Are your offline competitors the same as your online competitors?

Any business or brand should have a good idea of who their main competitors are. However in some instances, offline competitors are not necessarily the same as online ones. For example a an online only retailer cannot measure themselves against a competitor with 500 retail outlets as they trade in different ways. In other cases, new entrants may come into a market with a different business model altogether that may end up usurping traditional businesses. Below are four examples of where offline competitors may be quite different to online ones.

Local Takeaways

A takeaway restaurant may consider other local takeaway establishments in the same vicinity as their main competitors. However, if they cannot take orders online, they will be competing with (and by default, losing to) other local takeaways who are online.

Local Fashion retailers

A local clothes store will be competing against other clothes shop in the local area. They may be the best and most popular store in the area and generate the most income. However, when it comes to trading and competing online, that counts for nothing, as globally, anyone can in theory compete with them. For example, a designer menswear shop might sell Ralph Lauren clothes and be the only store in the local area stocking this brand. However, online they are competing against global menswear retailers, marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay, plus the brand themselves.

Estate Agents

Traditionally, estate agents will compete with other agents in the same area. Typically a provincial town may have a handful of local agents, all offering a similar service and at a similar price, based on the sale value of a property. However, online they are not only competing with traditional agents but also online only agents, who are often thousands of pounds cheaper. These online alternatives may one day become the norm that could see the end of the high street estate agent.


The traditional B&B is a well established alternative to a hotel. Locally B&B’s will compete with other similar establishments in the same area. In tourists hotspots such as Blackpool, they are one of the most popular forms of accommodation, leading to strong competition for customers. However, once the competition moves online there are competitors outside the traditional business model, such as AirBNB, whose so called “disruptive innovation” means customers now can consider to rent other people’s properties, as well as opt for more traditional accommodation.

So, as you can see. Your offline competitors are not always the same as your online ones. Although, as we have explored in the above four niches, online businesses seem to have the advantage.

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