What is monitoring?
Monitoring is searching for information on a subject or a person (whether an individual or a company) that will be sustainable. This work is essential when launching an online retail business.
If you set up a business selling foie gras, for example, you will have to constantly monitor your competitors in this area, follow market developments and be immediately informed if a new player appears on the scene.
There are two monitoring methods:
- The first is called “Pull”, and consists in drawing certain information towards yourself, such as when you carry out a search on Google.
- The second is called “Push”, which involves pushing information towards yourself, by gathering information automatically. An example of this method would be signing up to a competitor’s newsletter.
Find out everything about your competitors
The first step when launching a business (whether online or not), is to study one’s competitors. Who are they? How many are there? Which are the large organizations and which are the smallest? What is their turnover?
With online sales other questions come naturally: is their website fairly new? Is the online store well known on the internet? It is regularly updated? And so on.
Understanding your competitor’s profile
You need to identify your main competitors. There are many tools online that will give you information on each of the listed.
All the businesses registered with the trade register are listed. You can quickly obtain free information by entering the name of the company or its SIREN number. You will find out about its legal form, its share capital and staff. This should give you some idea of the size and importance of each organization. If you want further information, you can purchase balance sheets and income statement for little more than €3. Do note, however, that the data is one to two years old, so do be careful with the figures as these do not always correspond to the business’s current position.
Obtaining information about the competitor’s website
Now that you know a little more about your competitor, you may like to find out when its website went online. This is simple. All the domain names are listed in an international register. You need to check this database to obtain this information. This type of research is called Who.is. If the domain name ends in “.fr”, you can use the Afnic service. For others (.com, .net, .org… ) there are many online tools, such as Who.is. You will therefore know on which date the domain name was registered for the first time and who manages it (it may provide an indication as to who created the site, for example).
There is another useful tool, especially if your competitor’s website is a few years old. It is called WayBack Machine, and is a website that stock all the internet’s archives! You could find all the versions of your competitor’s websites and study the changes. It is very informative!
Monitor your competitors
Once you have investigated your competitors, the real work starts. The aim is to find out everything that happens on their website. All the updates will need to be monitored…
There are several ways of doing this but the main thing is to sign up to the newsletters and subscribe to the website’s RSS feeds (if any). You also have the option of downloading software that tracks websites’ updates, such as Wysigot (which has a free version called Light) or installing an extension to your Firefox browser such as Update Scanner.
💬 Please do not hesitate to contact your Business Coaches should you have any questions!