Once you have chosen the product to sell and figured out your business model, the next step is to analyze the key players in your market to determine opportunities and threats.
All ecommerce companies have competitors. If you aren’t aware of the ins and outs of your competition landscape, you could be losing the opportunity to outdo your direct and indirect competitors by coming up with the strategy they haven’t taken advantage of yet. But how can you do that? By conducting an ecommerce business competitor analysis.
Competitive landscape analysis is an integral part of your ecommerce business plan, that helps you predict changes in the market, recognize new trends, and be at the forefront of what’s working within your niche market.
If you don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog post, we cover what ecommerce competitive analysis is, how to write a competitive analysis matrix, and provide a free competitive analysis example template to do it quickly. Let’s dive in.
What is a competitive analysis report and why does it matter for ecommerce?
A competitive analysis is a process of gathering and analyzing information to define major competitors on the market and research their company, products, price offers, market positioning, strengths, and weaknesses. Collecting and evaluating the information on competitors is essential for successful business strategies that enhance decision-making.
To make your analysis effective, it’s essential to:
- Choose the right competitors to analyze
- Identify which factors of your competitors’ ecommerce brand are worth reviewing
- Know where to search for the information
- Figure out how you can use these insights to increase sales for your own business
Executed properly, a competitive matrix will provide a great variety of quantitative and qualitative data. Researching your major competitors helps you discover:
- Ongoing and potential threats in the market
- Get a comprehensive understanding of your market position
- Develop your USP (unique selling proposition)
- Find out each competitor’s market share
- Determine industry trends
- Identify your pricing strategies
- Get milestones to measure your growth against your key competitors
- Discover market sectors that aren’t fully occupied by competitors
- Find out how to differentiate your products and services
Looking to get started right away?Download our free competitive analysis template.
How to do an ecommerce competitive analysis
Follow the steps outlined here to keep your research organized properly.
Step 1: Create a list of competitors
Start by creating a list of at least 3-5 of your major competitors. How to find competitors of a company? There is a wide range of ways to define key players in your niche, but Google and Amazon are the places, where you should start your research.
First of all, choose the keywords that characterize your ecommerce company the best. Then, search this keyword on Google and write down all ecommerce companies that rank on the first 2-3 pages.
When searching for your competitors, make sure that you’re using the right location. To enhance your search and be sure that you are not missing out on any competitors, use tools such as SEMrush and AnswerThePublic to find out as many relevant keywords as possible.
Look for the competitors that:
- Provide similar types of products or services
- Are of a similar size as your ecommerce business
- Serve the same or slightly different market
- Have a similar business model
For instance, if you’re planning to sell handmade soap online, large grocery shops generally aren’t your direct competitors, even if they sell handmade soap in place. Search for small to medium-level producers of handmade soap and similar products for personal care.
Other tools you can use to find information about the competitive landscape are Alexa, Linkedin, and Keyword Spy. As you identify your key competitors, it’s better to categorize them into different groups, from primary competitors to those you still should be aware of like secondary and tertiary competitors. Here is how to classify merchants in your market:
- Primary competitors are your direct competitors, that are trading the same products/services in the same niche or provide similar products. These are the companies that shoppers compare you to. For example, Apple and Samsung are the primary competitors.
- Secondary competitors are those companies that are selling similar products to a totally different target audience or provide a high- or low-end version of your product. For example, Chanel and Zara are secondary competitors.
- Tertiary competitors are related companies who are selling to the same target audience but don’t offer the same products as you. Tertiary competitors are very useful to know when you’re planning to expand your product catalog or cooperate in the future. For example, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s are tertiary competitors.
When documenting your competitors include basic information such as the name of the company, location, product offering, and category of the competition.
Step 2: Determine what products your competitors provide
The next step is to assess your competitors’ product lines. Whether it’s a fashion store or food delivery website, every ecommerce company has a product or service to offer.
