How-To Comp Shop Like A Pro

You should consider carrying out a Comp Shopping Exercise at least once every season. This will give you an idea of what the retail key trends are and who are the key players.

Prior to going Comp Shopping you should decide on what categories & subcategories you are going to focus on. There are so many things to look at and see, that if you don’t have a plan it’s easy to get overwhelmed and sidetracked.

When you walk out of a store you should be able to critique the category and be able to give valid reasons behind your opinion. Here are some of the things to look for when you go Comp Shopping:

Products

  • Trends and Innovation of Assortment New ideas and trends or safer, last years styles?
  • Themes/ Mood/Subjects/Key Items -What they are standing for?
  • Color Palette – For specific category & overall
  • Details- fabrications, materials, embellishments
  • Overall Assortment - Is it all one manufacture or are they “mix & matching” from multiple manufactures?
  • Seasonality of Assortment- Do they have a whole holiday section/area?

Inventory

  • SKU Counts- How many Sku’s are they dedicating to each category? How many are gender neural, feminine, masculine? (i.e. They are only carrying 3 Happy Birthday Gift Bags, 2 of which are gender neutral and one that’s feminine)
  • Category- How large is it? How many sub-categories? How many manufactures are in a given category?
  • Inventory Levels- Do they have a ton of one item vs. another, Why?

In Store Experience

  • Window Displays – Are their displays innovation and unique, eye-catching? What type of materials and fabrication are they using. Is there some technique you can incorporate into your illustration. (i.e. Anthropology windows are always amazing)
  • Displays/Propping – Are they stuffing in as much product as they can or are they taking the time to actually highlight a “Hero”. Collections that are propped actually sell better. What type of products are they putting on the End Caps (those are always big buys & top sellers)
  • Customer – who is she or he? What is she/he shopping and purchasing? What is her style and taste? What is she wearing?

Pricing/Promotions/Marketing

  • General Pricing- High End, Mid, Low
  • Markdowns, Clearance Area & Strategy- Do they always have a huge area dedicated to clearance? Why are items marked down? (i.e. seasonal) Was it a “bad” design or just good design that they bought too much of?
  • Signage/Communication -Are they using any illustration or design elements and does it tie back to the packaging? (Target does this really well for Holidays)

Some Stores you may want to Comp Shop at:

Anthropology
Barns & Nobles
Bed Bath & Beyond
Borders
Carter’s Outlet
Children’s Place
Cost Plus World Market
Forever 21
Gap
Gymboree
Hallmark
Kate’s Paperie
Macy’s
Old Navy
Office Max
Papyrus
Party Place
Pottery Barn
Staples
Target
Urban Outfitters
Wal-Mart
Williams-Sonoma