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When starting an ecommerce store for the first time, or even if you have an established ecommerce store, it’s important to spend time researching what your competitors are doing so that you can remain competitive.

It is a good idea to go through the whole customer experience on your competitor’s sites, from searching for a product on Google right up until the checkout stage.

Follow the below steps to thoroughly test out your competitor’s sites:

1) Enter one of your main keywords into Google

2) Click on the top result (ensure it is an ecommerce store, not a Wikipedia page or something else unrelated)

3) Take note of where you land on the site - is it a landing page, the home page or a product page? Where would you expect to land?

4) Try to find a product that you sell / intend to sell. What kind of content do they have on their website? Are there product images and descriptions unique? Do they upsell / cross sell? What price are they selling the product at?

5) Add the product to the shopping cart and go through the checkout process, how easy is it to checkout? Is there a guest checkout option? Are shipping fees displayed prominently? What payment / shipping options do they offer?

6) You could even go one step further and actually order a product to see what their shipping / packing services are like, then go through the returns process to see how this is handled. Don’t overdo this though as it’s unethical.

7) If you do place an order, take note of any follow up emails you receive, have you been added to a weekly / monthly newsletter?

Once you have completed this process, repeat for the next three or four competitor sites in Google and write up a list of things you liked and didn’t like about each of your experiences ensuring you stay in the mind frame of a customer, not a competitor. You can then use this list to improve the customer experience in your own store.

Weekly Monitoring
Spend around one hour per week monitoring the below factors in your competitor’s stores:

New products – They may have an exciting new product range you weren’t aware of.
Promotions - Check if they are running promotions that may affect your business.
Pricing – You may have the opportunity to undercut their pricing strategy, or offer better value.
Ideas – See if there are any ideas for promotions / competitions you can use for your business.
Poor selling products - Their clearance / sale items are products you should probably avoid.

Don’t directly copy your best competitors, you will never succeed if you do this, instead just be aware of trends and actions by your competitors that will impact your business. Pick out the best features of your four or five main competitors websites and try to add them to your own website. Don’t rely solely on this tactic, try to come up with your own ideas to really set yourself apart from the competition.

Happy Selling!

VP-ASP Shopping Cart


Very useful (Wednesday, March 13, 2013 00:00)
Hi Gareth,

I really enjoy doing competitor research, it''s a great way to find inspiration for new ideas.

I would also advise that merchants checkout out the social media accounts of their competitors too as these can provide additional inspiration.

Mike - WA
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