Sunday 17 November 2013

Retail Competition Now Comes From Many Directions

If your competitor at the market introduces a new feature that is likely to pinch your customers you do something about it, right?

Let's say you sell sports shoes and your competitor down the aisle has introduced a new fluoro orange style that is coming past your stall in shopping bags at an increasingly alarming rate. You make sure your next delivery has stock of orange fluoros so you can get a piece of the action.

What if your competitor is offering door to door delivery, or alternative payment methods, or after hours ordering? And I can tell you, they are. These are not necessarily your competitors down the aisle, but your competitors in the wider shopping environment - the worldwide shopping centre.

It would be nice if shopping only took place in our little cocoon at The Queen Victoria Market. We could keep track of what our competitors are doing and adjust our offer to maximise sales. But, thanks to the digital mobile age, there is no cocoon. Shoppers have access to all our competition all of the time. How often do you see customers wandering around with a mobile phone in their hand? Many are using mobiles to check what is available from our competitors. For those customers it is all part of the adventure.

The good news is that we can also offer things like door to door delivery, alternative payment methods, and after hours ordering. We can also check what our worldwide competitors are doing and adjust our offer to suit. We can be competitive in the worldwide shopping centre by using our low overhead retailing model and our flexibility to trump the other competitors out there.

A trader once said to me - "If you forget about the competition and just concentrate on giving your customer the best possible service, you will probably achieve the same result." The trader was right, but today's "best possible service" is more than just standing at your stall with a friendly smile. We need to show excellence in a whole range of retailing imperatives to be truly competitive.