Competitive shop programs, also known as competitive price checks, are a retailer’s main method of gaining visibility into their competitors’ pricing. An increase in hard-to-match private labels and the entry of digital e-commerce pricing have introduced higher rates of errors and reduced their effectiveness.

With the right best practices, competitive shop programs can change from being a source of frustration to a source of strategic advantage.

Here are some tips on how to help optimize your competitive shops:


Tip 1: Match your KVI list to your competitors’ products.

More often than not, the data that comes back from a competitive price shop has significant errors. You can’t make good decisions based on bad data, and scenarios like this only puts merchandising and pricing departments at odds with each other. In order to get the right pricing data, you need the right product list.

By matching your KVI list to your competitors’ products first, you save time and effort for both online and in-store data collection. When collection auditors are free to collect prices, they can spend less time looking for products that are unavailable at the competing store. This has two benefits: decreasing the labor costs of the shop and increasing the quality of data.

Tip 2: Do full-books sparingly.

Full books are expensive. The top 10% of products sold typically represent 50% of the total sales dollars. Therefore, full book programs that invest as much in competitive shopping slow-moving items as in fast-moving products are not cost-effective. The problem with full-book shops is that they assign the same value to slow-moving goods and fast-moving goods. As a result, goods that only need to be price-checked yearly are lumped in with goods that change prices weekly–at a premium cost.

Our studies have shown that price change cadence for a lot of items at most retailers are not as frequent as most would think. This knowledge can free up upwards of 50% of budgets to achieve more strategic competitive visibility like assortment changes. You can request a sample price change analysis for a typical retailer here.

Full-book shop costs

On average, we recommend that full-book competitive shops be done between two to four times a year. This can be supplemented by precisely targeted competitive shops.

Tip 3: Match your private labels.

When price-checking a retailer of similar size, it’s advantageous to match your private label products to theirs prior to the competitive shop. By matching private label products and finding equivalents, the collected data becomes much more accurate.

Egg Comparison

For example, if two stores offer private label free-range eggs but one carries a dozen-egg carton and the other an 18-egg carton, it takes more time for an auditor to make this connection and collect the data. By linking the products beforehand, the auditing process is streamlined, and more accurate data comes back to you.

Without product matching, visibility into your competitors is compromised. Private label products offer a greater picture of a retailer’s pricing strategies, and serve as important markers for category trends.


To unlock the last 4 tips, register here.


Combined with other pricing solutions, these tips can stack to make the most out of your competitive shop programs. To learn more about how Engage3 uses artificial intelligence and machine learning for retail solutions, you can register to receive our White Paper here. Frank Scorpiniti, CEO of Earth Fare, also sat down with Engage3 founder Ken Ouimet to discuss the latest industry trends and technology at GroceryShop 2018 — watch the video here.

Marielle Fong

Marielle Fong

Head of Marketing at Engage3