If your religious retail store has enjoyed smooth relations with your supplier for some time, it might never occur to you to wonder whether that supplier really has your best interests at heart. Is it possible that they've actually gone into business against you by selling their own products directly, skipping the middleman and effectively raiding your customer base? Let's look at how to identify a competitor in sheep's clothing -- and some smart ways to respond to this potential threat.
Do Your Homework
The first thing you should do to confirm your fears (or put them to rest) is conduct some research into how your religious retail supplier does business, and with whom. You might get the answer simply by combing your supplier's website thoroughly for any shopping carts, links to wholesale landing pages, or other mention of direct sales. Another helpful site, SpyFu, lets you enter your supplier's web address and see which keywords they've been buying. If you see entries such as, say, "religious items direct sales" or "religious products retailer," then you might have a problem on your hands.
Google also makes several research tactics available. For example, you can Google your supplier by name to see if any wholesale outlets appear in the search results. You can also go to Google Alerts and set an alert for any breaking news involving that supplier, or search Google Trends for any recent spikes in online interest.
researching your supplier's activities.
Market Yourself as the Better Choice
If you're determined to maintain "business as usual" with your supplier even if it appears to be offering its wares directly to the public, then you obviously won't win against that supplier in a direct price war over those items. But that doesn't mean that your supplier/competitor has won the larger retail chess game.
Stop and ask yourself what you have that your supplier doesn't. For instance, do you maintain a regular brick-and-mortar store staffed with friendly, knowledgeable sales reps, while your rival only sells online? If so, you've got a valuable selling point in your favor, one that adds instant value to your clientele and may make you a more desirable option. Do you have multiple supply channels that provide you with a wider range of items than your supplier can manufacture? That's another big plus on your scorecard.
Do you offer products or other
specialties that your competitor can't?
Work With a Dedicated Supplier
Of course, one of the smartest and simplest ways to make sure your supplier isn't a competitor is to choose a company whose sole bread and butter is the manufacture and wholesale distribution of religious items, with no separate retail presence of its own. McVan is an excellent example -- we've focused on importing and manufacturing religious products since 1944, making those products available only through select third-party resellers. Our business model simply doesn't include direct retail sales. Your competitors might retail our products, but it's not like you're going head-to-head with a wholesaler.
Make it your responsibility to know how your supplier works, and whether you need to be worried about the prospect of being undercut by that supplier. If you suspect the worst, then maybe it's time to go shopping for a more trustworthy vendor partner -- and you might as well start by viewing our selection!