Never before have we had so many eCommerce brands. The barrier to entry in the eCommerce space has never been lower.
At the same time, the eCommerce failure rate has never been so high.
8 out of 10 eCommerce businesses don’t make it.
Being able to position themselves differently still remains the most challenging hurdle faced by most eCommerce businesses.
This is to say that most eCommerce websites look incredibly similar, not just in design, but in their brand tone and how they communicate.
Take two or more eCommerce websites operating in the same industry, remove their logos, and see if you can differentiate them. Being similar to other brands makes it difficult for prospective customers to decide which brand to buy from.
This is why you need to develop a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) for your online store.
Providing a good customer experience, free shipping, a strong return policy, 24/7 customer service, and high-quality products are some practical ways brands used to differentiate themselves 10 years ago.
Today, those ways are now table stakes.
Nowadays, customers are more demanding. They expect every brand to provide a good customer experience, empathetic customer service, fast shipping, and high-quality products.
So, in this time and era, how do you develop a unique selling point? This is precisely what we’re going to show you in this article. Keep reading…
What is a Unique Selling Proposition?
If your brand, product, or service was to be eradicated from the face of this planet, what is that unique benefit that the world will miss about it? If you have an answer to that question, you probably have a unique selling proposition.
A unique selling proposition is a unique benefit exhibited by a company, product, service, or brand that enables it to stand out from its competitors.
In other words, your unique selling proposition is the reason why you give your customers to choose you over competitors. You can also think of it as a competitive advantage that gives your brand a unique position in the marketplace.
It’s likely that many of your prospective customers have a lot of options. The product or service you offer has alternatives. And if you don’t have a specific benefit that other businesses don’t offer, what makes you think that you won’t lose potential customers?
The eCommerce space is unforgiving. It’s ruthless. And it’s fierce. This is why 80% of eCommerce businesses fail.
If you want to stay in the game and receive market share you either have to be the first, best or unique in your category or industry.
A lot of businesses kind of shy away from being unique because they believe that they might turn their back off all of this other potential business. So they choose to remain similar to other brands and do what everyone else is doing.
But that’s risky.
Because it makes it difficult for your potential customers to decide which option in your space is the one that deserves their trust, time, and money.
So, if you’re to go with being unique, make sure you differentiate around some elements that your target audience cares about, otherwise your messaging or branding won’t be nearly as effective.
3 Qualities of a Strong Unique Selling Proposition
Remember, a strong unique selling proposition is all about that specific benefit or value that makes you become different from your competitors.
Gone are the days when marketers used specific offers – 10% discount, 24/7 customer service, free shipping – as ways to differentiate themselves from other brands. Nowadays, those don’t count as USPs.
Although a powerful USP can be summarized in one statement, it’s more than just a statement. It’s a market positioning strategy that establishes the identity of your business, product, or service so that consumers perceive it in a certain way.
A powerful unique selling proposition should have these 3 elements.
Assertive, and memorable: The position you take has to be worth remembering and not cliche. Phrases like “high-quality”, ”do more with less”, “world-class” “we are efficient and effective”, “the most cutting-edge” are generic and gibberish. Any can claim to be “world-class”.
Focus on customer value: Your uniqueness has to be an element or aspect that customers care about. You will be ignored if you’re unique in something that customers don’t value or want.
Be more tangible. Don’t just say it, prove it. Walk the talk. Remember, trust is one of the most important factors for customers. This means that you should make sure that your unique selling proposition is more than a marketing message or slogan. It has to be tangible because it works as a backbone for your business decisions, processes, and overall culture.
Difference between a USP and a Value Proposition
Unique selling propositions and value propositions are often used interchangeably, but they are actually two different things. Their main similarity is that they all fall under things that brands want to communicate to their targeted audiences.
A unique selling proposition is usually that one bold statement (or headline) you see above the fold of a company’s homepage. In most websites, it’s usually a single sentence headline, and it often has a sub-headline underneath it.
As we have already covered, a unique selling proposition reflects the point of differentiation between your brand and its competitors. As such, it answers the question:
“What makes you different from the competition?”
A USP doesn’t have to revolve around details of a product such as features, quality, or even price. But it can be all about a unique aspect of your business such as speed, service, guarantees, dependability, customization, or even philanthropy).
In short, you can think of a unique selling proposition is something that positions a business in the market or in relation to its competitors, a value proposition is more focused on how your business will improve the lives of your customers. Your value proposition seeks to answer this question:
“Why should your customers care about you?“
Another to note about the value proposition is that it can be spread across different areas of your website. And if you are targeting more than customer persona, you can have more than one value proposition.
How to Create a Strong Unique Selling Proposition?
All the best eCommerce unique selling propositions don’t happen by accident or luck. They are a result of research and testing.
Let’s start by looking at the kind of research you’d need to do when writing a strong USP. The overall research process includes two main techniques:
- competitor analysis,
- and customer interviews.
You can get a good idea of the whole marketing you’re operating in just by analyzing your competitors. Competitor analysis is a crucial step that will help you know where your business fits into the market.
Instead of focusing on their products, analyze the ads they are running or the messages they use on their marketing campaigns. This will help you understand your competitors’ Unique Selling Propositions and how they want to be perceived by customers.
The next step is to talk to your customers. I know this sounds cliché, but it’s probably the most important and most difficult step. Talking to customers is the bridge that can separate great USPs from brand mantras that just aren’t relevant.
