[Guest post by Burc Tanir]
A multi-factorial competitive landscape
Market competition in e-commerce is not a hidden fact at all.
There are literally millions of e-commerce companies competing with each other in this global arena, in order to grab the attention and eventually the spending of the online shoppers.
The most interesting thing about the competition in e-commerce is that it’s a really multi-factorial market force, as the online shoppers’ purchasing decisions depend on many factors. (For more theoretical understanding of competitive market forces, check out Porter’s framework.)
Considering that, it’s valid to state that e-commerce companies are actually competing in a game-like environment with several episodes/levels to be completed before ending up with success, i.e. the purchase.
In this blog post, we’ll be focusing on the effect of pricing and assortment on e-commerce competition and explain how gaining competitive intelligence regarding these factors, can effectively boost the marketing ROI for each dollar spent by e-commerce companies to acquire and retain their customers.
60% of online shoppers consider pricing as their strongest purchase decision motivator
Marketing is all about empathy.
E-commerce marketing tactics derived from a mindset that puts itself in the shoes of their customers, never fail to achieve solid results.
Therefore, it’s worth understanding what online shoppers care about before making a purchasing decision.
Considering that nearly %25 of e-commerce traffic comes from comparison shopping engines, %90 of online shoppers invest time online to compare deals, and pricing is being listed as the top factor affecting the purchase decision by %60 of online shoppers, it’s a wise move for all sizes of e-commerce companies from all around the world to aim for competitive, attractive online price.
From the marketing perspective, the power of competitive pricing comes into play both while acquiring website traffic and converting those visitors into loyal shoppers.
Competitive prices will bring in more traffic into your website – i.e. it’ll add scalability into that particular paid channel of yours – and more importantly, as those visitors will be simultaneously browsing through the competitor web-shops, for the exact same product the are looking for, they will be picking up yours – the more competitive offering – out of all possible options.
In hard numbers, this means more sales out of same number of clicks/visits, i.e. more sales out of same amount of ad spending.
Arrange your product marketing budget according to the current market competition
Gaining competitive pricing intelligence would not necessarily always force you to change prices, but can also give you a better understanding about your particular products’ market position, even without making any changes at their prices and margins.
By this way, you can understand which products of yours already have a competitive pricing vs. the others, and you may notice that, you are not spending any marketing budget on that part of your assortment. However, without compromising on any margin cuts or something, you can get very solid ROI in case you’d market those particular products online, as the visitors that you’d gain out of that campaign would eventually pick your shop, as you already have the competitive pricing.
In other words, by understanding the market prices, you also understand your pricing better.
Similarly, you may notice that, you focus on a particular group of products with your marketing efforts, and spare most of your budget there, but actually your prices are totally uncompetitive vs. your competitors.
In this case, you’ll simply end up with dry clicks with terribly low conversion rates, as again your visitors will be browsing the competitors and will be picking up their sites vs. yours, and you will end up spending on clicks that won’t bring in much, if not anything.
What you are selling matters as much as how much you are selling them for
We all know that shoppers have different levels of awareness and interest prior to their purchases. Some of them, have a clear product in mind to be bought, but some of them need to compare different brands of choice, before making the purchase. There are even ones, that do not even have the intention of buying something when they first visit your web shop but end up buying something.
Considering such a mix of potential customers, e-commerce companies should pay serious amount of attention into their assortment planning. Here again, the competitive forces are in play, indeed.
The most obvious strategy here is to know what customers are most commonly looking for or are being attracted to, and to stock them at certain levels, and plan the replenishments accordingly, so that those items do not go out of stock.
While doing this, e-commerce companies should be paying attention in their competitors’ assortments as much as they do for their own stores.
Because, when we consider the world of e-commerce as a huge online marketplace, each website is actually an independent merchant, that the shoppers can choose from. Therefore, what customers have in mind is that there is a global assortment of products online, and some of them match with this web shop, some of them with that etc.
Just in parallel with this fact –again by applying empathy- e-commerce companies all sizes should be aiming to match the majority of this desired assortment.
By monitoring competitors’ assortments, e-commerce companies can learn about new popular brands in the market, or new particular products in certain categories, and can aim to stock them as soon as possible.
When we look at this strategy, again from the marketing perspective, it also falls in the category of conversion optimization. As it again deals with converting visitors by offering them more attractive choices – this time not the prices, but the product options.
Comparing assortment vs. competitor will let companies to be full in stock for the brands that they invest marketing budgets in, and will avoid such cases like a visitor browsing through the shop for a particular brands’ particular product, but end up not finding it.
Another aspect of assortment is managing stock availabilities, and taking dynamic actions against the stock availabilities of competitors.
For example, consider a popular product that you are competing with harshly with your competitors. That product might go out of stock at one or two or more competitors at some point and by knowing that, you can invest even further on ad spending for that product and as shoppers won’t be able to find that product that you are advertising in the shops that they’d additionally search for, your clicks will end up with much more conversions.
In this case, another tactic can be aiming for even higher margins for each conversion, as the shoppers will not to able to compare prices vs. others – because a competitive price without the product in stock is nothing – e-commerce companies can lift up their margins temporarily for products that go out of stock at their competitors and can make money out of each sale.
All sizes of e-commerce companies can access automated competitive pricing and assortment monitoring
The biggest paradigm shift occurring as we move towards online – or let’s say, omni-channel – retailing is that, the market data gets more and more digital, and this enables the development of tools that deliver and mine market data automatically.
For competitive pricing and assortment intelligence, that’s the case too. In physical retail, companies heavily rely on conventional big-name market intelligence companies that gather the data manually from the market through a crowded team of field-workers. However, in e-commerce, all this data is publicly available online, i.e. it can populated automatically by applying technology.
Our company Prisync has gained solid expertise in this particular field of competitive pricing and assortment intelligence, and thanks to the full automation that we built, all sizes of e-commerce companies can afford our solution and boost their marketing spending and much more, as we tried to explained through the lines of this article.
In order to see Prisync in live action for your own e-commerce company, just sign up free for 14 days.