Using insights to borrow business-building ideas from your competitors

October 28, 2016

This post is part of our Insights for SMBs series. Read all posts in the series here on the Clover blog.

Ever wish you could know how to increase sales before investing in a product, promotion, or new location? With good data, anything is possible. Clover Insights offers inside information on what’s working (or not working) for your competition.

Simply enter your store information, choose an industry, and compare notes. Here are 7 ideas on how to learn from the competition:

Investigate locations

Using Insights to enter information on industry and area to find your local competition. Check out their aggregate sales data: This provides valuable information on whether a geographic area is potentially lucrative or a dud before you branch out into a new location.


Diagnose problem areas

Look at your revenue in Insights and compare it to the competition. Identify days or seasons where sales should be higher: How is your business doing in a typical day, week, month, or year? Are there seasonal dips? What’s your slowest day? More important, how does it compare it to the competition in the same area? Should your sales be higher, comparably speaking, in those time periods? If so, consider offering a promotion during slow periods to bring in more business.


Research product ideas

If business is booming in some months, but anemic in others, investigate new industries that might help stabilize your revenue flow. For example, a resort clothing store may have exceptional business in the summer months, but may be very slow in the winter. Choose related industries in Clover Insights in your geographic area like shoe stores, jewelry stores, or gift shops. Do any of these businesses have steady revenue throughout the year? Is the revenue in winter months better with, say, clothing stores? If so, perhaps offering those products could make it worth your while to stay open all year.


Identify upselling opportunities

Clover Insights might reveal that your competition is doing better in terms of overall revenue, but they have fewer transactions than you and a larger ticket size. This suggests they either charge more for their products, or are successfully upselling customers into a higher dollar-value sale. What products are they selling that could be a growth opportunity for you, too? Ask customers if they would consider purchasing those products from you.


Define your value proposition

Ask customers when they come in: who did they buy from before and why did they decide to purchase from you today? Visit your competition and ask your fellow shoppers there similar questions—“This is my first time here. What do you like about shopping here?” These questions often reveal your value proposition and how you (and your competition) are viewed by customers.

Hit the pavement

In comparing revenue, which businesses consistently outperform others even in slow periods? Businesses that do significantly better should top the list of competitors to investigate and are worth an in-store reconnaissance mission. Figure out their busiest time of day and plan your attack. The mission: answer these questions:

  • What promotions are they running?
  • Are there perks to shopping there (free drinks?)
  • What do they do to encourage repeat business (Coupons? Loyalty programs?)
  • Do they advertise via social media (and are you following them)?
  • Why are customers buying from them? Strike up a conversation with another customer: “I’ve never been here before—are the sandwiches any good? What do you recommend?” You’d be surprised how much information can be gleaned with simple questions.

Size up your competition. Do business better. Learn more about the free Clover Insights app for iOS on

[lead image: Café by Javi on flickr]

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