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Developing the Unique Selling Position (USP)

Once the eCommerce manager has a clear goal for the company's digital strategy, the most important step of all comes next: defining the company's unique selling position (USP). The USP states what makes your business different from your competition, why a customer should buy from your business instead of your competitor, and what your company offers that the competition can't.

As an eBusiness consultant, I've seen more than one company's eCommerce initiative go south because they didn't perform this crucial step. This problem dates back to the idea that developing an eCommerce site is no different than developing any other web site: "Just find a web developer, tell him to put up a few product pages or port over the company's catalog pages, toss in a shopping cart and an autoresponder, and you have a successful eCommerce site."

This is a recipe for failure.

An eCommerce manager must know the difference between a web site design process and an eCommerce web site design process. The eCommerce web site design process starts with creating a USP and designing it into the web site from the get-go. Too many eCommerce web designers consider the USP only after they've created the eCommerce site, giving little or no thought to how the site will be marketed after its completion.

Here are some elements that an eCommerce manager must consider when creating a marketable USP:

  • Does the business sell on price, product or service selection, or customer service?
  • Does the USP clearly state to the consumer "What's in it for me?"
  • Does the USP meet human needs—physical, safety, emotional, belonging, or esteem—of your target customer?
  • Is the USP based on consumer research regarding the "problem" your business is trying to solve?
  • Can you state your USP in a tagline of 5–10 words?

Answer these questions, and the company's eCommerce initiative is off to a proper and effective start.

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