Shelf Intelligence

How to Win with In-Store Competitive Intelligence

We’ve all heard about how the rise of eCommerce is killing the traditional brick-and-mortar store. That certainly rings true for some industries and categories more than others, but on the whole 91 percent of all retail is still done in-store. RetailDive notes the top two reasons customers are shopping in-store as being able to see, touch, feel, and try out the items, as well as take the items home immediately. These two factors can’t be satisfied by online shopping today. Next day shipping or 2-day shipping is not instant enough for shoppers and products can’t be fully experienced through online shopping channels.

The importance of touching the product and purchasing it immediately emphasizes the need for brands and retailers to continue to enhance and optimize the in-store experience. Furthermore, in-store competitive intelligence should be used to measure how the competition looks in-store when compared to their own brands.

The Role of In-Store Competitive Intelligence

Since the vast majority of retail sales happen in-store, it’s only natural for brands and retailers to make sure that they are putting their best foot forward in brick and mortar stores. This means that competitive monitoring is a must. There’s no excuse to be unaware of how competitor displays stack up or how often your competitors run promotions with the plethora of technologies out there aiming to bring this important data to light. In particular, in-store competitive intelligence software is making this retail data actionable.


As a quick refresher, competitive intelligence is defined as, “The legal and ethical collection and analysis of information regarding the capabilities, vulnerabilities, and intentions of a business competitor.” The majority of competitive intelligence is traditionally done through online conjoint studies, pricing studies, or competitive pricing research. No option truly depicts the circumstance the shopper has at the actual shelf. That would seem to be the most important piece of the puzzle, so how does a brand gather in-store competitive intelligence and how do they use it to their advantage?

Technology Makes In-Store Data Gathering Possible

Technologies such as beacons, smart shelves, and sensors are all a step in the right direction for gathering in-store data, whether on your own brand or the competitions’. Smart shelves provide a solution for inventory management and automation to allow retailers to proactively stock a product that’s low and avoid the out-of-stock issue altogether. Beacon technology can provide an item’s exact location in the store and what items are shelved next to it.

Still, these technologies do not paint a full picture of what’s happening in the store. A customer’s perspective in a physical retail location is a key piece of in-store competitive intelligence. Online research provides a hypothetical shopping circumstance, but the data you need helps illuminate what’s happening when the customer is actually shopping for your product.


The Power of the Crowd

The rise of the mobile workforce has given companies greater insight into what their brand looks like in thousands of retail locations. Brands are hiring crowdsourcing vendors to be their eyes and ears at the shelf, as well as monitor their competitors.

The possibilities are almost endless when thinking about how to use crowdsourcing for in-store competitive intelligence. You can ask shoppers to go into a store and complete a category assessment or to go into a store and ask an associate specifically about your category, which brand the associate would recommend, and why. Finally, having actual shoppers in the store can provide additional layers of research into what brand or product they would buy and why. All of the above are reasons why brands and retailers should be using crowdsourcing for in-store competitive intelligence.

How Wiser Does In-Store Competitive Intelligence

Wiser’s in-store platform has a crowd of over 700,000 “Bees” who have collected over 11 million data points at almost 200,000 stores across the US. Actionable data is collected in near real-time and at the client’s fingertips through a series of alerts, digests, and an online dashboard.

Our platform is flexible and customized to each client. Often times campaigns answer multiple questions in one visit. For example, our crowd can assess share of shelf, as well as associate knowledge together. Recently our Bees were asked to visit Best Buy locations and ask about a new TV’s technology. They were to assess the associate’s knowledge, listen for key words or benefits mentioned, and ask for a brand recommendation. After their interaction, they were asked to take photos of the TV display wall and count the total number of TVs present for each of the eight biggest brands. With this data, Wiser was able to inform the brand’s sales training team of how well their training was working, as well as show the brand’s management and merchandising team their share of shelf at Best Buy—with accompanying photos!


In-store competitive intelligence is a major piece of the generic competitive intelligence puzzle. It gives companies insight into exactly what their own shoppers are seeing at the shelf, what is being recommended by store associates, etc. Companies can identify what areas they thrive in and optimize those to really outshine their competition or identify areas of opportunity and adjust their strategy to address them. With crowdsourcing, the possibilities are almost endless for in-store competitive intelligence.

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