David vs Goliath: Get Your Competitive 'Hat' on, David

William Carr
by William Carr
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Every Wine & Spirits small business store needs to identify what competing Goliaths do well, what you can do to mimic them, and how you can expose their weaknesses.

The internet has proven to be the great equalizer in the battles between Davids vs Goliaths. Even the smallest retailers, using a strategic, well executed eCommerce plan, can earn the marketshare they need to feel successful in their marketplace. The best of today's eCommerce platforms are made up of features that combine the hard earned success of the small retailer (David) with a plan to capitalize on the weaknesses of the Goliaths. Today we will look at a roadmap of sorts, on planning a strategy, and building an eCommerce plan that will leave you feeling like you conquered the giant.

Step One: Understanding Your Goliath

If you don’t understand the giants in your marketplace it is hard to create a strategy that keeps you from being marginalized by their scale. It is important to grasp what what they do well and decide is: this something I should imitate? Conversely, understanding what they do not do well will uncover opportunities where you can step in and fill the void with your eCommerce presence. Make a quick chart of what your competitor does well and what they do not do well.

For example, Goliath’s often:

Do well…

Not do well..

Make it easy to shop online locally

Lack knowledge or expertise on products

Tend to focus on limited number of products in a category

Offers a limited range of products in a category, sticking to favorites

Run specials on select products to draw customers in to purchase more (loss leaders)

Can be slow to offer new products as they need to feel that that there will be an immediate ROI

Have large advertising budgets

Often lack a personalized touch

Can afford to have liberal return policies

Tend to be sterile, and lack a FUN factor

Step Two: Your eCommerce Attack Plan

Using your Goliath analysis:

Take the list of their strengths and weaknesses, making a corresponding list of how you stack up, resulting with you developing strategies to improve.

Using this new information you should see some clear areas of focus that will build the basis of your eCommerce strategy. Some specific areas to consider that are often David’s advantages over Goliath:

  • Speed - knowing you have no layers of management to get approvals, take advantage of opportunities to quickly purchase and retail products that are 'Hot' in the minds of your customers.

  • Differentiation - be sure to point out products you carry that Goliaths do not offer

  • Expertise - make it clear to your customers that they can count on you to gain expert guidance and answers to their questions

  • Creativity - come up with value-add offers, putting a cherry on top of a purchase, such as a free ornament or candle at Holiday time, while supplies last.

  • Personalization and Fun - take cues from your in-store customers and have your website prominently display what they like about shopping at your store.

Identify and fix specific weaknesses that will help you to close that David vs. Goliath gap. By way of an example, let's say your Goliath has the convenience of enabling customers to order online, lock in their purchase, and pick it up at store. If your website lacks an order placing capability, then adding a shopping cart with a Pickup at Store feature puts you on par with Goliath.

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