How to Avoid the Pitfalls of Incomplete e-Commerce Competitive Intelligence
August 27, 2019
Get the Full Picture: e-Commerce Intelligence needs full-category analysis to deliver complete, robust & accurate competitive insights.
The foundation of reliable analysis starts with the right data. In the physical retail world, where data collection is necessarily a largely manual process, brands and retailers are forced to rely on samples and limited data to derive the category insights they use to drive business growth. It’s better than nothing, but it's also open to large margins of error, which means some decisions around traditional category management and sales fundamental are little better than guess work.
Full-category analysis delivers deeper, accurate & robust e-commerce insights.
The move to e-commerce, and the digitization of retail, provides the opportunity to do better. When it comes to e-commerce analytics, we no longer need to think in terms of sample data, or limited SKU lists. However, some e-commerce intelligence solutions on the market today restrict the number of products monitored, focusing on incomplete lists of known SKUs or product URLs in each online retailer. As a consequence, brands can be faced with yawning gaps in terms of competitive intelligence and strategy development. With the right technology, brands and retailers can access and analyze data for all products in a category – competitive and owned – and compare data across categories and online retailers, to deliver deeper and more robust insights and understanding to drive growth.
Full category Data Foundation
In the traditional brick and mortar retail channel, product manufacturers are largely dependent on promotions and product placement to drive sales. However, online brand owners have the opportunity to understand everything the buyer sees, and track consumer behavior as never before. Starting with the right data, brands can run hundreds of analyses to gain a real understanding of the consumer path-to-purchase, how to get products into online carts, and how to become part of repeat purchase cycles.
A foundation based on full category data that includes Availability, Content, Price & Promotions, Search Performance, and Ratings & Reviews information on every SKU in a category is the only way to deliver the insights brands need today to support their e-commerce and account management teams. It is only access to all product data in a category that means brands can get the accurate, timely, robust, and in-depth e-commerce analysis including the following:
Better Competitive Analysis – In the traditional retail channel, every brand will have a view of, who its competitors might be, but the insight is by necessity restricted. With limited-SKU or URL-based analysis, this constricted view feeds into e-commerce analytics, leading to an incomplete understanding of real competitive threats. Online the array of potential competitors is much larger. It goes beyond well-known rivals to include new upstart and digital native brands. Without full category data, some of these emerging brands and new products will be missed, giving new competitors time to establish a market presence before your brand has time to react. Do not get caught out.
Dynamic Benchmarking – When it comes to benchmarking against competitors, it’s important to ensure you compare your performance based on the right benchmarks and KPIs. In the world of e-commerce, the goalposts change regularly as more brands and product manufacturers target the channel to deliver sales. By analyzing all the category data, you will gain visibility of targets as they move, and always know what best practice really means, so you can set goals at the right level for your organisation.
Cross-Retailer Analysis – Different retailers will have different assortments and different capabilities. You may have a gut instinct about which retailers are best for your brands, but only with full category analysis can brands achieve a true understanding of each retailer’s capabilities and strategies, and how they develop over time. Armed with better insight means brands are better placed to align their own tactics to maximize channel effectiveness.
Historical Data – Many e-commerce intelligence offerings only start monitoring your products and brands when you sign on the dotted line to use the service. For many categories, analytics solutions such as eStoreMedia’s eStoreCheck, which collect and analyze data for all products in a category, can provide insight on how your brands performed for the months and years leading up to signing up to use the solution. This historical view is a significant advantage in setting goals and discovering gap-closing opportunities from day one, rather than waiting to build a critical mass of data before identifying actions.
Improved Data Quality – It seems counter intuitive that processing more data could lead to improved quality of the output. However, full category data means we can run more accurate statistical analyses to identify anomalies, and potential data quality problems, and fix them on the fly.
Focus: With a foundation of full-category, accurate data on hand the job of focusing in on the most important actions to drive advantage is more achievable. It’s not a matter of throwing data over the wall and leaving brands to sink or swim, but ensuring relevant data is easily accessible, and instantaneously actionable. This was a lesson hard learned over the years. For example, we simplified the reports in eStoreCheck from over 200 analytics views three years ago, to focus on a dozen gap-closing views today. The insights are still based on full-category analysis, but the focused results translate into more immediate actions and faster sales growth for the brands that we work with.
Crawl, Walk, Run, Succeed
The future success of your brands will depend on e-commerce. In fact, it’s not so much the future anymore, but the present. The e-commerce paradigm requires sophisticated digital insight and capabilities throughout your business, across all functions, including marketing, sales, product development and supply chain. Starting with insight based on full category data means you will be better positioned to start slowly, with one or two areas of focus, building up to encompass more capabilities within your e-commerce programme, all based on the same data foundation.
See a demonstration of eStoreMedia's leading e-commerce intelligence solution eStoreCheck to understand how full category analysis can ensure you are getting the full picture when it comes to e-commerce competitive analysis.