Spying on the Competition

By Eva Alsis

It can be difficult to open an ecommerce business; as with so many professions, there is a huge learning curve and a lot of tricks that you can only learn on-the-job. Unfortunately, if you are like many ecommerce website owners, you don’t have a lot of time. You need to make money today, if not yesterday. There is one way to immediately see what works: watching the competition. Because competing websites are not going to give you, the up-and-comer, the secrets to their success, you will need a few James Bond tactics to get the information you require.

Who Should You Spy On?
There is one way to quickly and easily find out who your competition is: search for them. Type a few choice keywords into Google and you will get a long list of both sponsored and organic links. Hit search a few more times and the list will become much shorter. When you have only a few (3-5) sponsored ads, you have officially identified the competition.
This list is important because these are the websites in your industry who earn the most money for Google. That is, their links lead to conversions. This means that these websites are making the most money as well. They are your top competitors. Mission accomplished!

Getting the Facts
Now you need to write down the names of these websites, because you are going to be visiting them multiple times. If you really want to feel like a spy, use a Google InPrivate browser… but this is not necessary, it just makes you feel sneakier. Visit these websites and take notes. Where do they place photos and links? What colors do they use? How do they present the products they are selling? If you chose search phrases wisely, you are probably seeing the same products that you are trying to sell. The difference is that these companies are moving a lot more of those products. Look for commonalities in the websites you are watching; these are probably proven tips that you could not get from any other source.

Applying Knowledge to Your Own Ecommerce Business
If you are going to copy anyone, it should be those who have found success in your field. With the information you have gathered from the websites you spied upon, you can now begin to change your own strategies and website. Try restructuring your website to look and operate more like those of your more successful competitors. Test their marketing strategies and see if they work for you. In many cases, you will see immediate results.

You don’t have time for endless trial and error; you need to know what works so you can begin making money immediately. These strategies will get you on the path to success. You can always try different strategies and add some of your own personality later, once you have the traffic and conversions that you need. This method is simply a way to kick-start your ecommerce business and make the learning curve a little more friendly.