How to Stand Out in Retail? 3 Expert Tips!

Like many bloggers, news anchors and retail gurus have already proclaimed, retail isn’t doing as good as it was a few years ago. Many retailers go out of business and have difficulties differentiating themselves from the big guys such as Target, Amazon or Nordstrom. Others have it hard to stand out online as a retailer.

It might seem near to impossible to get started on the differentiation between you and your biggest competitors. We must agree: the business is a tough one. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you out! We’ve gathered some tips and tricks to help you stand out in retail and to distinguish yourself from these giant retailers.

1. Stand out through your service

Many retailers or brands might find it hard to compete with the prices or the products their competitors have to offer. However, there are other aspects where you can compete with the industry’s leaders. An example? Service.

Service is one of the things that’s near many customers’ heart. It’s an element of a brand that is difficult to imitate completely. Service is that thing that helps you distinguish yourselves from others. So, let’s have a look at what other retailers are doing to make them stand out from the crowd.

First off, we have T-We Tea, a tea shop in San Francisco. Besides selling loose leaf tea, the retailer also sells tea accessories such as travel mugs or tea infusers. They’ve got several shops in the United States, but they’ve also hosted a few pop-up stores to increase brand awareness. But most of all, T-We Tea is very customer-centric.

To stand out in retail proves to be tough. But T-We Tea does an excellent job! They send customers handwritten thank-you cards to show they care deeply. That's good service!
T-We Tea shows they care deeply about their customers by sending them personalized, handwritten cards. We’re all up for it! (Source: VendHQ)

When T-We Tea notice a customer frequently purchases from them, they send them a handwritten note to thank them for purchasing. How thoughtful! By doing so, T-We Tea captures the attention of their customers and shows them they care deeply about their clients.

However, this goodwill action is not limited to smaller businesses only. Bigger corporations can use this technique as well to thank their customers, with a printed thank-you card or a surprising birthday message. This approach definitely makes T-We Tea stand out in retail!

2. Underline your value

Competing with your biggest competitors’ prices seems like a hopeless task, and many retailers struggle to match those low prices. What if we told you that you don’t need to compete in price? Invest in the value of your product(s) instead!

Yes, price is something that we always keep in mind when we’re shipping. Fortunately, it’s not the only thing we take into consideration when we’re on the verge of buying. A study of Nielsen showed that customers value more than price only. 57% said that the high quality of offered products highly influences a customer’s decision in where they shop.

Consumers are often willing to pay more if they think the benefits outweigh the price […] To keep shoppers coming back, however, brands must exceed shoppers’ expectations and convincingly demonstrate that the higher price is truly justified.

Nielsen Company

We can thus say that price is not a decisive factor and that offering value is. Brooks Running, for instance, does a great job at this. When a customer has purchased a pair of shoes on their website, they receive some extra goodies, just because! Enclosed with your new running shoes or apparel, you get a Run Happy kit: filled with inspirational stickers and goodies.

Brooks Running does an excellent job at showcasing their value: besides the products you buy from them, you get a glimpse into the brand’s values as well. Just like T-We Tea, the sports apparel retailer demonstrates the importance of a community and of a strong connection with customers. Ready to follow suit?

3. Create a solid omnichannel strategy

Another technique that will help you stand out in retail is building – or expanding – an omnichannel strategy. If you want to compete with excellent customer service, you’ll need to offer your customers a smooth shopping experience, drifting from one channel to the other. Only if you’re able to create a solid omnichannel strategy, you can challenge and compete with your opponents.

So, what’s the next step then, you might ask? First of all, you’ll need to figure out via which channels your customers find your business. In this day and age, your efforts should definitely be focused on your website. This channel is where customers find what time your store opens and which items are available. However, digital is not the only way to go.

Wherever you can, make an offline connection with your customers. By doing so, the consumer will have a stronger connection with the people behind your retail organization. Besides, this proves to be the ideal opportunity to get to know your clients better: ask them via which channels they prefer to be contacted or which channels they use before they make a purchase. Let’s have a look at the example of L.L. Bean.

L.L. Bean, an American retailer specialized in outdoor clothing and equipment, has been acclaimed the number one in customer service, for three years in a row. Before the birth of eCommerce, the retailer focused all of its efforts on catalogs and phone business, but the game has changed for goods. One specific way of how they integrate an omnichannel strategy is by giving customers the possibility to scan codes of products with their phones.

One of the most popular parts of the site are the customer reviews. They believe them, they’re useful and transparent. We gave customers the ability to scan a code to immediately get the reviews in the store.

Steve Fuller, CMO of L.L. Bean

As the case of L.L. Bean proves, omnichannel is the strategy every retailer should follow. It is successful for your relationship with your customers and provides them with a smooth shopping experience. Besides, omnichannel made L.L. Bean stand out in retail, triumphing over Amazon.

Competing is a well-considered choice

Competition can be tough. However, it’s not impossible. We’re not saying you can now face the big retailers such as Amazon, Alibaba or Target, but with some guidance, you can get far. Firstly, you don’t need to compete with your opponent’s prices. To stand out in retail doesn’t mean you need to offer the lowest prices. Standing out in retail means you’re remarkable: you’re one of a kind with your unforgettable customer service. Besides, customers keep coming back because of the value your products give. And last but not least, a smooth shopping experience helps you retain and gain customers as well.

So, are you ready to face your competition? Don’t forget to share this post with your retail colleagues. And, don’t forget to share any other tips you have for competing in the retail industry!