Category: Retailer

13 Sep 2018
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Price Optimization 2.0: The Efficient Frontier in Strategic Pricing

When managing a financial portfolio, you’ll need to determine how much to invest in each asset. If you have a thousand assets, it becomes a very complicated decision on how much to invest into each one. Harry Markowitz’s Nobel Prize Winning portfolio management theory, called the Efficient Frontier,  allows investors to boil this problem down into a strategic decision of how much risk to take for a given return.

In retail, you’re managing a portfolio of products. Instead of an investment decision, however, it is a pricing decision of how much you will be investing into each product to lower the price. The Efficient Frontier allows us to boil that pricing decision down into 2 dimensions – Price Image and Profit Goals. We use this tradeoff in retail pricing – where you have to manage thousands of pricing decisions to achieve your desired return. The question is: How do you roll that up into a strategic decision?

Because changes in retail pricing are becoming faster, more localized, and being split across different channels, we knew that we needed a tool to pull all that together and manage a consistent strategy across different price types. It turns out that the Efficient Frontier theory is the most powerful tool to solve this complex problem.

If we apply the Efficient Frontier theory to retail product pricing, then the dimensions we’re considering are the Price Image along the X-axis and the Profit Goals along the Y-axis. The highest point of the curve is where you make the most profits. Those are short-term profits. We then get the point-of-sale data that’s recording short-term decisions from customers, and that’s what the demand models are modeling.

There is a risk associated with pricing at the top of the curve because while that is where you make the most short-term profits, it’s also where you’re burning your Price Image. At this price point,the customers aren’t going to come back. The strategic decision to make, therefore, is how far you have to go down and how much you have to invest into having a lower Price Image. The decision is unique to each retailer and each strategy. It’s even unique to each category, fulfillment type, or each channel that you’re pricing.

There is a lot of information and power that goes into creating one of these Efficient Frontier curves. To illustrate: imagine that you have just two products, and each product has ten possible price points. If you look at all the possible ways to price those two products, you’re going to make a grid of prices, and it’s going to be a 10×10 grid. That’s a hundred different price points you’ll need to evaluate for just two products. If we add a third product and it has another ten price points, it’s now a cube and there are a thousand elements in that cube. The growth is exponential–you add a fourth product and there are ten thousand elements. What happens when you have a category of a thousand items? You will now have just one store, one category, with a thousand items. The number of pricing scenarios that need to be evaluated is now ten to the thousandth power. That’s more atoms than there are in the universe!

These are huge computational problems, and this is where algorithms become important—algorithm scalability is extremely important in these optimizations. To manage a hundred million prices in a dynamic market is a really complex undertaking. How do you boil that down to something you understand and make a strategy around? The Efficient Frontier is a tool that can collapse all those decisions into strategic decisions where someone, like an executive, can get their head around. It enables that executive to integrate the strategy all the way to the tactical execution, while automating those decisions.

This is what is exciting about price optimization problems. The same models that were created for investment portfolios are applicable to retail situations, and they allow you to make pricing decisions confidently–even in the face of 10 to the thousandth power price scenarios.

25 Jul 2018
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Ken Ouimet’s 5 Big Predictions for the Retail Industry

I met with our CEO, Ken Ouimet, in front of the beautiful Mondavi Center in Davis. With big changes at Amazon and Walmart this past year, I asked him to describe the future that he sees for the retail industry.

Gartner identified Ken as one of the pioneers in the retail pricing optimization space. In this video, he shares his insights and enthusiasm for what’s ahead.

 

 

17 May 2018
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C&S Wholesale Grocers Partner with Engage3

On April 18 to 19, C&S Wholesale Grocers held their 10thannual Tech West Expo at Thunder Valley Resort Casino in Lincoln, CA. Over 100 independent grocery retailers from the West Coast, including Hawaii and Texas, converged at the town Northeast of Sacramento.

Listed by Forbes as the tenth-largest privately held company in the United States, C&S Wholesale Grocers is a wholesale distributor of food and grocery store items with headquarters in Keene, NH.

C&S recently released their strategic retail pricing system and has chosen Engage3 as their partner for competitive retail pricing. “Engage3 IS the premiere partner in retail price information,” said Frank Puleo, VP of Retail Services at C&S.

Engage3 is a leading provider of solutions that help retailers and brands improve their pricing performance and compete more profitably through data science & analytics.

