As 250+ Bon Ton stores prepare to shut their doors, it’s a good idea to consider something the company’s former CEO (Tim Grumbacher) said, “If I’d had the foresight…”

He then went on to tell Wall Street how he would have changed and expanded his competitive strategies.

Only by knowing what your competitors are up to can you better communicate with your target audience, distinguish your business from the competition, improve your processes, and navigate challenges in your market, suggests ThriveHive.

“Learning about your business in relation to the competition will broaden your knowledge about your target audience and industry so that you can refine your business strategy.”

Source: ThriveHive

This is especially true when trying to compete with companies like e-commerce giant, Amazon, that continues to pocket a large percentage of the retail market share.

“To compete in any retail environment, you need to know what innovations big retailers are putting into place so you can be inspired and see how they are altering your shoppers’ expectations,” says The Retail Doctor.

Let’s take a look at what a few of the big players are doing to increase retail sales as they battle Amazon for market share (note: does not include all innovations being used by listed retailers).

Walmart

The company purchased online buying site, Jet, which came with the talent of Marc Lore, who now heads up their e-commerce business and many of the innovations occurring are happening in digital.

Walmart also created Store No. 8, an in-house startup incubator consisting of five companies that focus on a different trend in retail and how that trend will change consumers’ lives in the next five years.

The retailer also created maps unique to its more than 4,000 locations to help shoppers better navigate the huge aisles and find what they need. The feature is integrated with shoppers’ lists in the app, guiding them to items they’re seeking.

In New York City, Walmart launched Jetblack, a concierge shopping service developed by Marc Lore and Rent the Runway founder Jenny Fleiss. For a yearly fee, customers can get a personal assistant that inventories their home for items they might need, plus subscribers get the ongoing ability shop via text and have items delivered—from everyday staples to the perfect birthday gift for a 9-year old, wrapped and delivered to your door. The service helps the “every day low prices” retailer reach a new upscale segment of consumers.

Kohl’s

The department store launched a five-year plan to reduce the cost of discounts and unpurchased merchandise, as well as leasing extra space to grocer, Aldi.

Kohl’s partnered with Amazon to sell their Alexa-enabled smart home products and accept Amazon returns.

The retailer also added chatbots on Facebook Messenger and Kohls.com to assist with customer support, product knowledge, and purchases.

DSW

This American footwear retailer expanded its rewards program cross-channel (to 90% of their shoppers) to offer free shipping, as well as in-store shoe repair and other services. DSW also added a Fit Step Pro station where shoppers can get custom insoles for the perfect fit and is looking into providing shoe rentals in the future.

In some of their stores, the brand added a W Nail Bar that provides nail art, gel manicures, and pedicures. Plus, after realizing many of their shoppers were moms, they added a kids shoe department complete with creative play spaces. DSW also adds an element of entertainment by hosting in-store popup store parties.

DSW provides in-store, shoe-donation points for their partner Soles4Souls, putting their social cause front and center—something that’s particularly important for attracting Millennial shoppers.

Conclusion

Competitive analysis helps you make educated, timely, and financially smart decisions, guiding your investments to the areas that will bring you the greatest return. It also arms you with foresight, protecting you from a fate reminiscent of the Bon Ton Stores.

Keeping an eye on what other retailers are doing to stay competitive, especially in the age of Amazon, can help spark innovative ideas that will help your brand evolve, grow, and thrive.

The retailers mentioned above recognize that the distinction between brick and mortar and online is dying. “Brick and mortar stores need to look at blending various online and in-store experiences to be where their shoppers are,” says The Retail Doctor. Anything less will effectively render you uncompetitive.

About Author

Sherene Funk

Sherene Funk is the author of the contemporary romance Autumn in Your Arms and the eBook The Small retailer's Ultimate Guide to Increasing In-Store Sales. She is a voracious reader who owns more books than she can ever read in this lifetime (but that doesn't stop her from collecting more). A graduate of Brigham Young University, she has published several humorous non-fiction articles and worked in advertising for many years before moving to her current position as a writer on modern retailing at Rain Retail Software. She researches non-stop to see what successful retailers do and loves to share what she learns with other small business owners through informative articles that address their unique needs.


Also published on Medium.

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