Competitive positioning

Competitive positioning

This is an anonymized example of a competitive analysis performed on behalf of the fictitious "ABC brand". It is intended to demonstrate the work product associated with such an effort, albeit each analysis is unique.

The purpose of this document is to compare the buying experience on with that on other identified lifestyle-oriented e-commerce sites, with the goal of providing reasoned recommendations to improve conversion rates. The e-commerce conversion funnel provides a useful framework for understanding the buyer journey, while acknowledging that different types of buyers might experience the funnel differently.

Conversion funnel: Users tend to, generally, progress through similar stages in the buy process, which, in the spirit of surfacing discernable patterns, I’ve grouped into four distinct phases.

  • Awareness: the user is looking for solutions to a problem. This is an opportunity to educate on the product’s feature set.
  • Interest: the user acknowledges a potential feature fit but does not feel urgency to buy. This is an opportunity to maintain awareness through drip campaigns, testing to see which messages resonate in the form of engagement.
  • Desire: the user is convinced that the product is the best option on the market and is nearing a purchase decision. This is an opportunity to speak to benefits rather than specs, help with visualization.
  • Action: the user is ready to become a customer. This is an opportunity to ease him along the purchase process by removing technical and financial obstacles.

This document will consider “on-site” content and processes rather than expanding to outreach content (ads, email), as a diligent review of this would require with further engagement with the team. As such, the analysis will generally focus on the “awareness”, “desire” and “action” phases of the funnel.

Finally, the buyer personas presented in this document are distilled from dominant themes presented across the industry. Further refinement is likely possible through an analysis of user data and industry-specific research.

Personas: While every user is unique, it is helpful to visualize in terms of groupings with the goal of identifying marketable similarities. Personas are “representative” users intended to symbolize market segments.

  • Functional buyer (Frank) - Core decision criteria include speed to decision and purchase, price.
    • Boots get him where he needs to go, hopefully without snakebite.
    • Unlikely to do a great deal of comparison shopping, except with regard to pricing. Does not want to be overwhelmed with specs on the way to checkout.
    • Also buys from Walmart, Supercuts.
  • Technical buyer (Tom) - Core decision criteria include material quality, comfort, durability, service.
    • Boots are tools intended to support the attainment of productivity goals. Likely aware of fabrication process, can discern level of craftsmanship.
    • May spend considerable time on research process to understand nuance of differentiation. Not as price sensitive, acknowledging “quality premium”.
    • Also buys from REI, Alienware.
  • Emotional buyer (Ed) - Core decision criteria include brand values (environment, ethical sourcing, giving) and supporting evidence.
    • Boots are extensions of oneself, enabling the attainment of life goals, and should ideally represent one’s personal values.
    • May spend a great deal of time digging into material options, in the spirit of optimizing for (low) environmental impact, fair trade. Not as price sensitive, acknowledging “ethical premium”.
    • Also shops at Whole Foods, Tom’s Shoes.

Of note, a survey of this nature is inherently biased, as the (sub)stages and facets, to some extent, contribute to the final conclusions. While we’ve attempted to use the industry as our guide in identifying these stratifications, it is important to understand that this is just one lens by which to see the business. Other lenses (SWOT, 5C) may also contribute to executive decisions.

Journey matrix:

  • Faceted with awareness, desire and action funnel phases.
  • Base and weighted scores.
  • Graded 1-5, where 1=very bad and 5=very good.
  • Weighted 1-5 by contextual significance, where 1=very insignificant and 5=very significant.


ABC generally tests at the bottom of the stack among the surveyed group of sites, across personas, while All Birds, Patagonia and Warby Parker tend to test higher. This is somewhat expected, as the group generally represents much larger brands with significant marketing and development resources. The following recommendations are intended as technical and business remedies to the ABC buying experience. Some reflect the best ideas currently represented in the vertical such that ABC can catch up, while others are new ideas intended to allow ABC to break away from the group. Carrying through on these recommendations will likely get ABC to an “A” across personas.

Initial recommendations (roughly prioritized):

Current state:


Assuming, of course, that the provided recommendations are implemented with excellence, I believe that we can double ABC’s score in 14 steps, making it an engine for growth at all levels of the sales funnel.

In addition to leveling up, I believe that there are some opportunities to accelerate brand growth:

  • Consider amplifying social activity, following Yeti’s “brand ambassador”.
  • Consider producing some long form video content highlighting the mission or lifestyle aspects of the brand, like Patagonia’s “artifishional” piece.
  • Consider a home try-on option, like Warby’s eyeglass trial.