“We have worked with Engage3 for seven to eight years to deliver the best competitive pricing platform in one of our regions. Over the years, we’ve extended that partnership and now we have it on a national level,” noted Corey Quiring, Sr. Director of Corporate Retail Services at C&S.

15 May 2018
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Engage3 COO Edris Bemanian Talks Pricing Strategy, Pressures, and the Market

Last month, Robert Schaulis of Andnowuknow interviewed Engage3 COO Edris Bemanian on his observations of pricing pressures from the likes of Amazon and Lidl. “The biggest trend is that pricing and assortments are becoming more dynamic and localized,” Edris says.  He notes that e-commerce is now becoming a fundamental part of retailers’ strategies versus just a “me too” approach. Read the full article in Andnowuknow.com.

26 Mar 2018
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What to Look for in a Competitive Pricing Platform

What to Look for in a Competitive Pricing Platform

Precise and Accurate Data

First and foremost, a competitive pricing platform must have the ability to collect precise and accurate pricing data. This allows retailers to target competitive shops, optimize frequency, and specify which items to focus on within regions or individual stores.

Rather than casting a wide net to see what useful data gets brought in, retailers must be able to get a global look at the actions of their competitors while also drilling down to store-specific opportunities. When they have both views, they can see clearly where they are winning and losing. Essentially, such a system puts both a telescope and a microscope into the hands of merchants and their pricing analysts, enabling them to comprehensively study their competitor’s universe. It allows them to reverse-engineer their competitor’s approach to pricing and to develop a targeted response, especially if they see a weakness.

Quality Assurance Workflow

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A strong quality assurance workflow ensures that data being collected is accurate.

A competitive pricing platform must also have a strong quality assurance workflow. With today’s mobile app-enabled technology, automated processes can greatly reduce manual errors and ensure that only quality data is being captured at shelf edge. Additionally, such apps can compare shelf data against historical records, flagging any SKU pricing that seems historically unreasonable. Advanced analytics can assure that the data being captured is accurate in terms of price, brand, sizing, and product attributes. This technology can eliminate much of the human error that has plagued competitive shop programs.

Product Attributes

With the rise of private labels, competitive pricing platforms must be able to compare product attributes. In traditional competitive shop programs, as many as 40% of items go unaccounted for because there is no UPC match. To solve this problem, competitive pricing platforms must be able to utilize visual data capture technology and advanced character recognition to compare product attributes. This allows product linking to occur not just by UPC, but also by key attributes and statement of ingredient similarities, i.e. gluten-free and organic. This creates a more accurate picture of a competitor’s private label pricing strategy and their total value proposition.

Customized KVI Lists Based on Statistical Analysis

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Dynamic KVI list support can help you customize by store.

Historically, cost and timeliness have made it difficult to acquire quality competitive data. Given the dynamic nature of the retail environment, static KVI lists are not responsive enough to the realities of where to focus competitive pricing efforts across various geographies and store-specific categories. The retailer needs a pricing platform that allows them to shift from static KVI lists to ones that are easily customized by banner or even by specific store. Rather than taking a blanket approach, the critical decisions of where, what and when to comp shop should be based on strategic statistical analysis.

Drill-Down Capabilities

Merchants need the ability to drill down and understand the decisions competitors are making within specific regions, designated market areas (DMAs), cities and individual stores across their overall pricing strategy or within specific merchandise categories. This would enable merchants to lead their competition by being right on pricing with the right items that are important to customers at a localized level. Such flexibility in designing and executing a more targeted approach to competitor pricing would allow for significant savings in budgeted dollars for competitive shops. A retailer could go after the data they actually need when they need it, rather than spending dollars on costly full book programs.  

Correlating Online and In-store Pricing

In today’s world of e-commerce, more and more retailers are taking an omni-channel approach to selling. A technology-enabled competitive pricing platform needs to take advantage of advanced web crawling algorithms to acquire this competitive data and correlate it against the data captured by auditors in physical store checks. This would enable a more efficient and cost-effective approach to acquiring competitive pricing data.

