Keep Friends Close and Enemies Closer - How to Learn from Competitors

Does it ever happen that you’re telling an incredibly entertaining story to people, enjoying the glory, and bathing in their admiration, when one of them goes: “Oh, you liar! That was me who that happened to!”? Well, sorry buddy, but that’s how the world works. Led Zeppelin copied old blues artists (allegedly) throughout their carrier, and Microsoft copied early Apple (again, allegedly, I don’t want to get sued). The best ideas don’t come to you while sitting under the tree - you borrow them from the most successful people.

In online business that’s especially relevant - no matter which e-Commerce niche you choose, there will be numerous prominent sellers already in it. So, why not “learn” from them? Not only is studying rivalries great for marketing and analysis purposes - it gives you real, working business tips and shows mistakes to avoid.

Today, we’ll talk about it - how to categorise competitors properly, and learn from each type of them. Let’s go!

#1 Techy Sellers

Keep Friends Close and Enemies Closer - How to Learn from Competitors

People who really appreciate Pokemon Go, and despise human communication. They usually run open source platforms, and provide best design/user experience.

What to borrow

  • tons of features
  • incredible performance speed
  • great user interface, stylish design

What to avoid

  • Not building a strong brand’s persona - putting little effort into reaching people on social media, and encouraging feedback
  • Their poor marketing strategies - neglecting loyalty programs, regular special offers, etc.

All in all, pay close attention to general design and functionality trends of such competitors, and think how to adapt these principles to your online retailer.

#2 Business Veterans Trying to Catch Up

Keep Friends Close and Enemies Closer - How to Learn from Competitors

I’m talking about old-fashioned, brick and mortar businesses, that want to adjust to the Internet era. As opposed to techies, they’re usually not advanced website development-wise, and still consider their physical store to be the main profit source.

What to borrow

  • сustomer service (polished by rich human to human experience)
  • the friendly, pleasant way of handling customers’ complaints
  • loyalty programs, particularly for local buyers

What to avoid

  • lack of sophisticated marketing campaigns
  • websites with shoddy design, that aren’t regularly updated

#3 The Giants

Keep Friends Close and Enemies Closer - How to Learn from Competitors

Corporations with with multiple physical stores and a strong online presence. Small retailers won’t be able to copy most of what they do, due to the lack of resources, but still:

What to borrow

  • reinforcement of brand’s image
  • robust supply chains
  • selling across multiple channels

What to avoid

  • Waste of resources - large retailers aren’t usually that careful, when it comes to spending money and effort of employees
  • Not paying attention to minor details

#4 Kings of e-Commerce

Keep Friends Close and Enemies Closer - How to Learn from Competitors

Amazon, eBay, Apple and so on - competitors that only exist in online selling world and dominate it. Competing is meaningless here, but making such enterprise retailers your mentors, unbeknownst to them - is the best you can do.

What to borrow

  • worldwide selling strategy
  • international customer service
  • strong logistics
  • product offers (cross sales, up-sales strategies) and annual sales

What to avoid

  • Being very general, not niche oriented
  • Setting prices too high

Google each aspect of these stores’/marketplaces’ activity and draw conclusions. Such education will come handy when you put your business to a larger scale.

#5 Business/Marketing Nerds

Keep Friends Close and Enemies Closer - How to Learn from Competitors

Former marketing consultants, who used to work in consulting agencies, seen thousands of small businesses, built promotion campaigns for them, to acquaint or return customers, bring traffic and increase conversions. These are dangerous.

They collect useful information religiously, before taking any, even insignificant action. They’re probably gonna read this article, and a hundred of articles like this, so your only weapon is precision. Do the research more thoroughly, and feel no shame for copying their effective moves.

What to borrow

  • email marketing campaigns
  • landing pages where each word and icon is put deliberately, in conversion purposes
  • Call To Actions throughout the website
  • their SEO practices, which social media (Facebook, Twitter etc,) they use and the way they react to the feedback on it

What to avoid

  • Lack of technological experience
  • Focus on social media strategies exclusively, while neglecting top-notch website development

That’s it. Stealing isn’t noble (unless you do similarly to “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Gone in 60 Seconds” guys), but learning from your enemies, with respect, is. So, take a notepad and go ahead - copy all the best business practices you find - even the most original e-seller took other’s ideas at some point.

Cart2Cart wishes you good luck.