The online marketplace, with the input of Search Engine Optimisation and Marketing, can mean that your competitors are quite different to those you face in the bricks and mortar marketplace.
Traditionally, your competitors may have been those shops located in a busy shopping mall, selling a similar range of products to your own. Both you and your consumers can infer this similarity from what is presented in the store, and from in-store displayed advertising/promotions. Conversely, such comparisons are not so easily made in the online marketplace, and your competitors are likely to be businesses which you perhaps didn't even consider you were up against.
Why the difference? The methodology applied in the world of Search Engines, in relation to consumers search queries and which websites appear in the results, takes into account many factors. One of these factors is the relationship between the keyword phrases used in a particular search query, and which companies have used these keyword phrases in the Search Engine Optimisation and Marketing of their websites. If the brick and mortar shop at the end of the mall has a website with a focus on product 'B' only and your website's main focus is on products 'A' and 'B', then the Search Engines will establish that your target markets are different, therefore your online competitors will also be different.
It can seem odd that a website which is remarkably different to your website is one of your competitors in the online marketplace. It is important to remember that your online competitors may offer slightly different services to your business. As an example, a website which appears on page 1 of the search results for a keyword phrase related to product 'B', might also sell another entirely different product range as well. Overall, these online competitors are appearing for the same keyword phrases as your website and vying for the same visitors.
Being a website owner, it is highly likely you have carried out a few searches using a keyword phrase related to your business, but haven't seen your website in the first 3 search result pages. Given this cause for concern, you are now considering a Search Engine Optimisation and Marketing strategy to help increase your websites rankings and resultantly gain more traffic. Did you also jot down who your competitors were when you conducted your search? These businesses are your online marketplace competitors.
As we noted above, the Search Engines consider many factors when determining which websites to display for a given search, based on relevancy to the search query. Because of this, it is imperative that your website measures up against these relevancy factors. Enlisting the ongoing services of a Search Engine Optimisation and Marketing Company, will ensure that your website is positioned competitively against your online marketplace competitors - both those you are aware of, and those that you are not.