Last updateTue, 17 Jul 2018 10pm

What you can learn from your competition


Everyone worries about their competition - some people even obsess about them! Being overly aware of your competition can become a problem if it turns into a fixation. The best businesses do their own thing and don’t allow what they can’t control to bother them.

Having said that, looking at what your competitors do and learning from it is a positive way to impact your business if you adopt their best practices. But who are your competitors? It’s easy to assume it’s just the other jewelers in your mall - but they aren’t the only one’s who might be competing with you for the shopper’s dollar.

Most businesses that attract disposable income are your competition. Geography is no longer the only criteria either. Once upon a time you only had to worry about your suburb or town; now it’s the whole world. Here are a few tips on how you can benefit from looking at your competitors.

1. Define your competition. As we’ve established, you aren’t just talking about your industry competitors, but those who are also after your customers. One of the closest competitors (and one you can learn from) is the cosmetics and perfume industries. They are heavily brand driven (as jewelry is becoming) and are experts at selling the dream. What can you learn from this industry?

2. Look for promotional ideas that work. If you see a great idea, use it! There is no such thing as an original idea anymore. Rather than cursing your competition, look at what they do that works. I know store owners who have successfully adopted new promotional ideas they saw being used by building supplies companies. There are good ideas everywhere. Keep your eyes open and see what can work for you.

3. Study their customer service. What do you like about it? What don’t you like? What do they do well that you can adopt?

4. What about guarantees? Some businesses offer very effective guarantees that help them close the sale. Do you know what your competition offers in this way? How do you counter it? Are there guarantee ideas you’ve seen other businesses use that could work well for you? Why not ask them about it?

5. Building a customer list. Again many businesses run successful loyalty programs that bring customers back regularly. Are you on the mailing list of someone whose marketing you admire? Why not talk to them about how they do it?

6. Seek out staff. If you’re looking for new staff, are there people who have given you a good customer experience at other businesses? Do you have a hit list of potential people you’d like to employ? Why wonder if you’re next hiring is any good when you can choose people who have made a great impression on you.

7. Have you compared prices? It always interesting to mystery shop direct competitors. What do they charge for repairs and comparable product? If you don’t know then you aren’t really sure what you’re up against.

8. Check out windows. You can get great ideas for window displays and cabinet layouts from other businesses. Look at the props they use. How are they being innovative? What themes do you love that you can use yourself?

9. Read their catalogs. Make a point of checking out the catalogs of direct competitors. What styles appear regularly? If the item has appeared in more than one catalog chances are it’s a good seller. Could you be including something similar in your range?

10. Follow their social media. This is a great way to see what their customers and fans respond to. What sorts of posts get the best response? This is a clue to what you can be posting on your social media pages. If they are showing images of product that is well received even better! Here again is a hint of the sort of thing that might sell well for you. You can spot new trends through this sort of thing.

11.  Look overseas. Thanks to the internet your competition is now global - but this also gives you access to new ideas happening elsewhere that you can see are working well. If it works well somewhere else, then it will probably work where you are.

Don’t personalize your competition. It’s too easy to become emotional about the impact others have on your business. Always remember you can’t control what they do, but you can control your actions. See your competitors as businesses that can make you better and learn from them. The impact on your bottom line might leave you feeling grateful that they are around.

David Brown is President of the Edge Retail Academy, an organization devoted to the ongoing measurement and growth of jewelry store performance and profitability. For further information about the Academy’s management mentoring and industry benchmarking reports contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone toll free 877-569-8657.