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7 Competitive Intelligence Tactics for E-commerce Growth

Today’s shoppers can buy anything. At any time. Virtually anywhere

If they don’t like your product or pricing, there’s a good chance they’ll go straight to a competitor. If they can’t find what they need in their own market, they’ll simply hop online and buy it from abroad.

As an e-commerce founder, you’re competing with brands all across the world for market share. However, you wouldn’t have made it this far if you didn’t have what it takes to win.
In an environment where the next two to three years could define the next 20, it’s time to rethink your growth playbook and identify new ways to stand out.

Competitive Intelligence Tactics for 2024

  1. Deploy the Best New Tools
  2. Predict and Plan New Product Launches
  3. Assess Your Competitors’ Discoverability
  4. Analyze Competitor Pricing Strategies
  5. Understand Brand Sentiment
  6. Dissect Your Competitors’ Tech Stacks
  7. Know Where They’re Headed

What Is Competitive Intelligence?

Competitive intelligence is the art and science of studying a business’s competitors. E-commerce businesses can do this by gathering and analyzing competitor data in a variety of business areas, including marketing, product development, customer sentiment, and more.

Benefits of Competitive Intelligence in E-commerce

From Amazon’s deep data analytics to Zara’s ahead-of-the-curve trendspotting, many of the world’s biggest brands have used competitive intelligence to reach unprecedented levels of growth.

By taking time to regularly observe your competitors’ strategies, strengths, and weaknesses, you can get a sharper view of the unique value you bring to the market.

A robust competitive intelligence strategy can help you:

  • Adopt emerging market trends early
  • Quickly identify rising competitors
  • Discover new ways to differentiate
  • Uncover gaps in the market
  • Develop and launch products faster
  • Optimize your pricing
  • Plan a profitable forward strategy

But it’s not always as simple as running a SWOT analysis. In the early days of e-commerce, sellers could experience massive growth with a single product and channel. In 2024, that’s no longer the case.

According to research from McKinsey, the top 10% of publicly traded retailers now account for 70% of the sector’s economic profit. In the words of the researchers themselves, “It’s a winner-take-most industry.”

In the future of retail, competitive insights aren’t optional. They’re critical. Let’s take a closer look at some of the leading competitor intelligence tactics to add to your playbook this year.

7 Tactics to Sharpen Your Competitive Analysis

The following list includes a mix of can’t-miss best practices, plus new and emerging tactics to test.

Not every approach will align with every business. Choose the tactics that best align with your specific category and business model as you plan your forward strategy.

1. Deploy the Best New Tools

There’s no way to sugarcoat it. Competitive intelligence research can be time-consuming

Fortunately, emerging technology like GenAI and automation are making it easier to pinpoint actionable signals amongst vast amounts of market data. With the right tools in your e-commerce tech stack, you can create an agile competitive intelligence program that delivers the insights you need, when you need them.

Here are some of the best competitive intelligence tools to test drive:

  • Helium10
  • Jungle Scout
  • Particl
  • Semrush
  • Ahrefs
  • Kompyte
  • CB Insights
  • AlphaSense
  • Owletter
  • Prisync
  • Wappalyzer
  • BuiltWith

There are countless other options. With the e-commerce software market growing at a solid 15% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), the market is awash with tools, apps, and software promising to help you outperform the competition.

Our advice? Don’t rush in. Instead, consider the size of your operation and your day-to-day competitive reporting needs.

The ability to run a competitive analysis on a monthly, weekly, or daily basis may be important for some businesses, and overkill for others. Depending on the size of your niche, product portfolio, and operations, a simple spreadsheet may be all you need.

However, if you already have an international footprint, with multiple product lines and sales channels, you may start to feel like you’re outgrowing your spreadsheet-based approach. In this case, investing in a competitive intelligence tool to do the heavy lifting for you will likely be the better option.

2. Predict and Plan New Product Launches

You might already be aware that more than a quarter of a company’s annual revenue can be attributed to new product launches. But did you know that 95% of new products fail

With thousands of new products coming to market each year, and only a few chances to get it right, proactive competitive intelligence and research can help you beat the odds.

Here are some ways to use your competitive intelligence to plan better launches:

  • Audit customer reviews and social media | Or take it a step further and interview customers who switched from competitors’ products to yours.
  • Pinpoint adjacent niches | For example, if you already sell skincare, use your competitive insights to predict whether your target audience may want to see beauty or hair care products in the future.
  • Accelerate your time to market | Apps like Particl can automate processes like competitor analysis, market research, and data collection to help you prove your concept and launch new products faster.

With the right tools and approach, competitive intelligence can help you capture emerging trends and maximize revenue at just the right time.

“In June, the color pink started selling like crazy, and then we had brands that were the major capturers of that,” says Josh Wilson, CEO of Particl. “Skims basically took all the pink products and put them in a collection for Barbie, and those products sold off the shelves,” he explains. “Those products actually hadn’t been selling very well before. It was a very clever way to use existing inventory, package it slightly differently, and sell. Other brands mimicked that.”

3. Assess Your Competitors’ Discoverability

Search engines are finally starting to overtake Amazon as the place where most product searches begin, with more than 50% of shoppers surveyed saying they use Google for product and brand discovery.

At the same time, consumers increasingly use social media to stumble upon new brands, looking to influencers and word-of-mouth recommendations to guide them to the right products. 

