Compare Your Way To More Sales

Since I seem to be on a ‘stuff with shopping in the title’ kick, I wanted to touch on something you’ve probably all seen done, but never considered doing yourself: Comparison shopping.

What is comparison shopping? Well have you ever been in a store, and seen a person with a clipboard and other accoutrements in the seat portion of their cart, who seem to stare at all the items, make notes, and never buy anything? Then you’ve spotted the elusive ‘Comparison Shopper’ (and, if I knew the Latin name, this is where I would deposit it in the monologue). They’re sent to rival establishments to get a feel for pricing on similar or same items. They also test the atmosphere (not literally) and feel of the competition. They seek out intel on unannounced sales, specials, clearances, and on and on. To put it mildly, they’re the enemy spy in plain clothes.

And I, being a huge fan of Sun Tzu’s masterwork “The Art of War”, always remember the gist of all the lines that center around knowing one’s enemy as thyself. Basically, this is an ancient Chinese genius telling you to keep a sharp eye on your competition,  but doing so from the grave in a translated form. OoOoOo… spooky, I know!

Why am I spewing all of this? In order to ask you this question: Have you ever considered comparison shopping? Now – hear me out. I know that a great many of you regular readers are local, small business owners. Many, in fact, have no SPECIFIC direct rivals in the area. Or at least, you don’t think you do. I’m betting that those of you who believe that last statement are, in fact, wrong. There may be a few exceptions, but I doubt it.

Here’s what’s strolling around my brain at the moment: Many of you compete with stores offering SIMILAR items, stores that offer more commercial versions of your items, or stores that offer the same things (especially you in the service industry.) So why not take full, legal, advantage of the vast amount of data you can glean from their establishments?

For instance: Why not take weekly, monthly, etc. trips to their venue to have a look around. Are they selling incidentals or impulse items that would work in your store? What specials, or promotions are they offering that you could modify to fit your business model? How does their store feel? How does it smell? Who are the primary clientele? How is the lighting? Are they discontinuing something? If so, will someone tell you why? What are their employees like? Does anyone seem miffed, confused, or lost in the place – and, if so – why?

In the end, there’s a TON of great information you can take in with all six of your senses… oh, sorry: five. I forget sometimes that you’re not all psychic. So take a trip, scout the competition, and learn from their movements. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

And if you find them doing it to you, remember: All’s fair in love and war.


~ by digitalninjasmedia on January 3, 2012.

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