As a store owner, it is important to ensure that your merchandise not only looks great, but also is on trend with the market & can’t be found in every other retailer. What every buyer and store owner wants is to have trend right merchandise that is not overly distributed. You always want to create demand & appear special, so it doesn’t help if you’re selling something out of style or is available at the store 2 doors down. So, how do you stop this from happening? Market research! There are several forms of market research that every store owner & buyer should do. The one we will be talking about is comp shopping.
Comp Shopping is short for competitive shopping and yes, it’s something that you MUST do as a store-owner & buyer. It does not suffice to just know what you’re selling. You also have to know what your competitors have up their sleeve. That is why comp shopping should be done on a regular basis. I’d recommend once every month. As the saying goes, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Here’s what do on your next comp shopping outing.
- Make a list of stores you want to visit. These can be both online and brick mortar stores. These stores should be your main competitors, which means stores that resemble your price point, as well as the vibe and aesthetic of your establishment & customers. For example, Barney’s would comp shop at Sak’s but they wouldn’t go to Sears. Why not Sears? Because they have very different styles, price points, & customers.
- Have a hypothesis. Never go in there saying, “We’ll see what happens,” because you will always be proven right and not learn anything. Of course, something will happen, something always does. Instead, have a clear goal, whether it be proving that polka-dot men’s suits are out or that sequins & metallics are still the rage!
- Take a camera. Not only are you there to look, but you are also there to do research for yourself & your company. It helps when presenting your findings that you have visual materials.
- When using your camera, be slick. Don’t be loud that the store staff will notice and stop you. Some stores don’t care but some do, so just know your audience.
- Pay attention to the visual merchandising. See how they are displaying their merchandise. Maybe they have a system that can work great for your store.
- Observe the customers. See what they are liking and not liking. This will give you insight on what to buy.
- Pretend to be a customer. Ask the sales associates for help. Inquire about future shipment of styles, colors & brands. Why? Again, it will let you know what your competition is carrying so you’ll be prepared to retaliate.
- Write notes. Our minds are meant to create information, not store it. So, write things down or use your trusty iphone to voice record your findings. I recommend downloading the evernote app. You’ll never lose or forget a thing with evernote!
- Once you’re done, organize your pictures and notes in a simple & easy presentation. Come up with a conclusion & plan of action that you can present to your team.
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