Unless you have a virtual monopoly on the products or services your business provides, the relative strength (or weaknesses) of your local competition can be one of the driving factors behind your success. Keeping an eye on what your direct competitors are doing, and how well they're doing it, can both inspire you and help you stay in the game – but how can you do this without winding up on the evening news in an embarrassing spy attempt gone wrong?
Fortunately, technological advances have made it easier than ever before to track patterns in your own metrics and those of your competition, helping you adapt in an ever-changing business market. Read on to learn more about some of the tools you can use to monitor your competition so that you'll always be able to stay one step ahead.
What Metrics Should You Be Tracking?
In order to make full use of the data you can glean from your competition, you'll need to have a solid handle on your own figures as well. This can mean tracking metrics like:
- Sales volume
When each sale is electronically logged and time-stamped, it allows you to determine the average amount spent per transaction, the number of transactions per hour, the total amount in daily receipts, or even the daily number of transactions over a certain dollar threshold.
Having access to this sales data for your business can help you gain a greater understanding of how and why your customers spend money. By experimenting with product placement, stock rotation, and other minor aspects of your floor layout, you’ll be able to track an uptick (or decline) in key metrics that can direct your marketing plans. Implementing rewards programs can give you a direct link into what your customers value most.
- Busiest days
Most businesses that are open on a set schedule will, absent a festival or special event, end up seeing around the same amount of traffic each day of the week. Knowing which days (and times) are busiest, based both on foot traffic and sales, can help you create efficient schedules or even alter your operating hours.
For example, if you see that 80 percent of your weekly sales take place between Thursday morning and Friday evening, you may be better off to close down entirely during the beginning of the week and schedule twice as many employees for the busier end of the week; in many cases, even losing the one or two drop-in customers is a better financial option than paying additional overhead and salary costs for times when your business isn’t doing much business.
Knowing these figures – both for your own business and your direct competition – and keeping an eye on any fluctuations can keep you from ever being blindsided.
How Can Smart POS Apps Help You Monitor Your Competition?
Technology has not only made it much quicker and more efficient to perform basic calculations like daily sales volume or visitors per hour, it's made it simpler to track your own metrics -- and your competition's -- over time. If you have a Clover Station or Clover Mini, you already have access to a wide variety of free and paid apps that can let you see what's happening with your local (and national) competition with the touch of a button.
For example, Clover's Analytics Connector app allows you to feed your own data into Google Analytics, where you'll be able to track and compare a number of sales and performance measures -- from your high and low foot traffic times each week to the average amount spent per transaction. You’ll be able to set alerts to inform you of weekly sales goals being met, high or low volume, or any other metrics you’d like to keep a closer eye on.
Meanwhile, the Insights app can give you a direct glimpse into the number of customers being served by your competition, as well as how much your competitors are earning each day or week and even the number of returning customers they have. Within this app, your own performance metrics serve as a dashboard upon login, with easy-to-personalize comparisons to area businesses and industries available (for example, a pop-up message telling you your business earned 5 percent more than other businesses in your neighborhood during the previous week).
The Dashboard app, available for less than $5 per month, can provide you with your own performance measures in real time, helping you make nearly instantaneous changes when necessary. You’ll also be able to sort through a variety of filters, helping you drill down into how each specific product is performing to easily determine when you’ll need to make changes.
Combining the services of dashboard and analytics applications with other apps that provide insight on your competition’s figures can also let you see the ripple effect that can come from tweaks to your own business, putting you in a great position to try out new products and processes with less stress about losing customers.