Breaking through the competitive noise

For businesses, competition is often viewed as a cause of failure, but it can also be a reason for it to thrive. Keeping ahead of the competitive curve is important for any industry but within retail, this can be particularly challenging.

In my experience working with a variety of merchants, I’ve witnessed how competition inspires small business owners (SBOs) to innovate, stay motivated and deliver quality service. According to a recent quarterly American Express Canada Small Business Monitor, over three quarters (77%) of SBOs believe competition keeps them on top of their game and 79 per cent consider it an opportunity to innovate. Here are some ways a retailer can stand out amidst the competitive clutter:

Build strong customer relationships. Delivering great service is essential to forging strong, long lasting customer relationships. Making customers feel special and giving them memorable experiences helps to build a connection with you and your customer that goes beyond the product or service being sold. An overwhelming number of SBOs (97%) believe that excellent customer service is the best way to gain a competitive edge. This can be achieved through something as simple as a front line service worker remembering a customer’s name or helping them to their vehicle with their purchases.

Know what your competitors are doing. It’s important to always keep an eye on the competition. From tracking competitor’s pricing strategy to their overall brand positioning, being knowledgeable about competitor activity can help make informed business decisions. This is a widespread practice among SBOs, more than half of which say they monitor their competition on a monthly basis.

Don’t be afraid to be unique. There’s no better way to set yourself apart from the competition than developing a unique and memorable brand. This might be rooted in elements such as exceptional customer service, a niche product offering or a visually appealing in-store experience. Understanding your customer’s needs and finding a way to meet them in a way that the competition can’t, can be a key driver for success.

Employing these strategies is crucial for building any business within the increasingly competitive marketplace. Standing out from competitors, in a positive way, can help to build a customer base and set the stage for long term success.