Who is your competition? This might seem like a basic question, but it is easy to miss a competitor in any given situation. After all, every business has several sets of competitors; if you have multiple product lines, each line has its own group vying for dollars. Targeting competitors is as important – and as difficult – as targeting customers.

Your own particular competitive landscape depends partially on your structure. For brick and mortar retailers, known rivals could poach an uncomfortable portion of business locally or regionally, but they may only nibble at the margins of your potential share of online traffic. Retailers engaging purely online may seem to occupy a simpler space, but it’s important to recognize the possibly subtle differences among those businesses competing for your preferred keywords and those who compete in your specific product space.  In other words, there might be a gap separating the results of a competitive keyword analysis and actual consumer purchase behavior.

Beware AssumptionseCommerce competition

Simply emulating one aspect of a competitor’s online tactic set could easily backfire. Company X might be seen as the most successful player on the block, but how do you know they haven’t been declining lately because of poorly-chosen keywords or ad purchases? Further, are you sure you are fighting over the same group of customers?

As with most business metrics, competitive analysis must be conducted in a wide-perspective environment if it is to lead to better insights – which customers you are missing today and how you can better reach them tomorrow. It is tempting to focus on a superficial sampling of competition, especially if the planned follow-up strategy is superficial. What are you going to do with the information you gather?  If you are engaging an eCommerce or internet design business, make sure they can capably answer these strategic marketing questions. It is much easier to add effective tactical approaches later if the platform was strategically chosen, designed and assembled from the start.