With the biggest sporting event in the U.S. right around the corner, I've been thinking a lot about what it takes to "win" against the competition. Identifying a competitive advantage is one way small businesses have proven themselves to be unstoppable during the last two years. That's why I'm sharing a guide to identifying what your competitive advantage could be.
1. Quality of Products or Services
The fundamental purpose of running a business is to sell a product or service. Regardless of what that product or service is, you're going to have to compete with competitors for customers. One of the easiest ways to win over customers is delivering high quality.
Consider the core customer of The UPS Store -- the small-business owner. The past two years have shown us how much running a small business requires grit, tenacity, and fire. Our products and services are designed to make small-business owners' lives easier. Focusing on delivering high-quality products and services is what proves we're reliable and keeps them coming back.
Whether you're looking to create or improve your product or service, think about your core customers' needs and values. When you prioritize innovation and reliability, what you're selling will speak for itself.
2. Standing Out
Having the best product on the market is not required to stand out amongst the competition. As a small-business owner, you might find yourself facing obstacles such as limited resources, bandwidth, or knowledge, making it challenging to produce the superior product or service. But that doesn't mean you should count yourself out. Consider this: You have a great product, but no one knows or understands its greatness.
With a well-thought-out strategy, you can stand out among competitors. You might find that building a unique social-media presence, getting involved with and helping your community, or holding social events can capture attention of potential customers.
3. Affordable Prices
There are many things to consider when pricing your products or services. Being mindful of the prices you'll be competing against can give you an edge over the competition.
Shoppers value pricing as a top consideration when choosing which products or services to purchase. When purchasing a product or service for the first time, pricing inevitably impacts the consumer's decision because they haven't experienced the quality yet. It's only after a purchase is made that shoppers can assess the quality of their purchase. If you can offer better pricing without expensing quality, you will have an advantage in attracting and maintaining first-time and repeat customers.
4. Customer Service
People will always remember how you make them feel. Regardless of what you're selling, you must meet customers with hospitality, charisma, and respect.
Every exchange is an opportunity to build meaningful relationships with your customers, eventually leading to brand loyalty. Not only are shoppers more likely to return to a business after receiving great customer service, they are also more likely to recommend that business to their friends and family. With a direct correlation between customer service and bringing in business, prioritizing your business' culture and customer service can help you stand out amongst the competition.
5. Pivoting and Responding to Consumer Behavior
You will provide customers with a better experience when you understand consumer behaviors and trends. The world we live in is ever-changing, more so now than ever before. Being able to identify and respond to both the wants and needs of consumers will determine if you're favored over competitors.
The UPS Store recently implemented a major redesign to provide a more seamless and convenient in-store customer experience. Our extensive research inspired a reimagined floor plan allowing optimal space utilization; modular pieces, permitting customizable layouts depending on customer needs; and technology upgrades, such as digital menu boards and smart lockers convenient for the customer. Bringing customers an enhanced experience designed to meet their needs has reaffirmed their choice to do business with us.
While you should be sure to take a holistic approach to running your business -- aiming to excel in as many areas as possible -- identifying and zeroing in on your competitive advantage will help you get a leg up on your competition.