The Ultimate Guide to Competitive Analysis for eCommerce Sites

It seems the competitiveness in the eCommerce field isn’t slowing down. Who would’ve known? Everybody. Literally everybody. And as with any other business, there are a couple of big players that seem to sell everything people need. What’s left for the smaller fish is to feed off the crumbs.

Although “the crumbs” are still very profitable, they are oversaturated. No matter how deep in the niche an eCommerce business goes, probably someone has already situated themselves as it’s leader. When life gives you lemons (well, you know the rest) is a staple for eCommerce websites. So, they set out for a deep, detailed competitor analysis, which would give them leverage in this difficult race.

Let’s start with the basics before going into details.

What is Competitor Analysis?

The main benefit of a thorough competitor analysis is that it enables businesses to get useful data on competitors' strategies, plans, strengths, and most importantly their weaknesses. That way, your eCommerce businesses can get a clear picture of other websites' work and their unique ways of reaching the same customers you go after.

Another thing coming from a good competitor analysis is that you can identify why some of your marketing activities didn’t work out in the past. That kind of info allows you to modify and use the same strategies in the future.

How to do Competitive Analysis?

Make a list of the most important questions regarding your competitors and define the different channels you can use in the process of answering them.

Here are our suggestions for competitor research and the basic insights every eCommerce business should have at all times to even being hoping at a promising run in the competitive eCommerce field.

1. List of Competitors
2. Their Advertising
3. Their SEO
4. Their Social Media Activity
5. Identifying Their Channels
6. Their Weaknesses/Strengths
7. Potential Competitor Threats

Let’s go through some of them!

Analyse your eCommerce competitors

1. List of Competitors

Many eCommerce businesses, like a lot of brick and mortar stores, aren’t able to identify all their competitors. You may wonder: “How is that possible? Don’t they Google their products and see the brands listed above or below them?” They probably do, and they stop at that, which is the main problem.

Let me clarify this with an example: If you’re selling laptops online, your main competitors are, of course, other brands that sell laptops. But, chances are you’re not seeing the whole picture. What if a large portion of your potential customers can’t decide whether they should purchase a laptop or a tablet, which pretty much offers the same capabilities?

So, before defining your competitors, look at the products you sell. Are they easily substituted by different types of products? Are your products offering unique value that can’t be satisfied with anything else on the market?

Ok, now you have the right mindset for coming up with a list of all your competitors!

Let’s cover how you can identify your eCommerce competitors. Like we already mentioned, the number one thing you need to do is to Google Search the different types of products you sell and closely look at the most relevant results. The top place holders of the results page are most likely investing a lot of time and money on their SEO activities, and the fact that you’re not there means that they’re doing a better job than you..

Another way to locate your competitors is through the world’s largest retailer, Amazon.

Use the right tools for conducting a deep competitor analysis

2. What’s Their Offer

Once you have a list of the most important competitors (direct and indirect), you can start analyzing their websites.

We put together a list of all aspects you should note while doing your analysis:
- How detailed their product descriptions are
- Quality of product images
- Their Call to Actions text and button placements
- The CTAs for newsletters sign ups
- The speed of their website
- How many blogs they’ve written in the last month

Additional tips for the special-agents ones:
* Sign up to their newsletter for regular updates about your competitors
* Subscribe to their Blog
* Like them on social media
* Add an item in your cart and abandon the checkout process (wait for an abandoned cart email)
* Buy one of their products!

While you’re at it, ask yourself one important question: What is their point of product differentiation?

Advertising

Are your eCommerce competitors using Google Ads to boost their sales?

Just type different keywords in Google, Bing or Yahoo. You’ll probably see their sponsored ads at the top of the search results page (try to resist not to click their ads). If you’re not sure for some competitor that they’re using GoogleAds, look for their brand name because they’re probably bidding on it.

There are online tools for spying competitors that can give you data you haven’t even thought of. For example, SpyFu lets you explore all ads that your competitor ever ran using Google Ads. Not only that, but they also list the most successful keywords that they had in their accounts along with the ad copy that worked best. If you want to explore more tools that will ease your competitor research, read our article on The Ultimate Tools for Spying Your Competitors on Social Media.

Conducting a competitor analysis

SEO

Realizing what your competitors are focusing on regarding SEO is one of the most important parts of the overall competitor analysis. Get a better understanding of their SEO strategy by simply checking their on-page keyword strategies and the inbound links pointing at their sites.

Also, identify their biggest source of backlinks and consider contacting them for a link to your website as well (only in cases where they have a bigger Domain Authority than yours). Do some quick searches on different search engines to determine the rankings of your competitors.
Read our article for a better understanding of SEO for eCommerce sites.

Social Media

One of the best ways to assess the online reputation of your competitors is by reading what is published on websites like Yelp, Citysearch, and other industry websites that are full of people’s experiences with brands. Note the number of reviews they have as compared to yours and the level of customer satisfaction they got. What you’re hoping to find here are common complaints that point to flaws in their product or service, which you can further promote as your strength.

To Wrap Up

Once you have the data on all these different variables, you’ll be able to piece together a map of your competitors, and also locate the right place for your eCommerce business. Let’s not forget that even the best players can’t be everything to everyone. You may be up against players who are invincible in some aspects of the business, but chances are they have left profitable opportunities for you. Complete competitor research will show you those opportunities and help you adjust your strategy accordingly.

If you enjoyed this read, feel free to check out our previous guide that goes in-depth on PPC for eCommerce. Also, don’t forget to Subscribe to Our Newsletter!