You need to know what your customers really care about, and not what you think they care about. Figure out why they decided to buy from your brand. Ask them about how they heard about your brand. And also ask them about other different options they considered before settling for your product or service.
Building a powerful unique selling proposition is iteration based on customer feedback, if you keep building in a vacuum and not testing, other people are just gonna shoot past you.
You do not want to talk to two or three customers and you’re done. Remember, you want to study customers and find out what drives and motivates them to make a purchase. So, talking to two or three customers won’t suffice. Ideally, you need to talk to about 30 to 50 customers.
When interviewing your customers, consider using the Jobs-to-be-done framework. It can help make the process of building your USP statement more concrete.
There are dozens of jobs that customers are trying to get done in every market, and the JTBD framework can help you unlock differentiation opportunities that you never knew existed.
After you have done your competitor analysis, customer interviews, discussed some ideas with your team, and eventually aligned on some USPs ideas, it’s now time to validate your ideas.
Enter testing – a step you don’t want to leave out.
Testing takes the guesswork out of building a USP and allows you to use real data to make informed decisions.
One way of testing your USP statement is asking unbiased readers – people who are not familiar with your brand – to read your USP statement. Ask them about their impressions, and if they are clear about the value being communicated by the statement.
Another way of testing the effectiveness of your USP messaging is A/B testing. You can compare your USP messages to see which one performs better.
5 eCommerce Examples of Unique Selling Propositions
To avoid getting lost in the theory, let’s take a look at the few real-world eCommerce examples of unique selling propositions so that you get a concrete understanding of how to develop one for your brand.
Black Rifle Coffee Company
The coffee industry is a highly saturated industry. According to Allegra’s 2018 report, there are 35,616 coffee shops in the United States. Standing out in such a flooded space is not easy.
But what makes Black Rifle Coffee Company stand out is how they positioned themselves in the market. They’re are pro-guns and pro-military:
Brands that are confident about their products often choose to take a bold stance in their industry to create a breakthrough. It might sound a bit risky, but it’s fairly a smart positioning and marketing strategy.
It’s not every day that you come across a coffee brand that associates itself with guns and the military. But that’s what makes Black Rifle Coffee Company different from other brands.
Positioning the brand as a pro-army brand is a risky strategy, and it’s obvious that it won’t appeal to everyone. But that’s what a good USP does. It attracts some audience and repels some people.
Remember, Seth Godin’s wise words:
“Everyone is not your customer.”
The level of competition in the women’s underwear industry is so intense. And if you are not one of the first brands in this industry, you’d need to be extremely different to compete with old established brands.
Third Love stands out in this space because of its USP which is inclusive: “Bras and Underwear for Every Body.”
I know that may sound just like a slogan that any other lingerie company can say. But Third Love inhales and exhales its USP.
They actually had to align the company’s branding, tone of voice, and marketing efforts to their unique selling proposition. They even built an app Fit Finder that allows new customers to find products that fit them well.
To make it even more appealing, Third Love also had to take a step further by offering a half-size mode and a one-time trial guarantee before the customer buys the product. And that is something that you don’t always find in most clothing brands.
Cosmetic brands for men may be fewer than those for women, but that doesn’t mean that the level of competition in that space is not extremely harsh. In an industry dominated by beard products for white men, Fresh Heritage’s unique selling proposition immediately makes a difference.
Their USP reads: “Organic, All Natural Products Inspired By Ancient African Traditions”
Fresh Heritage’s goal is to create beard products for black men using “organic, all-natural products” that do not affect the skin in any way. But any other cosmetic brand can claim that their products are created using natural elements.
What makes Fresh Heritage stand out is that all of its products are inspired by “Ancient African Traditions.” If you make such a bold statement, you at least have to back it up – and that’s exactly what Fresh Heritages does by showing a video of how their product came to life:
The weighted blanket (or gravity blanket) market is still growing. It’s currently valued at 381.44 Million USD, and it is expected to grow with a CAGR of 14.07% in the next six years. Considering that the weighted blanket market is growing, more manufacturers are coming into play and the space is going to get more and more fierce.
But companies such as Hush Blankets have figured out a way to stand out by coming with a unique selling proposition built around solving pain points. Their unique selling proposition reads:
“The Best Weighted Blanket to Reduce Stress and Fall Asleep Faster.”
From that one statement, you can tell the value that comes with their weighted blankets. You get better sleep and you sleep faster. This can impress people who are having trouble sleeping.
Hush Blankets don’t just claim that their product will help you sleep comfortably, but they are backed by substance, their blankets are engineered by Sleep Specialists:
This is something that can’t be claimed by every manufacturer of weighted blankets. And it is definitely something that makes Hush Blankets different from other weighted blankets brands.
If there’s an industry that is difficult to stand out in…it’s the clothing industry. When buying shirts, how many options do you have? Probably thousands I suppose. Most clothing brands do not know how to stand out in the clothing industry, this is why they inject a lot of money into Ads so that they get noticed.
But when you visit the UNTUCKit landing page you will quickly know whether your product is for you or not:
“Shirts designed to be worn untucked.”
As you can tell from their USP statement, they are targeting a specific audience that likes wearing their shirts untucked. If you are not into this kind of dressing style, you won’t have to browse their website further.
This is one of the perfect unique selling proposition examples that attract certain people and filter out some people.
A unique selling proposition is more than just a statement. But it’s a position that will help you convert and sell. It is something that customers will uniquely associate with your brand, product, or service. You don’t have to figure it out in one go, but you will have to do a lot of talking to your customers and testing. If you already have