Retailers: Know Your Competition!

Whether you are new retailer or have operated your business for many years, your level of success may be determined in large measure by the quality and execution of your business plan.  And, in developing or updating your business plan, analyzing your competition should be a significant consideration.

You should, of course, know your products and/or services.  But, how well do you know your customers and competition?  And, how do you collect the information required to make those critical assessments?  Much like the instrumentation used by a pilot, your assessments of customer requirements and competitive influences will help you to navigate your business environment.  These determinations will enable you to optimize your marketing and advertising efforts, as well as develop product assortments and pricing strategies to gain a competitive edge.

One of the best ways to learn more about your customers is by surveying their preferences.  Providing them an incentive to complete the survey will assure that you get a statistically-significant number of responses from which to draw your conclusions.  These conclusions will be vital in determining your product mix and stock levels.

But, learning more about your customers is just one-half of your success equation.  Competitive intelligence will help you determine how well you are satisfying your customers’ requirements vis-a-vis your competition.

In discovering more about your competition, you must evaluate factors including convenience of location, competitor strength and weaknesses, annual sales, product/service offerings, price structure, marketing/advertising activities, and sources of supply.  While this may seem like a great deal of information to collect, a little detective and intelligence-gathering work should do the trick.

Internet searches, reviews of customer advertising, on-site observations, and customer exit interviewing can provide you the data you need for your competitive analysis.  Then, you can use that information to establish positioning strategies providing your business a distinct competitive edge.

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