Swati Bhalla
July 20, 2015

Competition Benchmarking

It is human nature to compete. Sports, politics or in business, we compete for prestige, recognition, awards and market share. Competition is the opposite of cooperation. It arises whenever two or more parties strive for a goal which cannot be shared.

Competition can be direct (Frooty v/s Minute Maid) or indirect (Minute Maid v/s Coke) or could be based out of marketing budgets (Coke v/s Pepsi). There is one thing that no industry can deny, competition exists. Competition is a major factor in retail. Every brand is in competition with at least one other brand over the same group of customers. To prepare for the future, to be ready for it, one has to first and foremost accept the fact that competition exists. Direct or in-direct, every brand is challenged by another brand. For those who believe they have no competition, all I can say is wake up! Look Around! Monopoly does not exist, nor does perfect competition.

“Remote shopping, while entirely feasible, will flop” Time Magazine, 1966. Anyone with a brick and motor store would be truly hoping this prediction had come true! How does one prepare for a changing retail environment? How do we make sure our brand always has a cutting edge? Only a brand that is ready to evolve with the changing times will survive. There are stores that now offer online retail as well. Order online, pick-up from store, is their new mantra. Some brands are also offering to exchange the product in their stores, even if it was shopped online on their website. How can we innovate to survive?

What is your competition doing to get more footfalls? Are they offering a better shopping experience? How is your competition using Visual Merchandising to increase conversions? To answer questions like these, brands indulge in competition benchmarking; to position one-self against competition and to understand where your brand stands. There are various parameters used for benchmarking a brand. They can be classified as Walk-in drivers, Engagement drivers and Purchase drivers.

A retailer uses various tools to attract customers. Visual Merchandising is one of the tools. A well styled display will most certainly get more eyeballs. Most brands use its windows to get more customers in the store. Windows can talk about running offers, welcome a season or talk about the latest collection. Brands need to be aware of what the competition is promoting in its windows, is it offer led or merchandise driven displays.

Getting a customer into the store is just the first step; the more time a customer spends in a store, chances of him making a purchase is higher. The customer needs to be engaged. Another important aspect of understanding your competition better is to analyse the shopping experience they offer. Shopping experience would include elements that form the store’s atmosphere and the kind of services the brand offers. Employee-customer interaction and store atmospherics play a very important role in the process of building a brands image. Aspects like store fragrance, store lighting, music in the store and the store temperature (air conditioning), all add on to the store’s shopping experience.

Brands don’t just talk about the product and its features in the windows, but continue it inside the store as well. With the help of visual merchandisers, brands are creating props that help them create a story