You've probably come across one of its stores in a mall. It's the one filled with kids and parents scurrying around to find just the right accessories for their freshly stuffed and stiched teddy bears. Build-A-Bear, a St. Louis-based company, has hit it big with its "build-your-own-bear" concept. So big, in fact, that it operates 152 stores, including a recent opening in Denmark, and is one of the largest privately held companies in St Louis.
But what can you learn from this niche toy business? Doug Fleener outlines a five lessons the bear store can teach any small-business owner in Stuff every small-business owner can learn from a bear, from the Boston Business Journal.
- Sell the experience. Buying a teddy bear -- boring. Get in on creating your own -- brilliant. It's the experience of building something that sells and helps this store stand out. Selling an experience in a crowded market can help a business owner bring new life to a product.
- Personalize the product. Offer customers the opportunity to put their "stamp" on the products you produce.
- Differentiate yourself in the market. FAO Schwartz was gobbled up by the big chains. To stand out, companies have to find their unique value propositions and exploit them.
- Create an intuitive purchasing process. It's the KISS principle. Make the path to purchase easy on your customers.
- Fun sells. Fun keeps people engaged. Take the pain out of making a purchase by being a bit more lighthearted in your sales efforts.
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