If you have just entered into the world of e-commerce startups, you’ve probably done some research on different ways to approach the market. The possibilities seem to be endless – and so are the various pieces of advice floating out there. One solid foundation piece, though, would be to identify and build around a unique selling proposition (USP).
Your business USP is the statement of what you provide to customers that nobody else does. And even in the diverse e-commerce scene, regardless of what you’re selling, there’s bound to be somebody else who’s doing something similar – if not today, then maybe tomorrow. Focusing on what differentiates you from the rest will drive sales in the face of competition; it’s a selling proposition, after all.
So how can you define and develop your e-commerce startup’s USP? Here are some tactics.
Who is my customer?
Knowing what your ideal customer is like means stepping inside their shoes and figuring out what truly matters to them. If your online clothes store is targeting young urban women in their 20s, then consider their lifestyle and income. Where do they socialize? What price points are affordable? The answers to those questions will be very different for a demographic of businesswomen and executives in their 40s or older; you’d want to shift to premium quality and service in that case, with a higher price point. Since this is e-commerce, email surveys, website traffic, and mining social media data are all going to help inform you of your customer profiles.
What is the competition doing?
Success in any field doesn’t come in a vacuum; you build on the work of others, form strong networks, and edge out competitors. That won’t be possible without staying on top of the latest industry trends. Price tracking to know where your competition is possibly undercutting you – and where you might stand to benefit from undercutting them – is part of developing an overall pricing strategy that lets you maximize sales profits.
Winning the price battles isn’t the only way to gain an edge. Monitoring trends can inform you of where other retailers are focusing their efforts – perhaps because the demand for a specific product has risen. Riding a trend often makes sense only if you have the right timing and positioning to take advantage. Remember that you want to set yourself apart, so when others are focusing their efforts on one area, you can try to beat them at everything else.
Is there a problem that needs solving?
Despite the vast scope of e-commerce, there are always opportunities for a business to gain traction and bring in new customers by serving a need that isn’t being met. While many retailers want to ride the hottest trends, there are customers who might be looking for something different, and you can cater to them and become the go-to store for that niche.
Keyword research and shopping insights tools are some of the best ways to identify opportunities. You can analyze what people are looking for and compare with what’s available on the market in order to pinpoint products that your store can offer to a niche market. The flexibility to adapt and establish this sort of customer base is what lets smaller startups compete with larger, more established e-commerce brands.
There are many other ways to find out your USP. What matters most is that you think hard, take notes, and get really creative in order to set yourself apart from the ever-widening competitive field.