Episode 59: What is Comp Shopping and are you doing it correctly?




  • Introduction
  • What is comp shopping? 
  • What you should focus on with comp shopping? 
  • Conclusion


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Belinda Humphrey - Email


Welcome to the Fashion Unearthed podcast. If you need help navigating the fashion industry sustainably, you have come to the right place. I'm your host Belinda Humphrey and my hope is to simplify the fashion industry so that businesses can make the best decisions for people, planet and product. 

Welcome to episode 59 of the Fashion Unearthed podcast. I hope if you're listening to this in Victoria, that you're keeping safe after all the rain. For those not aware, areas of Victoria, including Melbourne, have been experiencing flooding. Whilst I don't watch much of the news, I hope the rhetoric around the events has moved on from it being every 100 years because it seems like it's every couple of weeks somewhere in the world and Pakistan is still dealing with shocking flooding. I think that's getting a bit old, and it makes me even more determined actually to use my experience to keep trying to change things from the inside in this industry. If you have enjoyed the podcast so far, I would love it if you gave it a rating or a review on your listening app. It helps so much with getting it out there and having more chances at helping business owners and really being able to influence change.

Into today's topic, comp shopping. Let's start with what it is. Sometimes it's called competitive or competitor shopping, but everyone calls it comp shopping, and it's simply an analysis of businesses you consider to be your competitors, and you're just looking at how people are doing things in your space. You might even decide at the end of it that you don't wanna change anything about your business and the whole process just validated you're on the right track. Before I get into the nuts and bolts of what you look at and how you do the analysis, I just wanted to mention a few caveats. The first one being just because you see it in another brand doesn't mean you should do it too, because the brand might not be happy to have it like that. They might be thinking they've got their strategy wrong and it might not be performing for them anyway.

The next thing to remember is that this is not about copying their product. It's about analysing how everything has been put together or getting inspired about different ways to merchandise or execute marketing. Finally, some business owners rarely do this at all. There's one person I worked for that comes to mind that would not look at competitors. They would get their blinkers on and go for their own goals and visions because they thought that sometimes other brands would influence them badly and steer them in the wrong direction, potentially making them doubt themselves. Where and when you do the comp shopping can depend on a few things. You can do it in person, which is the best way to get a sense of everything. But you can also do it by having a whip around the internet. There are even businesses that scrape the internet to get the data for you.

When you do it, it really depends on what you're trying to achieve or what you're trying to learn. You might want to make sure you do a trip overseas to Northern Hemisphere to sense check what's happening in retail, to validate your own strategy that you would probably have in motion, or you might do it at the end of the season locally to see how you might have fared against some of your competitors. The process can be as complex or as simple as you like, the same goes for the report afterward if you have to make one of those and you're working for another business. But some of the things that most people look at would be, firstly, the marketing signage. What are they trying to tell their customers? Are they focusing on a new product or a new material or a particular look or outfit? Or is the marketing messaging all about sales?

The next one is mannequins. In larger businesses, a lot of people are involved in what goes on in mannequin and even in a smaller business, someone managing the store or reporting directly to an owner would be choosing based on what the owner wants. Usually, this is to communicate what they think are the best or most important looks. Sale items never go on mannequins, it's prime real estate. The next area of focus would be product. What kind of products have they included where it is positioned, if it's on a table in a larger store or a retailer, it usually means there's a lot of quantity behind it. They're backing whatever they've got on that table as being something that will be a good seller. Is it at the front of the store? This can also suggest that they're prioritising and making sure the customers see it.

I will jump in here and say that in my experience if something is great and customers want it, they will find it. If something is a bit of a dog or a bad seller, putting it at the front of the store or a mannequin doesn't make much difference. If a brand has product in those areas, don't automatically assume it's a great seller for them. They might be trying to move it. You might also look at how many colourways there are in a particular product, also that split between categories.

The next area you would look at would be price points. You would try and analyze what are their entry, mid, and exit price points for particular categories. Finally, you would look at sale items, which works back in with price points. But this was something I'd really look at when I was traveling overseas as well, usually because I would be there at the start of a season, not during a traditional sale time. Anything that was on sale would indicate to me that they're trying to get rid of something newer that hasn't worked, and they're trying to do it quickly. Along with all that, you can also ask the salespeople questions like what's popular or if things come in out of the colors, or if something's sold out. But after you've done everything from there, you would think about how things differed from your own strategy, and if you wanted to change anything, some businesses I worked for would want a whole presentation, while others just wanted a meeting to discuss the findings.

In summary, the areas that you would want to focus on when you're comp shopping would be the marketing signage, mannequins, product price points, and sale items. Like I said earlier, if you've enjoyed this episode and or podcast, I would love it if you gave it a rating or a review on your listening app or even just send it to one friend that you think would enjoy it. You can get in touch on Instagram @belindahumphrey_, or you can email me at info@belindahumphrey.com. As always, you'll find the show notes and any links on the website belindahumphrey.com in the podcast section. Thanks so much for listening. See you next time.

Thanks for listening to the Fashion Unearthed podcast. If you want to get in touch head over to belindahumphrey.com or you can find me on Instagram @belindahumphrey_

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort is made to ensure that information is accurate at the time of recording, much like the fashion industry itself, this information may change. 


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