Would not you love to have your customers and friends say, "Man you OWN that market?" If a customer can not find it at your store, it is not going to be found anywhere! Whatever your business is in your market area, how often do you ask yourself how you're doing compared to the competition. If you are number one in your market … congratulations. I know it took a lot of hard work to get there.
Most of you may never be # 1 or even # 2 in your market overall, but if you want to survive and make it a heck of a lot easier on yourself, you need to own some category or categories as a part of whatever you do . What do I mean? You need to be the best at something! Do you have the best selection in wedding rings, greeting cards, tropical fish, or even men's hats? It may be the most fun store to shop; the best customer service, the most educational, etc. Find something to be the best at and after you've done that, stay the best, and then find something else to be the best at. I do not care who you are, how small you are, and what you do as a retailer; this is within your power no matter who you compete with. If you tell me there is nothing you do that you have a chance at being the best at, then I would tell you to find a new category you can own.
The following six areas summarize those types of categories you may want to go after and OWN. While virtually no one can excel at all of these, any retailer expecting to become a serious and dominant player in his market should be extremely strong in at least one of these areas! Two would be fantastic!
1. Be totally convenience oriented with ease of purchase, easy to find, and easy to get in and out of, to make life easier and less time-consuming for customers, such. For larger chains, this could be Walgreen's or McDonald's. It could also be something as simple as a hot dog stand in the right place. It might be good printer ink and laser cartridge store.
2. Become upscale by offering strictly high quality-merchandise and being a premier brand name. You're working to appeal to status and image conscious customers with your merchandise as well as your atmosphere and employees. This may be a high-end home decor and furniture store. But if you're going to appeal to affluent customers, you will really need the whole package. You can not sell at full boat pricing, without the quality, the atmosphere, the service and possibly even the location. You really can not leave one of these out.
3. Provide over-the-top customer service to appeal to customers who want you to take care of their needs and cater to them in a highly service-oriented fashion. These customers are willing to pay for excellent service and expect it. Does your store offer a clear highly identifiable level of service compared to everyone else? You will still need to appeal to the people who can afford to buy from you. If you can not own a category, you can own the customer buying experience!
4. Provide a unique environment and / or experience to sell your own manufactured product where there is little to no competition for your specific merchandise, such as at Apple. A store that makes it's own glassware or jewelry would be an example. A cheese cheesecake store that bakes all of its own product is another example. A gallery of a well-known area painter would fit this description also.
5. Be totally dominant in certain important categories of merchandise. In this case you are a truly specialized retailer with an unbeatable selection and have employees who are knowledgeable in your specific market area. Maybe you're the hands down choice for anyone looking for the best variety of fabrics, or rocking chairs … whatever it is. Maybe you're the only store in your market to carry every kind of vacuum known to man. This is the type of store, where customers say, "If you can not find it here, you can not find it at all."
6. Provide an entertainment or educational experience that is totally unique and almost impossible to duplicate when compared to the competition. Provide an experience in which the barrier to enter your arena of competition or service is high and hard to duplicate, such as Build-A-Bear, a beautifully landscaped nursery, or pumpkin farm. I have a classic car business near me that totally takes old bodies of old automobiles and collectively restores them along with some other vintage collectibles.
(Becoming the low price leader in your market is another area you can OWN, but I have not included it, because I would not recommend it.) Leave it to the Wal-Mart's and Home Depots of the world.
Make it your goal in 2011 to OWN at least one or two important areas of business in your market.