How to Create a Strong Unique Selling Proposition for Your Online Store

Oct 18, 2016 by Michelle Nickolaisen
How to create a strong unique selling proposition for your online store
Posted Oct 18, 2016 by Michelle Nickolaisen

There’s a crucial element to running a successful business — one that many owners overlook, whether they’re on day one or day one hundred of their business. They aren’t sure why marketing is so hard, why the sales are so much work. One possible answer? You need a USP.

What is a USP?

USP stands for “unique selling proposition,” and it’s the reason that customers come to you instead of another business. It’s what makes you you.

Here are a few examples:

  • Yeti was founded by two brothers who wanted a cooler that would stand up to any kind of wear and tear imaginable and keep drinks and food ice-cold for days — one that was built for outdoor enthusiasts, not your average user.
  • Zappos sells the same shoes that everyone else does — but their returns and exchange process is incredibly easy, and their customer service is top notch.

Your unique selling proposition is, by definition, unique.

It is not something like “we offer the lowest prices on the market.”

You don’t want to rely on something as weak as price to differentiate, because then the only reason your customers will stick with you is due to price — as soon as they find another company selling similar products or services for less money, they’ll jump ship.

You’ll find yourself in a race to the bottom, which isn’t a sustainable business position.

Your USP should be specific, memorable, and something that you can make your own.

If a competitor can easily steal your USP, then it isn’t a strong enough USP yet.

Ideas for your USP

Aside from the above guidelines, here are a few more specific jumping-off points for when you’re brainstorming your USP.

Product

This is the most basic USP. Yeti, the example from above, focuses on aspects of their product (more durable and effective than any other cooler on the market) as their USP.

Two common qualities used to differentiate products are design and durability; Apple’s computers are well designed, Yeti’s coolers are extra-durable.

If your product is more durable, better designed, or functions differently than your competitors, then that can be your USP.

Related: Need Help Figuring Out What to Sell Online?

Positioning/Audience

What does your brand feel like?

Your positioning (the tone used in your copy and branding) and your audience can help differentiate you.

For one example, look to Nerd Fitness — a lot of the basic content there is found elsewhere, but the branding of that content as specifically for nerds and making it feel unintimidating has attracted a huge audience.

Nerd Fitness

Nerd Fitness

Meaning

Is there a deeper meaning behind your products? When someone supports your store, what are they supporting?

Sudara and TOMS are two examples of this — when someone purchases their product, it benefits a whole community and not just the business itself. If your product/business does something like that, or keeps a family tradition alive, then meaning should be part of your USP.

Service

Zappos is a perfect example of a business where their service is their main USP.

You can buy the same shoes from anywhere, and usually for the same price or lower — but Zappos is renowned for its easy return process, fast shipping, and amazing customer service.

Amazon has also used service as a differentiator with its Prime program, giving people free two-day shipping.

Related: How To Provide Excellent Customer Service: Advice From 5-Star Ecwid Ninjas

Once you’ve brainstormed a few ideas for each of these categories, you can combine them in different ways to create your USP.

Here’s an example inspired by Bombas, which is a combination of product and meaning:

We make the best socks you’ll ever wear — and for every pair purchased, we give a pair to homeless shelters.

Once you have a few ideas of what your strongest differentiators are, you can put them together in different combinations to create your USP.

You’ll want to refine it over time so that it’s memorable and specific, but don’t feel like it has to be perfect right now — it’s better to have a work-in-progress USP than no USP at all.

Inspiring examples

Need some more examples? Here you go, straight from other Ecwid users.

Munchkin Mission is  you guessed it  mission-based in their USP, as a non-profit with a very specific purpose: helping military families and children.

Munchkin Mission

Munchkin Mission

Taylor Family Farm has their slogan on their front page: “Fresh, non-GMO products from our farm to you.” This is a combination of product (fresh, non-GMO) and meaning.

The meaning element is a little more subtle here, but when people buy from Taylor, they know they’re supporting a family owned business and a small farm, over a large corporation — and that’s going to factor into their buying decision.

Taylor Family Farm

Taylor Family Farm

Kokosina’s about page says “we sew for people, not catwalks,” while also highlighting the quality of their bags (genuine leather).

Their USP is a combination of product (high quality, well-designed, genuine leather) and audience (everyday people, instead of rich models).

Kokosina

Kokosina

And PocketLab’s USP is a combination of product and mission — their header image refers to a “laboratory in the palm of your hand” (product), and directly under that is their mission:

We believe anyone can be a scientist. PocketLab enables students, educators, and makers to explore the world around them. PocketLab brings science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to life like never before possible.Pocket Lab

In other words, when you buy from PocketLab, not only are you getting something that’s hard to find elsewhere (a sensor with app connectivity for easy data processing, that doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars) and you’re supporting a company that wants to make the STEM realm more accessible to your everyday person.

Pocket Lab

Pocket Lab

I’ve figured out my USP — what’s next?

Spent some time brainstorming and you have your USP?

Great — the next step is to make sure that it’s front and center in your website design.

If you’re struggling with that, our free Starter Site Feature can help you fix it; there’s a nice place for your USP right on the homepage.

farmeruncle.ecwid.com

farmeruncle.ecwid.com

Enjoy and have fun!

Read also: New Ecwid Starter Site: A Great Look For Your Online Store From Day One

About The Author
Michelle is a freelance writer living in Richmond, VA, with her Shiba Inu and cat named after the Hulk. When she's not writing about business, she can usually be found working on her novel series or other side projects, or training Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

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