Killer RFP Step #5: Evaluate your Competitors and Industry
Up to this point in preparing for an RFP these articles have spent a lot of time focusing on the company. Now it is time to take a look outside the company. Specifically, we need to evaluate your competitors and industry to see what is happening, that is important to us.
Pro Tip: We recommend seeking an eCommerce partner like Luminos Labs to conduct an outside in comparative analysis and benchmarking study.
Determine your digital presence
To benchmark ourselves against our competitors, we first need to understand our digital commerce metrics. Schedule a meeting with the marketing team responsible for digital commerce. Start that meeting with these questions:
- What are our total sales, in all channels?
- What are our total sales in these channels?
- Online store
- Other marketplaces
- B2B portal
- Other online channels
- What is our total monthly/annual traffic for each of the channels?
- What online presences do we have other than those we just discussed? (i.e., Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram)
- How many followers do we have in each of them and how much of the sales are driven by them?
- What types of online marketing are we doing?
- What are the goals of the online marketing? (e., drive $X in sales, drive X new prospects to the site per month)
- What is our historical record in achieving these goals?
- What would make reaching these goals easier?
Using the information uncovered from this meeting, prepare the following:
- Our sales channels with total sales and traffic
- Our marketing channels with total sales and followers
- Marketing goals
- Marketing needs (write as features)
We want to be able to understand where we rank in relation to our competitors and other key sites in the industry. Having the information gathered here will help us create this comparison.
Benchmark Your Competitors
Start this conversation with your marketing and sales teams. Schedule a meeting with each of these groups and tell them you want to find out more about our competitors. In the meeting address these questions:
- Who are our primary competitors?
- What are we doing better than them?
- What are they doing better than us?
- What is your impression of their digital commerce tools (online store, B2B tools, mobile apps, in-store digital tools)?
- What are their total sales compared to our sales?
Take the competitor information you have uncovered along with the information you uncovered about us and put them together on a table so that you can review then side by side. With all of the information together determine where we rank with our competitors.
Share this information with the marketing and sales teams and then ask them these questions:
- Where are we doing better than our competitors? What do we need to do to maintain this position?
- Where are our competitors doing better than us? What can we do to improve our position in these areas?
Record and organize all of the answers that you receive.
Identify Digital Commerce Affinity Sites
The other thing you should do is look at other companies in other industries who are doing exceptionally well in digital commerce. The easiest way to get to this information is to ask each of your key stakeholders this question: what are your favorite digital commerce sites and what do you think they do exceptionally well?
Make a list of these sites and what they are doing well. It is a good idea to record the URL that demonstrates the key features and capture a screenshot.
Evaluate Competitor and Industry Features
Organize the answers for the competitor reviews and the affinity site reviews into a short presentation. Bring your major stakeholders together and go through the presentation, asking them to discuss the benefits of all of the recommendations.
Through this discussion, you will determine many new requirements and features that you will want to incorporate into your new digital commerce solution. Organize the list into five categories, Critical, Significant, Important, Future, and Not Needed.
Update You Feature List
Now you can add this information to your list of features and requirements for the new digital commerce solution. Both your competitors and other major companies have a lot to teach you. You can take advantage of their learnings, by looking closely at their digital commerce presence and seeing what is working well for them and determining if it will work well for us.
Would you like to know more? Please refer back to the Luminos Labs blog in the coming months for more details on steps 6 – 13 of writing a killer RFP.