The barrier of entry in e-commerce got lower and lower in the past 10 years. Nowadays, starting a running e-commerce store takes less than half a day with the combination of Shopify and dropshipping opportunities with Oberlo and Aliexpress. Therefore, the lower barrier of entry attracted more entrepreneurs to e-commerce scene. There are close to 1.5 million Shopify stores today (Q1-2021) and 2 million running on WooCommerce. (source)
In order to stand out from the crowd and deliver products to the target segment of people, the store owners should understand the competitive landscape very well. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of competitors is the key for sharpening the competitive edge of your e-commerce business.
There are multiple aspects to considers in competitor analysis, these range from marketing to company structure (private, VC backed, etc.) Today, we’ll focus on analysing the products, suppliers, price points and technologies used by competitor Shopify stores.
I personally find it inspiring to visit Shopify stores and check these parameters not necessarily because they are a competitor but also to learn about new opportunities and ways of business doing.
Let’s start with focusing on the following parameters of the competitor Shopify store:
- Store characteristics
- Store history (when did they publish their first product?)
- Website design (what theme they use?)
- Activity (did they recently update their catalog?)
- Website traffic
- Catalog details
- Catalog size (how many products do they offer?)
- New products
- Pricing (lowest, highest and average price)
- Where do they buy their products from?
- What’s their profit margin?
- Apps they use
How to find the first published product on a Shopify Store?
Navigate to store URL and change to URL to this
STORENAME.com/collections/all?sort_by=created-ascending. This will list all the published products within that store from oldest to the newest.
How to find the theme name used on a Shopify Store?
The geeky – also long – way doing this is looking into the HTML codes of the website and searching for keywords like
shopify.theme. However this is a cumbersome way of doing this and you can easily learn the name of the Shop by using the free tool called Koala Inspector Chrome extension.
The Koala inspector is also capable of showing “when the last product was added/edited” on the Shopify store among with many other useful data.
How many products are listed in a Shopify store?
This is a tough one to answer by using manual methods. One way to accomplish this is to again going to the
STORENAME.com/collections/all?sort_by=created-ascending URL and counting the # of products on a page. Total products = (# of products per page) x (# of pages)
If you want to go with the quick solution, you can use the Koala Inspector Chrome extension here as well.
The Koala Inspector also provides the following information at the blink of an eye:
How to find what apps are installed on a Shopify store?
Shopify App Store offers hundreds of apps in each category and store owners pick and use the ones best for their interest. Sometimes you may wonder what app they are using for showing a beautiful carousel or a product outfit combination maker.
There are ways of finding out the apps installed on a Shopify store if the app leaves any traces (code) on the frontend (HTML) of the store however if the app is not changing anything on the front store, it is not very easy to track them down.
I often use Koala Inspector to quickly check the apps installed on a store, having it installed on the browser is a great convenience when switching between tabs.
Finding out the suppliers of your competitors
At the beginning of the article, I mentioned how dropshipping is booming with Oberlo and Aliexpress combination. It is not impossible but it’s definitely hard to distinguish with products if you are dropshipping. You can make difference with your narrative, marketing channels and service quality.
Although if you like to learn where your competitors are sourcing their products from, I’ve couple of advices for you:
- Google Reverse Image Search: If you are using Chrome; Right Click on Product Image and Click on “Search Google for Image”. This will bring you all the pages with the same or similar images. If this is a dropshipped product, the chances of finding it on other websites is quite high.
- Tiny Eye Image Search: Similar to Google’s image search you can also use Tiny Eye
Competitor analysis is not a one-time task, it is an ongoing effort in competitive landscapes like e-commerce.
Considering the number of competitors out there, it can be very time consuming to go to each of their website and run all of these manual steps. It would be better use a tool like Koala Inspector which also offers automated notifications whenever there are changes in the stores you tracking.
Bonus content from Shopify Blog: How to do a competitive analysis for your business?
Author's note: I've been using the Koala Inspector for the last 6 months for discovering and analysing the Shopify landscape. It saved me from doing a lot of leg work. Recently I had the chance to meet the founding team and I decided to mention their product in one of our blog posts. This post covers the use cases of the Koala Inspector based on my personal experiences and unbiased views.