. I recommend using a spreadsheet to keep track of your findings and later compare them to your own business. This will give you an idea on where you stand against their SEO practices, and you’ll be able to analyze what it would take to outrank these people on search results.
Domain age checker
This tool is very simple and easy to use. It will tell you how old the other competitors domain is, how long have they been running their store, and when the domail expires. The advantage here is that if a store is about to expire, you might be able to reach out to that retailer to see if they are still interested in running their store. If not, you might be able to convince them to sell their store to you. In that case you could run a redirect back to your site, and naturally gain more customers.
This is a social media tool that will tell you the influence ranking of your own brand and that of others. Here you’ll be able to tell how many followers they have, and what kind of presence they have. By performing a social media analysis, you’ll know what you need to do in order to gain natural followers.
There are a lot of tools out there that can help you track what PPC (pay per click advertising) your competitors are running, and just roughly how much money they are spending: SpyFu is one of them. If your competitors are a bit larger, and have a customer base, their PPC campaigns will probably be very robust. You don’t need to outbid competitors on every keyword. Instead, find what items of yours could bring you the most profit, and outbid them on those keywords. Remember to be responsible with your spending, and not to lose all your money because you want to rank higher on a couple of words.
This tool is one of the more helpful and useful tools on this list. It will break down the website you are interested in analyzing in a detailed manner. It will give you plenty of information that can help you get the upper edge on your competitors. There is a good chance that your competitors are using this tool on you as well, so don’t let them take advantage of you.
Step 3- build your site better, faster, stronger
Improving your own website will be the hardest and longest part of beating out your competitors. It might take anywhere from months to years to edge some of them out, but by sticking to good practice and competitive analysis you’ll gradually improve. Remember to keep things clean, and to always do things by the book. I’m sure there are opportunities to advance using sketchy practices, but focus on building something better than that.
Always remember to be your own kind of store, and make the competition follow you.