Aligning Objectives

As advanced analytics enable faster and more accurate decision-making, organizations will need to change to more cross-functionally aligned metrics that strategically drive the financial success of a company. When considering today’s retail organizational structure, is what drives a merchant’s decisions the same as what motivates the employees in a pricing department? Having the data to make decisions regarding competitive pricing at the speed of retail requires a major step forward in enabling accurate pricing decisions to be made with a sense of urgency and strategic intent. However, to fully unlock its true impact to P&L, the retailer will benefit from progressive thinking around how to align objectives and an incentive structure that motivates and drives collaboration. This will enable different departments with complementary skill sets to pull the rope in the same direction and drive a total value proposition focused on the customer.

 

23 Jan 2018
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NRF 2018: Retail’s Biggest Show Did Not Disappoint

I had the pleasure of attending NRF 2018 in New York City, and I must say that the self-proclaimed “Retail’s Biggest Show” did not disappoint. AI, big data, voice, and augmented reality companies were out in full force.

After attending a good number of the tracks, three main ideas about how to win in the next year seemed to rise above the fray: focus on pricing, deliver value to your customers, and enhance your user experience.

It was also clear that some of the big retailers are starting to position themselves as technology companies.

Kroger showcased their product called Kroger Edge, a shelf-based digital display that not only shows dynamic product prices, but also rotates to show advertisements and products’ nutritional information. Think rotating digital billboard ads like those you see at your local gas pump. The plan is to have this new technology installed in 200 Kroger stores nationwide by the end of 2018. You’ll see them first at the end-caps, and then at the regular aisles.

Below is a short video I recorded:

I spoke to Kevin Fessenden, Manager of Research and Development for Kroger Technology, who said that they plan on selling their solutions to non-Kroger retailers. This capability would allow stores to seamlessly adjust their prices and even offer personalized experiences to shoppers right where they make their purchase decision.

Doug McMillion, CEO of Walmart
Doug McMillion
CEO of Walmart

Walmart CEO Doug McMillan called his company a technology company after being named The Visionary at the NRF Foundation Gala on Sunday. Walmart’s $3B acquisition of Jet.com followed by other acquisitions of ShoeBuy, Moosejaw, and Bonobos  signals its serious commitment to eCommerce and enabling technologies. But wait, there’s more. Walmart also started its own technology startup incubator, Store No. 8, in Silicon Valley.

From robots scanning your store shelves, software systems that use lights and mirrors to provide shelf location of items, to store-traffic counting software, NRF 2018 was dripping in mind-blowing retail tech.

With more than 35,000 attendees and 3,400 retail companies represented, getting through the show could be overwhelming. At the “Brick and Mortar Store Strikes Back” discussion panel, Jason Breazeale, Senior Manager of Innovation at Ahold Delhaize, had a tip for attendees. “I usually visit the vendors in the perimeter of the expo halls, because those are the true innovators. I don’t spend much time in the center-hall. Those small companies will have the latest technology that just might get you your competitive advantage,” he said.

10 Oct 2017
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Engage3 Presents at Imperial Distributors’ Spring & Summer 2018 Seasonal Show

Imperial Distributors, a long time Engage3 customer & partner, is recognized throughout the Northeast, South Atlantic and Midwest states as a leader in both distribution and merchandising of supermarket non-foods. The Spring & Summer 2018 Seasonal show provided retailers with an opportunity to complement their food business with non-food offerings to drive sales & improve customer experience.

Ken Ouimet, Engage3 Founder & CEO, was a keynote speaker at Imperial Distributors’ seasonal show this year and discussed The Art & Science of Managing Your Price Image with attending merchandising & marketing executives.

Reach out to info@engage3.com to request information on the session and if you are interested in learning how to leverage competitive data and advanced analytics to compete more profitably.

Other presenters included Tom’s of Maine and Tebo Store Fixtures.
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Left to Right – (1) Ken, (2) Jack Wisniewski, Managing Director – Tebo and (3) Seamus Conlin, Food, Drug & Mass Agency Manager – Tom’s of Maine.
Left to Right – (1) Ken, (2) Jack Wisniewski, Managing Director – Tebo and (3) Seamus Conlin, Food, Drug & Mass Agency Manager – Tom’s of Maine.
12 May 2017
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Lokesh Sikaria: On the Keys to Achieving Success as a Start-Up

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Moneta Ventures is an investor in Engage3’s Series B round of financing. Their mission is to identify and accelerate the growth of the most innovative companies in California’s capital region. 

