It is critical to have an idea of competitor landscape, but we have to watch for not conducting an illegal and/or unethical behavior looking for competitor pricing.
You can see a good summary of what you can and what you cannot do in this blog post, and many other resources. I would like to add to the list of alternative sources for B2B competitor pricing in the new era of eCommerce and e-marketing:
Newsletters: Go and subscribe to the newsletters of your competitors. You do not need to disguise your identity, use your professional email address and register on their website as a visitor. Many of the newsletters featured products with price.
Promotions: If your competitors are running regular promotions, they usually add price information on that – like summer sales, clearance etc. Check on their “news” often.
Distributors: Asking a competitors’ pricing info from a distributor is not right – this counts against competition. However, if there are distributors who are making their suppliers’ pricing available publicly, this becomes public info. I’ve noticed that old-style distributors with basic websites just put the price lists online on their web all the time.
To do this more efficiently Google a mature SKU of a competitor, and you will see a long list of distributors offering it. Click one by one and you will see the distributors who make the price information publicly available.
To search for complete price lists online, that are publicly available, you can try this:
- Search Google for “Competitor_Article_Number filetype:pdf”
Promotional material: Look for the collaterals that your competitor prepares, or the ones that distributors prepare including your competitors. Here is a great trick:
- Search Google for “competitor_name filetype:pdf” or,
- Search Google for “competitor_name filetype:pdf site:www.distribuor_site.com”
- Search Google for “competitor_name filetype:pdf site:www.competitor_site.com”
(remove www if there’s no such prefix on the website you’re looking for, or try both)
You will be amazed with the richness and the amount of information you will find with this last search. Ah, also search your products and website as well, and see what information you voluntarily serve publicly and critically review it.
Do-it-yourself: If your product is one of those that could also be installed, go to the top of the value chain: B2C. Note that in many industries professional-to-professional products are premium, and DIY products are rather basic with premium packaging. It might be difficult to find the product families of interest in a DIY store, but it might give you an idea of the competitor price positioning.
Well, even when the information is available publicly, keep your ethical filtering on when looking for pricing information. Usually you will have legal / compliance colleagues around, and if you do not feel comfortable double check whether you can use the information from a specific source.