Don’t Be Tom, Dick, or Harry (Differentiate Your Business)

Unique Green PaperclipYou’ve heard that phrase, right? “Every Tom, Dick and Harry.” It evokes the idea of a bunch of people who are virtually impossible to tell apart, so similar they blur together. Those stories about how consumers buy jewelry from one store in town, then go into a different store asking for a repair or a new battery, not realizing that it’s not the store they bought from – those stories make us laugh, but they should be very concerning. Being indistinguishable from other companies is one of the worst things you can do, because if customers can’t tell you apart, they can’t be loyal to you!

Interestingly, those stores customers are confusing probably don’t look much alike. They probably have different carpeting, different types of cases, and different art and promotion on the walls. They have different floor plans, and different square footage. Yet consumers confuse them.

The suppliers that retailers confuse probably aren’t very much alike either. They could be in different cities, reside in very different types of buildings, and offer different services. Yet retailers regularly reach out to manufacturers asking for a competitor’s products.

How do you keep that from happening to you?

There are many ways to differentiate your business, but one of the most important ways is through your products. If your product offering is too similar to your competitor’s offering, customers will confuse you. Even worse, they’ll price shop you!

Every company, whether B2B or B2C, must create a product offering that uniquely expresses their brand. This doesn’t mean there can’t be any product cross-over. Every jewelry retailer needs to offer diamond studs and other bread-and-butter products. But there needs to be a core merchandise offering that is unique, that speaks to your target customer in a way your competitors do not.

For instance, if there’s a discount diamond retailer in your town (or neighborhood, depending on the size of your community), there’s not much point in having a second discount diamond retailer. That just makes the two businesses fight over customers – and that fight almost always comes down to price. But a retailer specializing in higher-end diamonds, or sustainably sourced diamonds, or diamonds pre-set in designer jewelry will attract a different clientele than the discount diamond vendor. Instead of competing head-to-head, each business can carve out its own niche. Even when it comes down to studs – which aren’t all that different from one another – these two different businesses would offer very different stud programs.

A good example of strategic merchandise thinking is Marshalls, Home Goods, and TJ Maxx. All are owned by the same corporation, and all have significant cross-over in their product offering. But each brand has a core product offering that appeals to a specific type of consumer. Ford Motor Company reclaimed its economic power by deciding to focus on trucks and stop trying to compete in the numbingly similar world of mid-sized sedans.

One of the features we offer at VDB is the ability for retailers to reach out to online customers with thousands of products – and this could include your unique inventory if you like! This gives you all the power of the broad range of diamonds, color gemstones, and jewelry that are already available in the app, but with the specific flavor of your business and your carefully curated merchandise selection. We strongly encourage our customers to use this feature, because we know it will help you make more money and attract more of the right kind of customer for your business.

You can even use the app to build your unique merchandise offering! Using our collection building feature, you can search for the products that help you tell a unique story, and see how those products work together before placing your orders. Build as many collections as you want! Compare your collections to what you understand about your customers, their preferred price points, and their tastes. Then use them to compare to your competitors, to ensure you are building a merchandise selection that is not similar to what they have to offer. We still hear people say “I don’t want my inventory on the internet, because I don’t want anyone to copy it.” We think that’s all wrong! Look at your competitors to understand what they are doing, so you can do something different. That’s the only real way to grow and profit.

So don’t set yourself up for being price-shopped. Don’t ever lose a customer to the jeweler down the road just because they don’t remember your store. Differentiate your product offering and create a merchandise story that is uniquely your own.

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