Why Your E-Commerce Store Needs a Unique Selling Proposition

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So, what is a USP?

What does your business do, that no one else does? If you’re having trouble answering this question, your business probably doesn’t have a Unique Selling Point. Your USP is the marketing concept that differentiates your business from the rest (your competitors). It’s the product (or service), which is exclusive to your company. Simply put, it’s the 'why you?'

When should your USP be established?

When it comes to your USP, timing is crucial. In the digital age, the e-commerce industry is saturated, meaning potential customers are able to search for a product/ service online and find a multitude of very similar businesses. It’s important that you have a clear USP before launching your business. Being clear about your USP will prevent you from wrongly positioning your business and spending money on costly marketing endeavours that may not be necessary. Once you have established your USP, it is imperative that it is successfully communicated to customers. In turn, it will be easier to sell your business idea to customers and foster business growth.

Why it’s important to set up your USP before you launch 

1. It’s your business’ personality

In the digital age, the e-commerce industry is already full of ‘really great products’. For your Unique Selling Proposition, the clue is in the word ‘unique’, which is defined as ‘being the only one of its kind, unlike anything else.’ Your USP is your unique selling point and your brand personality. Without one, your business could be lacking the memorability required to engage and acquire potential customers. It’s the foundation of your brand, who you are, what you do and why. Your USP should not only define your business, but also set it apart from others. If you’re having trouble defining your brand, click here.

2. Your USP brings you focus

Once your USP is established, running your business will be much more straightforward. A clear USP should influence your marketing strategy, determine your target audience and help you structure your content based on your target customers. It can also be a strong indicator when prioritising the next move for your business, and can assist with setting goals and targets. Lastly, having a clear idea about what makes your business unique will provide clarity for your employees. In turn, they will gain a better understanding of why they are working for the company, and what it is they are trying to do.

3. Building stronger relationships with customers

If you want to build a solid relationship with your customers, you need to understand what they want. A business with a strong USP will engage and excite potential consumers. Your business is much more likely to acquire loyal customers (who will also refer you to their friends) if you have a distinctive feature. Your USP isn’t free shipping, discount codes or your generous return policy. Instead, your USP could be the materials your products are made of, where they are manufactured, or the personal story behind your business.

4. Uncovering new markets

In an already saturated e-commerce market, your business may struggle to find opportunities for growth. By establishing your USP, there’s a good chance you’ll discover new and untouched markets.

5. It can affect your price

A product that is limited edition, rare or one of a kind is worth more. This is the basic concept of supply and demand. If your business has a distinctive feature that no one else is offering, you will have more control over how to price your product. It’s important to understand that ‘price’ alone is not a Unique Selling Proposition as it is controlled by market variables.

Unsure what your USP is? Just ask

Your USP should answer some pretty important questions. If you’ve heard the phrase: there’s no such thing as a stupid question, consider now the time to question everything: What does your business do? Who are your customers? What do you offer? What do others offer? Why are you in this industry? What is the industry missing?

Once you’re happy with your answers, your USP and you feel you have a solid brand, it’s time to start asking your customers questions. This process is referred to as market research - and it’s essential. You can read a bit more about this here. If your business is aiming to inspire ‘everyone’, it’s actually unlikely that you’ll be able to engage with anyone at all. In order to target your consumer, you’ll need to know who your customer is, their age, gender, location, need, budget etc. Targeting a more specific customer will help tailor your business. By conducting market research, you'll be able to make smart decisions, adjust marketing plans and prevent errors and unnecessary spending.

Some examples of really good USPs

1. TOMS Shoes

The inspirational footwear company was founded by entrepreneur Blake Mycoskie in 2006, after he volunteered for a shoe drive on his visit to Argentina. At first glance, the shoes are rather ordinary, everyday shoes (though they are designed to be comfortable and practical), but it’s TOMS extraordinary philosophy that gives the business its USP. For each and every pair of shoes sold, TOMS donates a pair of shoes to charity, and they ensure that each customer is aware of the good they’re contributing to. On the TOMS website, users are able to browse through the many heartfelt stories describing the charitable projects that TOMS has taken part in. On the sole of each pair of shoes, there is a line of text that reads ‘With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a new pair to a child in need’ alongside their unforgettable hashtag: #oneforone. This USP is easy for the consumer to grasp, and it’s memorable.

2. FedEx

The American courier company grew astronomically from a small sized business based in Tennessee to become one of the leading, global courier giants (not a bad market to crack when you consider the millions of parcels being delivered daily as a result of e-commerce). Their USP was a promise that came with the slogan ‘When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.’ The competition in the courier industry is fiercer than ever, whilst the concept is simple – a service that delivers and picks up your packages. FedEx recognised the lack of individuality in the sector and differentiated their business, reassuring consumers that their fast service is a guarantee.

3. M&Ms

In 1981, M&Ms ran a TV commercial that coined the iconic slogan ‘melts in your mouth and not in your hand’. M&Ms communicated their USP, reminding consumers that their products are unlike any other chocolates. M&Ms chocolate, with it’s sugar, shell casing won’t melt and make a mess. This USP differentiates their product from competitors and leaves a lasting impression.

We’re here to help

Coming up with a USP can seem a little daunting at first, with countless business owners hitting a wall when trying to determine what makes their company unique. Elkfox can offer you support when building your Shopify store to ensure that you are effectively communicating your USP, and consequently acquiring and retaining new customers. Get in touch with Elkfox and we can help you discover you brand’s unique selling point and build you first website.