The Matt Edmundson Way to Spy on Your Business Competition Legally and Without Obsession
We all do it. Research the competition. It’s necessary. Especially in the fast paced, ever-changing world of ecommerce. We need to see what other companies are out there right now, offering the same services as us, occupying areas of the market we want to grow into. Having a clear understanding of what our competitors offer, and the gaps in the market, will help us to offer the best service possible to our customers. Knowing our competition is what will set us apart from our competitors.
But there’s a way to research the competition – legally and without becoming so obsessed with what everyone is doing our own business suffers. Matt Edmundson knows all about this. With over a decade’s experience of running ecommerce businesses, generating over $50m of worldwide sales for over 6m customers, Matt has developed the Mastery 2017 course to share the lessons he has learned through his experiences, and teach businesses how to thrive in the world of ecommerce.
Is competition healthy in business?
Perhaps, the wrong question. Because the simple answer is, like it or not, there is competition in business. And actually, if you’re starting a company where there is no competition, and none on the horizon, chances are you won’t have much of a customer base either. As they say, there is ‘nothing new under the sun’.
So we need to make competition a healthy thing, something that works for us, a positive for our company. Matt Edmundson talks about this as learning to watch what other people do, in order to understand what works for you, so your business can thrive. Some companies make the mistake of holding up a mirror to reflect on their performance. In actual fact, the best way to gauge your success of your company is to analyse it against your competitors, in the context of the wider marketplace.
In his online course, Mastery 2017, Matt will take us through a series of steps to understand how we can channel competition in a healthy way, to get a better overall response for our company in the marketplace, using his specific knowledge of ecommerce.
When we learn to shift our mindset to seeing competition as a healthy tool for growth, we begin to unlock the benefits of healthy competition, that it can:
- Teach us the biggest lessons – when we are equipped with the tools to compare the competition and to put the information we learn into practice
- Keep us on our toes – complacency is one of the biggest killers of ecommerce. We need to constantly improve and respond to the changing needs of our customer base. If we don’t, our competitors will.
- Help us exploit industry trends – learning to evaluate our competitors is one of the best market research tools at our fingertips. When we see what methods our competitors are using to succeed, and indeed where they are failing, we can see what could work for our business.
How can I make competition work for my business?
The key to making competition work for your business is having the tools to learn from your competitors. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves with our competitors, becoming obsessed with how they are doing, what they are doing and how it measures up to our performance. This path only leads to playing catch up. How can my business be as good as the competition?
Matt Edmundson, in Mastery 2017, provides the tools to approach competition for success. For example, Matt will lead you through a session on making sure your Home Page is doing all it should for your business to thrive. Matt uses his considerable expertise in designing successful ecommerce sites to show you how you can use a study of competitors sites to glean the gems that will work for your company. Far from copying your competitors, or playing catch-up, Mastery 2017 will guide you through the process of cherry-picking the successes of your competitors, to ensure your own business thrives.
Understanding how to spy on your competition legally, and without obsessing, can help you:
Differentiate what you offer – by understanding what your competitors offer, you can see your unique strengths and how you can stand out in the market place
Prioritise customer needs – learning how to approach competition from the eyes of your customers, you can see their needs that are and aren’t being met by your competitors and how you can improve your service
Become more self-aware – often it’s only when we see how easy or difficult it is to navigate a competitor’s ecommerce site that we realise the flaws in our own.
Spying on the competitors legally without becoming obsessed
In his online course, Matt Edmundson uses his vast experience of the world of ecommerce to teach you how your business can thrive. Understanding your competitors is just one building block in a wider strategy of success. By placing the information we can learn from our competitors in context, we begin to see that it is a part, not the whole. This will stop us from becoming obsessed with what our competitors are doing, instead focusing only on how that knowledge can help improve our business.
Competition is a healthy thing, if we understand how we can use it for good! Competition:
- Can foster innovation – some of the greatest inventions have come from someone seeing the competition and realizing there was a better way to do things
- It can make you work faster and smarter – knowing we are competing with others keeps our energy and focus up
- Puts customers first – healthy competition will make you continually ask that vital question – what does our customer need and how can we be the ones to provide for that?
- Is a way to learn from others’ mistakes – learning to understand your competitors means you don’t have to make the same mistakes they have.
