Know Thy Competition
In my previous post I talked about how competition should never be feared. However, this in no way means we should ignore it. Because if we do, we’ll loose customers in the process. Market research involves knowing all that you can about your competition. What do they offer that you’re not offering? How important is it? Should you be offering it? Should you stop offering something that your competition will continue to provide potential customers with?
I will explain why thinking thoroughly before answering these questions is so important through a personal experience. I was thinking of changing my computer and after a chat with my dad who wanted to buy my notebook, I decided to buy a Sony Vaio. I checked the site of a local Sony Center shop, picked the model and went to get it after work. I had part of the amount in cash, the rest on a card.
When I got to the store, I asked if it is ok to pay party cash and the rest with the card and one of the employees said yes. He then got my computer, explained everything and we went to the cashier. There, surprise, they said it was no longer possible. Why, because they decided to drop this facility. I still wonder why, as it poses no major problems for their financial and accountancy departments. Anyway, I was thinking of depositing the cash, but it was late and I would have had it on the card the other day.
I was pretty upset and thinking if I shouldn’t go for a different brand. But I am a Sony Vaio fanatic! I love their design and the model in question was pretty cool. I thought to also take a look in a different computer shop, Flamingo. I found the same model for the very same price and bought it! They had no problem with my payment preferences. If I wouldn’t have found that specific Sony model, I would have chose a different brand.
So, why risk loosing a customer when the competition is displaying their product next door based on such a minor payment glitch? And it’s not one competitor, Sony Center is on the third floor of a shopping center, along with 4 different computer stores. Given the prices of such products, one lost customer is rather important. Sometimes it’s not the benefits you offer through your product that represents your competitive advantage, but how simple the acquisition process is.
In this particular case, it was a reseller. But we all know that a company earns less on a purchase made through a reseller than through its own shops. Moreover, it rarely happens that the reseller in question is an exclusive distributor of your brand. They usually place your product just near the competition’s.