The product feature comparison is one of the most essential aspects of the competitive analysis that enables you to figure out what sets your business apart. Along with particular product features, here are some other characteristics that you should add:
- Product quality
- Customer support
We also recommend that you answer some questions regarding products our main competitors are offering:
- Does your competitor provide low-cost or high-cost products?
- Is your competitor applying various pricing strategies for online shopping versus physical stores?
- How do they manufacture their products?
- What are the needs of their target audience?
Step 3: Identify your competitor’s market positioning
A competitor’s market positioning is a vital part without which you won’t get a full picture of your competitive landscape. Market share represents the portion of an industry controlled by a particular company over a certain period of time.
The competitive positioning matrix helps your online business to explore the potential to expand and spot trends in the ecommerce industry. The research can help you come up with the customer personas that will determine your marketing strategies along the way, and enable you to be ready for any changes that might happen to the marketplace.
We recommend you conduct primary market research that includes customer interviews, online polls, and in-person target groups. You could also check company records, research the present economic situation, and analyze relevant technological advancements.
To collect as much data as possible you can sign up for your competitor’s newsletter, check frequently their blog to see what content they are covering, and follow them on social media (Facebook, Instagram) to analyze how they communicate their brand to customers. By figuring out your competitor’s market positioning, you’ll get a clear picture of your own market’s needs and expectations.
Step 4: Analyze your competitors from a marketing perspective
The next step of our analysis is to perform competitive analysis in marketing. Marketing is one of the parts where you’ll be face-to-face in competition. For this reason, to have an understanding not just of your own marketing tactic, but your key competitors as well. Review the following:
- Social Media
Identify the social media channels where your competitors have a presence, the number of their followers on each channel, and the frequency of post publications. Check the engagement (comments, likes, and shares) of their followers to get a hint about their performance.
Visit each competitor’s website as a regular customer. The aim of website competitor analysis is to analyze user experience. Research the homepage, category page, navigation, search options, template, graphic design, and load time. Visit the online store on both desktop and mobile.
- Search Engine Optimization
When people are planning to buy a product on the Internet, they are likely to first look for it on the first three Google pages. Your ecommerce website has to rank high on Google to maximize your traffic potential. To analyze your competitors with regard to SEO, you should determine potential keywords. Use SemRush, Moz, or Similarweb tools to perform a complete SEO analysis on keywords.
A competitor’s blog is a part of competitor analysis in digital marketing you should also pay attention to. Content marketing is a key element of any SEO strategy. Check the frequency of new publications and if there are comments or shares on social media.
- Search Engine Marketing
Focusing on organic search is vital, but understanding the paid advertising strategy of your competition is also worth doing. You can easily analyze your competitor’s strategy on Google by just typing the relevant keywords that you want to get a high position for and check what ads show up on the first pages. In terms of banner ads, you can use an ad strategy tool such as Adbeat. Just write the domain of your competitor and you’ll get all their ads on Google.
Don’t forget to analyze current sales, discounts, and third-party events aimed to gain new customers
Step 5: Perform a SWOT Analysis
The last step is to perform an ecommerce SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis to evaluate your competitive position. What are their customers like the most and what are they complaining about?
First of all, name their strengths and think about how well you can adjust to compete with their strong sides. Then, name their weaknesses and check if their weaknesses provide an opportunity for you. By doing a SWOT analysis, you can start to uncover strong and weak points within your own brand.
Visit your key competitors’ Facebook and Instagram comments and check out reviews on their online store If there is a possibility to talk to your competitors’ customers face-to-face, do it. You can use all of this information in your favor and see a business’ advantages and disadvantages based on what its customers see.
Conducting an Ecommerce Competitor Analysis: What’s next?
The main objective for your ecommerce business should keep one step ahead. With all the provided information, you can come up with a competitive strategy that can help to beat out the competition and establish yourself in your target market.
By conducting an ecommerce competitive analysis, you will be able to dominate the market and spot new opportunities to make your business stand out. With the above competitor analysis template as an entry point, along with the tools we have covered, you will have a better understanding of how to approach the competitive analysis.