When competitors move next door

Today at the store we learned that national competitor is opening yet another store in our city. Chances are it will be right down the street from us, perhaps even in the same general location as our local competitor that went out of business earlier this year. While we are not yet sure what to make of this, a few things are clear at this point:

First of all, there is no need to change our business model. They can still beat us on some things, and we can still beat them on other things. Trying to step up our game in the areas they excel at is not likely to work. Instead we need to step up our game on the areas we excel at, so that the contrast is even more clear.

Second, we will need to step up our marketing and increase our street visibility. One thing they don’t do well is local marketing. We can capitalize on that. We may also be able to capitalize on any increased game-buying traffic that may pass our store on the way to them. If we can get their attention, and with a clear message of how we are better than the competition, their store could become a marketing tool for us.

Third, we will need to resolve our vendor problems. One advantage that our competitor has that we can’t match is their ability to get boat-loads of new product the moment it releases. For most of our customers that’s not necessarily a problem, but we can’t have delays of a day or more, and without warning, like we’ve experienced lately. We can’t play that part of the game as well as they can, but we can’t afford concede any more advantage than absolutely necessary.

Fourth, this will be a win for customers, even if it’s a bit of a struggle for us. We’ve had no problem referring our customers to this competitor’s other locations in the past. But previously it’s been easy, because the closest stores to us are at the mall, which many people try their best to avoid. Often they would rather pay a premium to special order items from us than have to drive to our competition. Now, however, our competition will only be a few blocks away. It will be easier for them to go there when we don’t have something they want. Between the two stores, there is a good chance they’ll be able to find what they want.

I’ve heard it said many times before (perhaps even ad nauseum) that there are no problems, only opportunities. I’d like to hope this development is the latter. We certainly don’t need any more problems.

How would you handle your biggest, baddest competitor moving practically next door? Thoughts? Opinions? Leave a comment below!

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