Lokesh Sikaria, managing partner at Moneta Ventures, commented in a recent press release, “Engage3’s management team has a great record in the retail space. Their demonstrated domain expertise combined with current customer traction, the technology platform they have already built, and the product roadmap makes a very compelling investment thesis.”

Prior to his work with Moneta, he was the Founder and CEO of Sparta Consulting, a global IT consulting firm, and grew Sparta to more than $100 million in revenue in just five years. A Berkeley graduate with an Electrical Engineering and Computer Science degree, Sikaria was sent to work on a project at Intel by his first job with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

He greatly enjoyed working in Folsom and the ecosystem he found there, so he decided to stay and cultivate his industry within the region. We decided to sit down with him and understand his personal and professional motivations and what he believes are keys to success when starting a business.

What does it take for a company like Sparta Consulting to grow from 0 to 125 million in revenue?

Well, a lot of money. That’s when we realized that the ecosystem for that kind of growth just wasn’t here, in the greater Sacramento area. We knew we wanted to be the ones to start a fund here and focus on investing because we knew that there were other companies just like us, who were doing well in their business plan and growth but didn’t have the necessary funding. So I think the secret to building up a business is to have access to capital, a reasonable space and strong teams. I like to quote Ben Franklin, who said that “we must all hang together or we will all hang separately.” And I think the mindset of a team should be that we’re all in this together.

What traits do you look for when you hire someone for a team?

Evaluating how people react in adversity is the key. How do your team members react when things aren’t going according to plan? As a start-up you can almost be certain that things will not go according to plan, and when that happens, do your partners quit? That to me, is the defining criteria of the team.

In what ways, other than revenue, did Sparta see a lot of success and growth?

The key thing with Sparta was to let our employees participate in our success or failure. We let our employees invest in the company at the same price that we invested at, so by the time Sparta was sold, I held 20% of the company and the remaining 80% was owned by other employees. What’s really special is that when Sparta sold, for every 1 dollar invested we made $4.93 with around a 65% return per year. And I think we made 15 millionaires out of the process. For a lot of the families and employees with us, this was very special.

Do you have a thesis for how to make your investments or a criterion for choosing companies to invest in?

We have three filters that companies that are pitched to us must go through. From the onset, we knew we wanted to deploy at least 70% of capital in the greater Sacramento region. We all came from a tech background, so we wanted to invest in tech companies first and then slowly expand to other areas of investment such as healthcare or Ag-tech. We also focus on companies that are within half a million in revenue to 5 million in revenue. And we do this because when you focus on companies when they’re in the initial stages, it’s a lot more fun and interactive and rewarding to participate with them rather than when they become big corporations.

How have you persevered through some of your most difficult challenges while running Sparta Consulting?

As an entrepreneur, you have to be mentally prepared for the challenges and have the ability to withstand them. I was fortunate to have a very supportive management team around me and that made all the difference at Sparta. Not only I but several of my management team mortgaged their homes to keep the company going from an investment standpoint.
 
How do you spot companies that have promise of success?
Good management teams; growing revenue (at least $500K revenue run-rate annually); In sectors and areas that are seeing increasing demand; Founders with significant skin in the game;

What’s the best way for a start-up or a growing company to get your attention?

I suggest that the first step is to have your ducks in a row. Make sure you know who you’re selling to from a customer standpoint. You should ideally have a few customers already, have some beta customers, and at least a minimum viable product. Then the best way to approach Moneta Ventures is to reach out to Sabya Das, Associate Partner at Moneta, or apply on our website.

One of our challenges when assessing companies is that since there are 4 of us the business, the volume becomes very significant. We looked at 440 companies total to get to the 20 companies that were selected in Fund 1 and Fund 2 over a three and half year period. So it is competitive and it is challenging, but it doesn’t mean that just because we aren’t interested, that you’re not going to be successful.

Do you have advice for start-ups who are just entering the world of planning and creating their vision on what the process looks like?

There needs to be a balance between the planning and the execution. We want entrepreneurs to focus only on one or two things out of the 50 million ideas they might have, and then pursue them wholeheartedly. You’ve got to plan your actions and decide which idea you will pursue. In general, if you spread yourself too thin, it’s a problem. There will be obstacles and offsets. But you have to continue and give it it’s due before deciding to call it quits. That balance is key.