However, it’s getting harder to get discovered without paying for the privilege

In a marketing climate where the brands with the deepest pockets tend to take the lion’s share of sales, the right competitive intelligence is vital.

Here are some tips to increase your reach:

  • Uncover keyword gaps and opportunities | Use platforms that leverage traffic, engagement, and search engine results pages (SERP) analytics to find out what’s working for your competitors and pinpoint new opportunities to rank.
  • Identify social media patterns | Use social listening and social monitoring tools to understand your competitors’ strategies for getting noticed on social media.
  • Analyze your competitors’ visibility | Investigate location, demographics, search intent, and seasonality to assess where and when you might increase ad spend or branch out into new markets.

A unique brand voice backed by strong content remains a must. To elevate your marketing ROI, use a more structured, data-driven approach to ensure your message reaches the right audiences.

4. Analyze Competitor Pricing Strategies

Competitive pricing is about so much more than undercutting your competitors’ best deals

Raise prices too high, and risk losing customers. Drop them too low, and you risk your brand’s image — and maybe even your customer’s self-esteem.

Keep a close eye on your most similar competitors’ prices, with the aim of understanding and positioning. Not necessarily copying or beating their actual numbers.

Here are some ways to use competitive pricing intelligence to your advantage:

  • Monitor pricing across all channels | Analytics platforms like Prisync, Competera, and Repricer can help you monitor and implement dynamic pricing strategies across channels where needed, such as for low-cost or perishable goods.
  • Benchmark your pricing strategy | Observe how your competitors structure their pricing compared to how you structure your own. Notice which individual SKUs attract more sales when your competitors reduce their prices.
  • Never risk your brand’s values | Even if a competitor’s prices drop suddenly, resist the urge of engaging in a price war — especially if it could damage your brand. You don’t know the circumstances around their price adjustment, so put your brand first.

In modern commerce, no two competitive intelligence examples are the same.

While the old playbook may have included, or even encouraged, price wars between competitors, mega retailers like Five Below are actually increasing their investments in premium business models in order to remain competitive.

Do what works for your own niche and business model, without putting your margins at risk.

5. Understand Brand Sentiment

Today, 81% of consumers choose to research across multiple channels before purchasing.

Keeping your finger on the pulse of the conversations happening about your competitors across marketing and sales channels can help you optimize your messaging. 

Here are some ways to take advantage of how consumers feel about the competition:

  • See conversations other brands are having | Tools like Owletter and Milled.com can help you analyze competitor emails.
  • Analyze news, prices, and website updates | Platforms Kompyte, Klue, and Crayon can aggregate trending competitor insights so you can respond faster.
  • Use AI to mine customer reviews | Natural language processing (NLP) and other analytics tools can help you track customer sentiment across all sales channels and review sites.

You can use this information strategically, for example, to determine which demographics you want to target. Or you can use it tactically to jump on a short-term trend or opportunity.

For example, if a competing brand makes a major social media faux pas, you can follow Wendy’s epic example and respond with a clever hot take or marketing pivot.

6. Dissect Your Competitors’ Tech Stacks

Even the best new products and marketing strategies are meaningless if your customers can’t stand to be on your website.

You know you need lightning-fast load speeds and a zero-friction checkout process, but in 2024, there’s a whole lot more you can do to create a powerful customer experience.

The following tips will help you elevate your tech strategy:

  • Learn which tools are powering your competitors’ websites | Use platforms like BuiltWith and Wappalyzer to see which tools your competitors are using and understand where to invest in your own site upgrades. This could mean a smoother checkout process, more payment options, or deeper layers of personalization.
  • Get notified whenever competitors upgrade their tech or site | This is a great way to stay clued into upcoming campaigns, product launches, and more.
  • Track your competitors’ sales channels | Set real-time alerts for when a competitor joins a new digital sales channel or e-commerce platform.

Whether it’s adding a new sales channel to the mix, joining a new marketplace, or expanding cross-border, deeper insight into your competitors’ tech stacks can help you make better business decisions.

7. Know Where They’re Headed

Insights into your competitors’ business strategy can help you build robust battle cards and create a roadmap that takes your business far into the future.

Here are some tips to help you pinpoint your competitors’ long-term strategies:

  • Study your competitors annual reports | Review earnings calls, press releases and other publicly-available documentation to understand the bigger picture of how their business is evolving.
  • Track new hires | Tune into LinkedIn to keep an eye out for new hires and get a feel for the pace at which your competitors are growing. For example, have they recently hired a Director of Growth?
  • Share metrics and insights internally | Improve decision making at the team level by gathering data on your competitors and joining forces with your marketing team, sales team, and other key stakeholders to improve your forward planning.

Last but not least, don’t forget to take a close look at the leadership team.

“Consider the person making the decisions,” says John Horn, author of Inside the Competitor’s Mindset

Competitive intelligence professionals like John understand that business is inherently personal.

“When someone with a marketing background becomes the CEO, they won’t suddenly start optimizing the footprint of factories. That person will likely focus on marketing to help the company grow, partly because they will think, ‘My background is why the board hired me.’”

Seize Your Competitive Advantage

Your ability to stand out in a competitive environment can make or break your business. Plan for success now and in the future by selecting and implementing the right competitive intelligence strategy for you.

When you’re ready to make your next move, SellersFi is here to help. With flexible e-commerce finance solutions for every growth scenario, you can launch your next growth strategy in as little as 48 hours.

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