They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery but what do you do when it feels like a competitor is copying your every move?
Today we’re talking about how to deal with copycat retailers.
To start off with, woo hoo, clearly you are doing something right, and are seen as a leader in your field, and that is worth celebrating, so go you!
But, it’s a pretty shitty feeling to open up your laptop and see someone who is blatantly copying all that you say and do.
After chatting with a lot of people in the retail industry, what I discovered is that copying tends to be more the online component of retail, and than offline, bricks and mortar side.
Let’s be honest, if you walked into a store that looked exactly like the store in the next street, you’d probably be more confused than anything. And if you went back again and the window display had changed to something similar that you saw in the original store, you’d start to realize that the second store didn’t have it’s own voice, it’s own soul.
So what do you do when you find someone is copying you?
Firstly, know your rights and ensure you’ve covered your butt.
Make sure that you’ve trademarked your business name and logo. This way, you’re legally covered if someone tries to copy your logo or business name. In addition, when you publish original content on your website, such as product descriptions you’ve written yourself, cheat sheets and blog posts, you automatically have copyright attributed to it.[Tweet “So you find someone has copied your digital work. What do you do?”]
Start off with a letter or email to the person who is using your material. This may be enough to get them to stop.
If they continue to use your material, you have several option including have a solicitor draw up a cease and desist letter, or you can report the offender to their web host or to search engines as infringing on copyright.
However, I have to put a disclaimer in here about website design: Quite often websites are created from templates. If you or your deign have chosen this option for your website, then expect that there will be many other sites that have the same look and feel.
But what if the ‘copying’ is more about your style, rather than copyright infringement?
Let me tell you a story about what can happen. I’ve gotten that phone call where someone tells you that they found someone who has copied your text, or your images, or your overall style.
My friend called me to say that she’d found a website that had an almost identical vision, and copied my mission statement.
Well, to start off with, most retailers don’t even include this stuff and when I had a look, it was nearly word for word. Better yet, there were pictures of stock, that had been taken IN MY STORE and passed of as this person’s own work.
It’s impossible to ‘be someone else’ forever. If someone is copying you, they aren’t being themselves, and eventually, that will become obvious.
You need to continue to show your customers, your suppliers and the rest of the retail world, how you’re different.
Use video, use photos, use blog posts and reviews to build your brand, to secure your position as a leader in your retail field and to speak to your customers in a way that is truly authentic to your brand.
At the end of the day, if someone is copying you, move on. Remove yourself from the situation and know that it’s impossible to ‘be someone else’ forever. Be Unique, own your brands voice and blitz your competition by being the first and the best to add value for your customer.
And what happened to the person who was infringing on my copyright? A quick call to my solicitor and for a couple of hundred dollars, he drafted a Cease and desist letter outlining what needed to be removed and by when.
The person did have a whine that their ‘copywriter” had drafted the vision and mission statements, and she’d paid for them, so couldn’t see why they needed to be removed. I politely pointed out that she should ask for her money back from that copywriter and the offending images and text was removed that day.
And that’s how you deal with copycat retailers.
Go forth and have a profitable day!