Matt Edmundson has over a decade of learning experiences to draw on and share with you in his online course, Mastery 2017. By learning how to make competition a healthy tool, rather than making negative comparisons, Matt has developed successful ecommerce businesses, such as Jersey Beauty Company, and has generated over $50m of sales for over 6m customers worldwide. Matt wants to share his experience and expertise with you, so you can put the proven tools Matt has learned into practice and see your ecommerce business thrive.
The Mastery 2017 online course has limited places. In order that you get the most out of the course, Matt has requested we limit the course to 50 participants. Be one of them and see your company transformed.
You can sign up here:
The about us page is usually one of the most visited website pages. It is where a customer heads to when they want to know more about you as a company, what you stand for and how you can help them. However, this page can often be overlooked or undervalued by e-commerce sites.
So how do you make the most of your about us page and better engage your website visitors?
1. Include a clear sense of mission and values
More and more consumers want to buy from sites with whom they have a shared sense of mission and values. This page is a place to clearly state your purpose and company/brand values. If you look at the ‘about Waitrose‘ page, you will read about how they source their produce, their work with charities and what they are giving back. It includes information such as:
“We want to know where our food comes from, how it’s been produced and what it contains. It all starts with long-term relationships with our farmers and suppliers, and continues with our beliefs in championing British produce, supporting responsible sourcing, treating people fairly and treading lightly on the environment. This is the Waitrose Way. But it doesn’t stop there. With your help in branch and online, our Community Matters scheme has donated £14 million to local charities chosen by you.” Waitrose
When you tell customers what you stand for, you are connecting and engaging with them on a different level. Whilst this won’t motivate every consumer, it will definitely resonate with some. It helps to build up a picture of the kind of company you are.
2. Tell your story
The about us page is the perfect place to tell your company’s story. If you are a family run business people want to know! Customers always want to know about the people involved. If it works, tell your story via a video. This is the way websites are going. People no longer expect to read reams of text. A short video, of a couple of minutes, is often much more effective. Everyone loves a good story and it will help your business come alive.
Ben and Jerry’s have a fantastic about us page. They tell their story really well. It starts with a fun video entitled ‘explore some of the great moments in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream history’. This is followed by their story broken down in to decades. Its not one monotonous page of text and data. It is interesting, well presented and gives browsers the option to dip in and out of their story using the different decade tabs. Definitely one worth a look!
3. Your team – who you are
Website visitors love to see the people with whom they are interacting. They enjoy seeing people: from the owner of the company to the person that handles customer service. Make sure you have good photographs or images, displayed in a way that is in keeping with your company style and brand. Children’s furniture company, Great Little Trading Company, have a page dedicated to what they call their ‘testing team‘. This page describe how all their product are tested by the very people who will use them: children. Photographs of the children testing the products and their names are also included. This page enhances their brand: a fun, creative company, with their customers, children, at its heart.
Employee testimonials also work really well. They can showcase your culture and give customers a glimpse of the staff having fun behind the scenes. Rent the Runway do this really well. If you scroll down to the ‘us’ section of this page, notice how their staff testimonials say something about what they do and how they work.
4. Customer testimonials
Testimonials should be all over your website. On the about us page you have the opportunity to take one or two testimonials and paint a fuller story of how a customer’s life was changed or impacted because of your products.
Find one or two testimonials that have really engaging stories. They should resemble the key customer personas’ stories. For example, if you sell jewellery and engagement rings, customers may want to see a story about a woman who got her rings from you and images or even a short clip from her wonderful wedding.
5. Links to products and a call to action
Recognising that many people visit the about us page, make it easy for them to get to the products that interest them. One way to do this might be to personalise the page with previously viewed products or items that match their persona profile.
Make sure you include a clear call to action and an on ramp, (on ramp is explained in previous blogs which can be found here) enabling visitors to easily purchase products and engage with you.
- Add a call to action with appropriate products.
- Add on ramps with a newsletter sign-up and clear content offerings.
- Link to blog posts that specifically highlight customer stories or what the company has done to extend its mission (for example, charity work).
What have you done with your about us page? How have you made it stand out? Have you found it engages new visitors and potential customers? If you have any other ideas that you can share, we’d love to hear from you.
The checkout page should make it easy for customers to provide their details and move on. At this stage the customer has committed to buy and wants to get through this section as quickly as possible.
How can you improve your online checkout page? It needs to be smooth and secure, whilst only asking for the minimum information.
I think we have probably all tried to buy something online, but the checkout process has been so arduous that you’ve actually abandoned the purchase out of sheer frustration.
