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eCommerce Merchandising: 6 Things You Can Learn from Your Competitor’s Assortments

As a merchant, the amount of time you spend browsing competitors’ websites at work can be surprising. In our experience, merchants are ahead of the curve when it comes to recognizing the value of looking at their rivals’ offerings. Given that this is a significant investment of your time and energy, we want to help you maximize what you’re getting out of it. In this post we will examine six important things you can learn from your competitors’ assortments—take a look and see if there are any tools you can add to your repertoire.

For the sake of brevity, we’ll assume that you already make it a habit to examine competitor offerings. You’re familiar with the effort required to overcome the challenges but also the value that can be unlocked. We’ll be using charts from our application—they’re an automated version of the data that you might track manually. With that cleared up, let’s jump right into some of the lessons to be learned.

1. Discover Trending and Lucrative Categories

A sure sign of a winning category is a gradual increase in SKU count over time. When multiple competitors are adding SKUs and the average price for the category is stable, you’re onto something big. Likewise, watch out for categories where prices and SKU counts are falling simultaneously.

2. Evaluate Overall Pricing Strategy and Gaps in Your Price Ranges

Are you underrepresented at the high end or the low end of prices? Do you offer products in the same price ranges your competitors do? Are your prices set correctly for your target market? The answer to each of these questions depends on what your competitors are doing. Aggregating prices can give you a quick representation of how your assortment is positioned in the market.

3. Find New Areas to Expand Ahead of Competitors

Sometimes the most valuable thing is what you don’t find. If you’re considering adding a new category, you can target areas that your competitors are absent from or underrepresented in. Just make sure to take a look at their historical data to ensure you’re not recreating one of their bad experiments.

4. Parse Best and Worst Selling Products

Best and worst selling products share a surprising characteristic: longevity. If a product sticks around for a long period of time, there are high odds it goes in one of those buckets. One surefire method of separating the two is to take a look at historical promotions for each product. If promos are increasing in frequency or size for a product, you’ve likely found a dud. Is that same product showing up week after week? It’s probably worth taking a closer look.

5. Understand Assortment Changes for Holiday Periods

Some merchants drastically alter their SKU allocations, open up new categories, and promote certain products during different holiday periods. Changes in assortment often guide customers to the most lucrative products during times of intense competitive pressure. Regardless of your strategy, you can use past holiday periods to determine your strategy for this year.

6. Identify New Products While They’re Still New

This one is straightforward—you can review the products your competitors introduce each week to make sure you’re not missing out on something new. It might sound simple, but a systematic approach will keep you from missing the “next big thing.”

The Power of Context Through a Competitive Intelligence Platform

As you probably noticed, some of the most interesting lessons about assortments often involve more than pure assortment data. Price and promotion data combined often provide the final piece of context to unlock the puzzle. Combining your efforts with those of the pricing and marketing teams can pay dividends to everyone involved.

Contributing Writer: Baxter Roberson

Min-Jee Hwang

Min-Jee is the former Director of Marketing at Wiser. She has extensive experience working with SaaS companies and holds a BA from Carnegie Mellon University and an MBA from NYU Stern.

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