Hanging Onto Your Unique Selling Points

| Tuesday, January 4th, 2011 | No Comments »

When thinking of starting your own shop you will have considered what would make your shop stand out from those of your competitors – what gives it its edge. And if this is something that you haven’t yet considered, then you should.

Your USP will be a feature or a benefit that you alone offer. This could be lower prices, a wider range of products, a different version of products such as larger or smaller sizes or perhaps you want to give the customer a positive experience.

So how do you define your USP? Well you need to offer something that your competitors do not. For small independent retailers it can be impossible to match the larger stores for price, so think of who your customer base are and why they would come to you over the cheaper department store on the outskirts. Perhaps you have free parking you could advertise or perhaps your USP is all about customer service. In the case of Boudiche, a successful lingerie company, their USP was all about service, luxury and indulgence. Customers shop there for the experience, for the feel of being pampered and leaving with something special that is tissue-wrapped in a gorgeous bag.

Here’s another example; there are thousands of clothes shops all over the UK so what makes Top Shop so successful? Well their USP is to offer a wide range of fashionable, young and trendy clothing at affordable prices. If you walk into any Top Shop store you are left in no doubt as to who their customer base is. The very feel and vibe of the place is young, hip and trendy.

Yet since Top Shop launched in the late 1970s there have been plenty of competitors who have followed suit, offering a wide range of their own affordable, young fashion such as GAP, FCUK, H&M, etc. In fact in the 1990s the store underwent a bit of a crisis before it reinvented itself and now competes successfully with designer brands and labels. So how does it stay ahead of the game? Well as their customer base are young fashionistas they look to appeal to those customers by offering downloadable widgets on their website, podcasts and style blogs. They also have an impressive facebook page.

Once you’ve worked out what your USP is you need to hang onto it. As I mentioned in the case of TopShop, their competitors are now large in number and all are jostling to offer the same value for money and service for the same customer base. So TopShop stay one step ahead by embracing the technology around them and appealing to young people in this way. Don’t get too complacent thinking that because you offer expert pet advice and a free nail cutting service that this will mean your services will stay unique. Once Pets At Home discover you as a competitor, they may start offering the same service to try and snatch back their lost customers. So if you are providing expert advice you might want to give talks on different subjects once a week/month and invite other experts in the field to contribute too. Or you could set up a stand in a pet show offering your services for free on that day.

So don’t make the mistake of thinking that once you have identified your USP you need do no more work in that area. That’s exactly what your competitors will hope you will do. Keep on top of your ideas, check out your rivals and constantly be on the lookout for new ways in which you can reach your customer base.

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