There’s an analogy in marketing that I think really captures the idea. What you want do is fire bullets, and then where you succeed, you want to fire cannons there. That’s the right mindset. Get to the ideas that hit, and when you know this is the right place, go at it with cannons.

What do you enjoy about being a VC?

I really enjoy the cyclical nature of it and seeing the successes come out of our investments and coming right back to us. We’ve created this foundation of providing each other value and working with each other as a team by sharing successes. The fun part is to be able to see the success come out and how that success feeds right back. What you do comes right back to you.

Sikaria spoke at the Startup Grind Sacramento event this month and shared these insights and experiences with the attendees of the event. Watch his full presentation here!

28 Apr 2017
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“Surviving the Emerging Price War” Insights

Industry-expert and Chief Architect of Brick Meets Click, Bill Bishop, hosted a highly-anticipated webinar session with Engage3 CEO Ken Ouimet and COO Edris Bemanian. “Surviving the Emerging Price War” provides in-depth insights, tangible examples and tips and tricks on how to compete effectively in the face of a brutal and imminent price war among retailer powerhouses. The webinar supplies all of the key ingredients in making up a retailer’s survival toolkit.

“When elephants start to dance, mice get trampled.” Ouimet began the webinar with an analogy that accurately reflects the current state of affairs in the retail industry prior to highlighting Amazon, Aldi, Lidl, and Walmart’s price commitments in the emerging price war. As these giants begin investing in their pricing, the “mice” that are forced to follow but fail to react strategically remain in the elephants’ path.

Ouimet continues with a five-step plan on how to survive in the face of a price war and be met with some form of success or resilience. His ideas center around the notion that “the best offense is a good defense.”

Understand your customer’s perspective.

Using competitive intelligence data shouldn’t be the only tool retailers leverage. Retailers must identify which items are most important to their local customers and understand what items they are comparing against at their competitors’ stores. It’s essential to utilize accurate product linking practices to compare products in the way that customers do with attributes.

By understanding the way customers value their products and perceive the changes retailers make to their pricing, retailers will unlock opportunities to move their customers up the loyalty ladder. Engage3 is collaborating with customers to bridge sales, market share, customer survey, and competitive intelligence data to identify the items that are most relevant to their customers in each market and refine retailers’ KVI lists to reflect this.

Gain visibility into your local competition.

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If retailers don’t have visibility into local competition, then they simply can’t compete. Convenience stores have a high level of what Engage3 calls “localization” (geo-specific pricing), and drug stores have a lower level of localization. However, as a time-series analysis shows, localization scores have been increasing, and retailers like Safeway, Kroger, and Publix are developing higher levels of localization. Kroger, especially, has been met with a high level of success with localized assortments.

If competitors are not very localized, it provides an opportunity to strike hard and fast without any visibility. Engage3’s platform, in particular, takes price change frequency and competitor assortment localization into account when improving competitive intelligence programs over time.

Fly under the radar and attack where they aren’t looking.

Slide2.JPGOne suggested tactic could be moving away from larger competitive zones and instead into micro-zones. A regional grocery retailer that scores very highly with consumers in regard to their price reputation was able to maintain their positive reputation by leveraging their smaller zones to take advantage of their competitors’ blind spots through a mix of lower prices to earn price reputation points while taking higher margin on other items by allocating across zones. Engage3’s Competitor Strategy Analytics reverse-engineers retailers’ pricing and assortment strategies to identify margin opportunities and competitors’ price zones.

Strike hard and fast.

It’s not enough for retailers to Slide1.JPGattack from hidden angles, but they must also have an element of speed behind them. Amazon has a high price change frequency on several items found in conventional grocery stores, and the juggernaut’s price change algorithms are highly responsive. Retailers are taking notice of Amazon’s practices and efficient strategies and are beginning to follow suit.

Retailers need to minimize the time it takes to respond to margin opportunities or price reputation risks by getting data that is as fresh as possible to maintain visibility. Engage3 has helped customers identify when retailers can confidently leverage online data to provide a faster signal to increase visibility and proactively identify opportunities.

Reinvest benefits to defend your turf.

The environment of a price war is pressing and inevitable, so the first step to surviving is determining how to invest optimally in your respective markets by efficiently monitoring the local competition. Once retailers can establish a robust process in a program, they should be able to reinvest those savings to identify additional margin or price opportunities.

