Benchmarking: What is benchmarking and how to apply it in eCommerce
Benchmarking is the concept used to explain an improvement process in your brand, business, or product based on analyzing what others are already doing (for example, the competition).
Suppose you have an online store or are thinking of creating one. In that case, I recommend you delve into this practice since it is essential to achieve a business with a continuous state of progress. Why is that important? Let’s find out.
What is benchmarking?
The definition of benchmarking originates from the English term benchmark, which means “reference.” So, benchmarking is the practice of taking the best in their field as a reference, seeing what they are doing, analyzing it, and taking what works for your use or benefit.
It is often called the technique of “continuous improvement” because it invites you to be in a constant process of searching for new forms or practices to implement. The key? Look at those who have already done it, understand their methods and transform them into your own based on an adaptation to your particular reality.
Is it worth applying benchmarking to my business?
Now that you know what benchmarking is, I imagine you are wondering if it is worth investing your time in. The answer is, without a doubt, yes. And I’ll explain why.
We are living in a hectic time, especially in eCommerce. In this industry, there are constant changes; new features, channels, and players emerge. So, suppose you will be involved in the world of electronic commerce. In that case, you must generate a friendship with the idea of constantly improving.
What is one of the keys to this process? That’s right, benchmarking. As we saw, this strategy allows you to look at companies, brands, or people that you admire, that you like what they do, that they are your direct competition, or that they are innovative.
It can serve as a channel for countless improvements, for example:
- Inspiration for the growth of your brand or your products.
- To improve internal processes of your company.
- Understand what is already working (and what isn’t) in your industry or market segment.
Analyzing what others have already done saves you a whole period of trial and error of your own. In this way, you can apply directly to your business what you think may result in your particular case, in your context.
Benchmarking: steps to put it into practice
Beyond theory, it is essential to follow specific steps so that the benchmarking process is productive and not simply remain in a place of admiration or desire for what others are doing.
For this, you have to be clear about the following benchmarking steps:
Step 1: Plan
In the first instance, you have to be clear about what aspect of your brand you want to improve. Decide what are going to be the themes that you are going to focus on in this analysis.
For example, it could be that you want to improve the product page of your eCommerce to have more sales (photographs, descriptions, etc.) or also understand what should apply good practices about customer service.
If you still do not identify them, find out who the referents are in these matters. Don’t be left with only one option. Remember that there are no ideals and that you may be unable to apply everything to your reality. So, I recommend having at least three referents per area.
Do not forget that they do not necessarily have to be direct competition or be in your same industry. The important thing is that it helps you to see how to handle specific issues.
Step 2: Analyze the information
Once you have your references identified, it is time to sit down and gather all the information that may be useful to you about those brands or people.
Today we are lucky that the digital world allows us to access countless sources of information online: either directly (from a website and social networks) or indirectly (through tools such as Google Trends ).
Once you have all the information collected, it is time to conduct a deep analysis of your business. It is essential that you can identify what things would serve as improvements or promising practices and what processes you could transfer to your reality. And if necessary, how would you have to adapt it to fit your current scenario?
Step 3: Define your enhancements
From the analysis of the previous step, it is time to decide what points you will be working to apply in your business.
It is vital to put together an action plan with tasks, steps, and dates so that ideas do not remain in the air or wish for improvements.
How to apply benchmarking in eCommerce
In the case of the e-commerce industry, we could identify many aspects to put benchmarking into practice.
The online store
When creating or improving your online store, you can refer to those brands that inspire you:
- What attracts you to those stores?
- How is your design?
- How are your messages?
- Do you display your products in any particular way?
Remember that they do not necessarily have to be competition from your same field. Still, brands you believe are managing to build a successful path.
The digital marketing strategy
When you put together your digital marketing strategy, you can apply benchmarking to see which campaigns are succeeding with your leading brands.
What kind of advertising do they do?
- On what channels?
- What action do they invite in their ads?
- What promotions do you offer?
- Do you give discounts?
- How are they handled on special dates?
- Do you send newsletters?
- In which social networks are they present?
- What kind of content do they post?
If you want to improve your post-sale service, you can make some test purchases and evaluate what you find.
- How is the customer service once the purchase is finished?
- How is the logistics and delivery process?
- Is there something in the packaging and the way of presenting the product that catches your attention?
What no one tells you about benchmarking
As a closing, I want to leave you with a reflection: remember that benchmarking is not about copying what others are doing.
Whether you are looking to improve your product development, your customer service, or your marketing strategies, for it to be an effective strategy, this analysis must be just a starting point: a reference that you can take and adapt to your own. That is the key to true innovation.