If you want to understand what cart abandonment could mean financially for your business, there is a great article here. It provides different way to calculate this loss. This can be helpful if you need to present a substantiated rationale to your team to improve your checkout page.
I have identified 4 different sections of your checkout page which directly impact on checkout abandonment rates. Get them right and conversion rates will go up. Make sure your e-commerce site is reaching its true sales potential. Don’t let yourself down at the final hurdle.
- Customer service information
Simple changes to the above, could have a really positive impact on sales.
The address should be clear and easy to complete. If relevant, make sure the autofill is on and logical. Anything you already know about the visitor should be completed already. These days people don’t expect to have to input their entire address. I am a big fan of predictive search in address lookup. The double click approach whereby the visitor enters their house number/name and postcode and then selects from a list of possible addresses is simple, popular and easy to use. Anything that makes it easier for the customer is a winner. This may all seem very basic but I am often surprised how many websites I come across that haven’t bothered to include simple things which can speed things up considerably for your customer.
Some e-commerce sites, normally from sectors that see themselves as ‘down with the kids’, will use a ‘fresh’ or different layout for their address section. I would suggest this is unnecessary and can often cause confusion. The more ‘traditional’ form layout, with the label outside the box and a border just around the form field is usually the best. Customers are used to this design. They have already committed to buy, providing the form in a style with which they are accustomed, may make it easier for them to complete.
Make sure it is frustration free. If the customer presses the back button don’t make them complete the address section again. We all know how irritating this can be!
Think about how your checkout page will appear on a mobile or tablet. The form needs to be relatively large and clear. Remember someone actually needs to be able to press the buttons with their fingers. The form should not be so small (i.e. before the user has enlarged it) that it is impossible to complete. The form also needs to work when rotated from portrait to landscape. Thinking about these simple user requirements will reduce checkout abandonment rates.
The delivery section should be simple and clear. I don’t think anyone particularly enjoys completing a web form. The longer and more complex it is for your visitor, the more frustrating it will feel. Given that you are only moments away from making a sale, don’t ask for unnecessary information or make things complicated. Here are a few ideas that will speed things up for your customers:
- Use the customers IP address to geolocate where they are in the world. Don’t make them scroll through Azerbaijan to Timbuktu, if you know they are in the UK, then pre-populate this field for them.
- Set the delivery address as the default billing address. Or include the option to check a box so that the delivery information is pre-selected from the billing address. This takes the headache out of completing this information twice.
- Include a link or pop-up that explains what the different postage options mean. Not everyone understands the difference. Having to look this information up adds another unnecessary step to the purchasing process.
- For some websites, it may be worth testing a ‘complete your order in the next x minutes and we will send it today’. Sometimes including a sense of urgency can help secure the purchase. Amazon use this technique to good effect.
Once again this step is critical to the buying process. It needs to be simple, clear and function well. When I am working with e-commerce companies, things that I look out for include:
- Have all the main navigation links been removed? If not, they should be. There shouldn’t be anything on this page which distracts the customer away from the task in hand.
- Customers are very security conscious these days, make sure your site instills confidence in the buyer with secure payment logos and Feefo ‘trusted merchant’ if relevant.
- It helps to format the credit or debit card fields so they are the same as the customers actual card. Once they have selected their method of payment, make sure the boxes that appear are in line with those on the card e.g. if the numbers appear in blocks of four, then that is also how the form should appear. This makes things easier for the visitor and gives the payment fields more credibility.
- Use iconography to show the customer where they are in the buying journey. This is relevant for all the above steps.
I could write a stand along post on how to simplify the payment process, whilst maintaining online security. However, in the interests of brevity, the above four ideas are simple fixes that I come across time and time again.
Customer service information
If is often helpful to include the customer service links on the final checkout page as well. Customers usually feel more at ease if you include statements like “Have a question? Do get in touch. We would love to help you”. This should either be a link or should be followed directly by a phone number, live chat, an e-mail address and/or web form.
Do show the returns policy as a sales feature on this page. This will encourage buyer confidence. If they can clearly see that they have 30 days to return their item, free of charge, then that will often give the customer the extra reassurance they need to press the ‘buy now’ button.
Most websites want you to buy something, be it a product or service. Difficult, confusing or just not user friendly online checkouts, can be a really blockage to a visitor becoming a customer. Make things as easy as possible with the best checkout experience.
Wow, is it August already?! As ever there is loads going in the e-commerce sector. Take a little break from your work load and skim through some of the most recent news below. You never know there might be some ideas in there that you could implement in your business…