Personalization

The segment concluded with a last, but certainly important, strategic lever in fighting a price war: personalization. Ouimet believes that the future is personal and that personalization is unique in the way that it’s a highly desirable tool for consumers that also helps create a tighter relationship within retail communities. It provides more loyalty and more convenience for the consumer, and when applied to pricing, it becomes the ultimate segmentation and the most powerful means to “fly under the radar.”

The five-step plan is heavily reliant on updating competitive shop programs and price optimization strategies. According to Ouimet, those retailers seeking to constantly improve will be well prepared if there is a price war.

To register to watch the full webinar and find out more invaluable insights, click here.

15 Mar 2017
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Competitive Intelligence 101

The Sherlock Holmes of Retail

The phrase “competitive intelligence” is tossed around among competitive retailers and pricing strategists looking to grow revenue and expand their reach. Formally defined, competitive intelligence is the act of defining, gathering, analyzing and distributing intelligence about products, customers and competitors in order to make strategic decisions.

But what this really sounds like is a socially and legally acceptable form of spying. Companies that use competitive intelligence methods are putting on their black ski masks and waiting in stakeout vans with binoculars, ready to observe and analyze their competitors every movement.

This kind of “spying” is actually one of the oldest forms of ensuring market competition and drives the system of exchange that our livelihoods depend on. A basic study of economics tells us that markets are sustained by simple supply and demand models. When the demand for new Legend of Zelda video game increases, Nintendo is smart enough to increase their prices and the quantity that they supply to legions of insatiable gamers.

Profitable choices and strategic pricing is dependent on looking at external factors and the ecosystem of markets around you. Companies who want to thrive in a competitive environment know that they have to study two major areas: their customers and their competition. The two share a magnetic-like attraction, linking them together and linking the success of the company with their push and pull.

But to simplify things even more, let’s take a look at the classic lemonade stand example. Sally spends her summer vacations selling lemonade for 2 dollars a cup and expects about 15 sympathetic parents to visit her stand and buy a daily cup. When another lemonade stand opens up across the street, Sally notices her customers waning.

Infuriated, she grabs a recording device, her binoculars and heat-resistant trench coat and hovers around her competitor’s stand only to discover that the other lemonade stand sells lemonade for 75 cents a cup.

Now armed with this information, Sally can re-re-price her lemonade at 75 cents or less and make an informed and strategic move to stay the queen of lemonade sales.

Retailers like Sally want information about the prices that their competitors are charging, so they’ll be able to assess their own prices and make adjustments accordingly. By expanding the scope of our lemonade example to include the millions of industries and retailers with a diverse range of products and services, it’s safe to say that we’re getting a little closer to the heart of competitive intelligence as it exists in the real-world marketplace today.

The (C)ompetitive (I)ntelligence spy tool kit can be broken down into a strategic four-step method:

  1. Plan. Companies need to crack open their laptops and begin their Google stalking. In other words, retailers need to have a plan for what information they feel will benefit them. If retailers are asking the right questions, they’re asking about their competitor’s mission and history or their competitor’s target customers. They’re asking about which products are being priced at what cost and what special feature of that product attracts customers. They’re asking about promotions and advertisements.

 

  1. Collect Data. Retailers accumulate information by utilizing competitive intelligence programs or platforms. CI tools like MissionControl address the largest questions retailers might have about how to be successfully competitive with their pricing strategies and promotions. MissionControl is just one of the many innovative technologies out there that retailers are latching onto. There are hundreds of free and private programs that help companies analyze features of their competitors such as Quantcast, Knowledge360 or CIRADAR.

 

  1. Analyze the Data. Put your smartest and brightest to work extracting information that can be beneficial to understanding your own business in relation to the other markets. Alternatively, there are companies out there like Engage3 that collect the data and help set strategy with advanced analytics and insights. For Sally, it was figuring out that 75 cents would steal the neighborhood moms away from her stand.

 

  1. Make Changes. Implementing new pricing strategies, promotional programs or re-evaluating inventory are some of the many ways retailers then act on the data they’ve acquired. Sally quickly made the change and started pricing her lemonade at 50 cents. It worked like a charm.

 

Using competitive intelligence is like being the Sherlock Holmes of retail, and it is amongst one of the fastest growing business strategies of the 21st century. As long as there are Sally’s in the world competing against other lemonade stands, competitive intelligence will continue to play an important role in the social and economic foundations of the retail industry.