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Reading the title, you likely guessed I was going to talk about how to check your competition, which is only partially true. A couple weeks ago I met with a client who told me that Amazon had started creeping in on their territory.

Not surprising of course, but how they are doing it might be.

My client has been selling to Amazon directly for some time, but only recently found that Amazon had in fact started selling similar products… at lower prices. It is logical to presume that Amazon noticed strong sales in conjunction with strong margins and chose to seek out their own products to offer. Problem is, since Amazon runs the show when it comes to online marketing, they can position my client’s product very differently than their own (higher ratings for theirs, lower price, etc.)

My point with the title was a little more direct. Specifically, do you even know who your competitors are, or who they might be in the coming years?

This isn’t limited to Amazon, of course.

Walmart began transporting their own goods when they realized that such vertical integration served to provide them with more control over timing and costs of delivering their products.

McDonalds has made significant inroads in the coffee market building on their attentive morning audience who has patiently waited in line for an Egg McMuffin for years.

Apple put the music industry on its head when iTunes was launched, controlled only by products that Apple sold.

Need I say more?

Sure you can always ignore me, and some do. I could be dead wrong about your products or services being under threat of new competition in the coming years, but then again maybe I’m not.

My suggestion?

Explore all possible vertical integrations to determine who might be best positioned to become your closest competitor – maybe it’s a key supplier to your business, or possibly it’s a customer who satisfies the lion’s share of your sales.

Either way, when it comes to building a strategy for the years ahead, go broad and deep when it comes to assessing who your competitors might be… because the rules have changed. 

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