Product Selection and Keeping Your Business Relevant

Product Selection and Keeping Your Business Relevant

I have written a lot about how small business needs to create value, fill a niche, and overall differentiate yourself with your products and your service in order to stay relevant.  If you are a small retailer, the products you select for sale can be make it or break it.

Obviously, you want to have products that are as unique as you can get.  At least some of them.  You need to give your prospective customers a reason to come in and buy from you.  In some situations such as in Newport where I live, many stores offer goods not just to the locals but to tourists as well.  In this situation, some of the products should reflect the pride of place.  Newport is a world famous resort.  Some items should have “Newport” on them, or be made in Rhode Island or refer to sailing or Newport’s architectural heritage, etc.  I was at the Newport Flower Show last year and purchased some cool beer glasses with the street grid of Newport etched on them.  The etching will never wear off, dishwasher safe.  I paid a premium but got a premium product.  This is the kind of product perfect for a small business.  I can’t go on the internet and price shop for it.

Your product mix is key.  You need enough unique stuff to differentiate yourself.  If you are selling lampshades, you want some things that are different.  You also want some that are high quality.  If you really want to be a premium store, most of the things should be of high quality.  If you want to entice people in with a lower priced item, sell something of high quality at a very small markup.  You won’t make much on that but you will get people in and many will purchase something else, even if it is more expensive.

Few people will buy an expensive car without driving it.  The customer needs and wants to fall in love before buying something expensive.  Then they can worry about how to get the money.

The ultimate product differentiation is a product that is truly unique.  Come up with some great ideas of something that will sell in volume.  Then commission it.  Design it.  Arrange to have it made for you.  While this will take a while, you end up with a few items no one else has.  Then promote these items to get people in.

Bryan B Mason

Apollo Consulting Group, Providence, RI

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