When you sell the same product as another company, how do can you differentiate your business from your competition?
Geographical location is not always important due to the popularity of internet shopping. If prices are more or less the same, the differentiating factor is often the level of customer service provided.
Take a look at the steps below and see if you can implement a plan of attack.
Who Exactly is the Competition?
If you cannot identify your competition and pinpoint at least 5 other similar companies to yours, how will you know whether or not you are ahead?
Internet research should be the backbone of a formal strategy to identify and understand your competitors, and for completely new businesses forms an integral part of your business plan.
Good Old-fashioned Customer Care
Fortunately, by thinking like a customer, this is one of the easiest areas in which to excel.
Getting the basics right, meticulous attention to detail, and following-up with your customers is not difficult, but is sometimes overlooked in today’s fast-paced internet world where sales are completed in a matter of seconds.
Old-fashioned values cost nothing, and consideration and respect for consumers goes a long way towards building a loyal base of people who buy from you again and again.
Thoughtful actions such as taking the time to place a handwritten note in a parcel before posting it, or sending out a personalised birthday message, should never be overlooked as a way to make your business stand out from the crowd.
The Double Benefit of Social Media
Use social media to your advantage, not only to promote yourself but also to keep an eye on the competition.
Keeping tabs on your competitors is easy when you can check out their new products on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. Not only that, but the type of articles and other content they are posting will help you decide what might work for your own business.
Quickly following up on comments and generally engaging with followers is a great way to show your commitment to excellent, personalised customer service.
Once you allocate a certain amount of time each day to social media, it will not take long to be seen by customers as helpful and responsive, all from the comfort of your own desk.
In-person Intelligence Gathering
Rubbing shoulders with your peers at industry events, trade fairs and conferences consolidates your detailed internet and social media research, and you may be surprised what is given away in an informal networking session.
Tiny snippets of information can be gleaned simply by chatting to business owners in your industry, and put to good use when deciding whether to expand on existing inventory, or which is the optimum time to hold a sale.
Shore up Your Defences
Contingency plans are invaluable in difficult economic times, and it is not always a good idea to expand a business during challenging circumstances.
This obviously depends on your industry, but by recognising the need to simply survive in business you may outplay a more ‘cavalier’ competitor.
Use Analytics to Stay One Step Ahead
Knowledge is power, and by using the intelligence provided by analytics, businesses remain agile and quick to react to changes in their industry.
Your competitors may not understand the value of business data, and if they don’t, you are well on the way to jumping right ahead of them. A wide choice of website analytics programmes is available to let you in on customer preferences and detailed buying habits, many of which are free of charge, like Google Analytics.
Understand the Needs of the End-user
Selling to the retail sector means that not only do you have to deal with the needs of your own customers, but also take into account the requirements of the end-user. By getting to know and understand your customers you can gain their trust, and grow your business.
If you are concerned about ‘spying’ on the competition, just remember that it is highly likely they are also spying on you. So rather than just keeping up with your competitors, why not take steps to get ahead?