Lately I’ve been spending some time with Fashion E-commerce entrepreneurs who are looking for business advice. Inevitably, the topic of growth comes up – “How can we grow our business?”
When talking about growth, I see how many of us are overly focussed on marketing. We are looking for “Out of the box” ideas, those ninja techniques that will sky rocket our company’s growth, for example:
- “Follow your customers across all platforms”
- “Go for Omni Channel Retail”
- “Provide personalized shopping experience”
- “Invest in that new social platform”
- “Read their behavioral psychology” etc
I can go on and on with the list.
OK, nothing wrong with investing in these marketing areas, they can indeed help your business grow. But none of these can ensure your brand’s growth, right?
So, what’s really your brand’s long term growth strategy – It is having great core product!
It’s like – you have a great product, you find customers, they pay you money for the product and you make profit. And if they like your product and if you provide them a great service, they come back to buy again and also tell their friends about it.
So, it all starts not with the marketing, nor the service, but an outstanding product.
This is fundamentally how a retail business grows. As obvious as this may sound, it’s almost too simple to work.
But wait a minute, you might be thinking – ‘This is e-commerce and I am a fast fashion brand. I sell product”s” and I am offering the best collection. I have even asked my customers and they all seem to like it. Isn’t that enough?’
No it’s not enough. Because there are thousand other stores who have a great collection or that’s at least what they believe. Offering great collection of products can get you some customers, sales and profit now but it won’t ensure your brand’s long term growth.
If you really want to build a truly sustainable and profitable business, besides offering great collection of products, develop one solid core product category.
If you don’t know what I mean by core product, I am copying excerpt from one of my previous posts. Feel free to skip this part if you have already read this post.
Core products are central to the company’s performance and make the most money that sustain the business. Core products are also usually the first products that the company created and sustained itself from its founding like the Windows Operating system for Microsoft, The Macintosh computer for Apple, Inc., the Google Search platform for Google, etc. Therefore there is emphasis placed on the profitability of core products while working on other products hoping that they will become a competency for the company. The products that make the most profit are usually the core products. Other products that are not considered core products are called side projects, side products and experimental products. – Wikipedia
In other words – Core Product category of your online store is the category for which you are confident that no one else is better than you in making and presenting these products. It’s this category in which you have the confidence that you deserve to win biggest pie of the market share and you won’t give it away to anyone.
For example – Burberry sells many categories such such as Fragrances, Makeup, Bags, Shoes etc on their online store. But it was born from a trench coat – it has been their core strategy to focus on making incredibly Sustainable Luxury Coats. This focus has helped them be Sustainable, Profitable & Relevant to their customers for over 150 years.
Many start-ups either don’t know what the Core of their Brand is or they lose sight of it in the changing market situations. They focus on too many categories and lose focus of their core.
You need one rock solid product and make it the foundation of your brand. You not only have to be a master at making this product but also presenting it on your website.
The whole point here is that – while you can’t be great at everything that you’re selling, there can be one category (or sub-category) in which you’re better than any other brand out there.
Characteristics of a solid core product
If you have a solid core product, it should fulfill any one or all following requirements:
- The products should be exclusive to you
- Their design needs to be 100% unique and best in the segment
- It should be of the highest quality in its segment
- Products in your core category should provide tremendous value
- They should solve a real problem
- Customers should place repeat orders and refer their friends
Benefits of staying focussed on your Core Product Category
While it would be a vain attempt to beat your competitors in all your categories, there can be one category (or sub-category) in which you’re better than any other brand out there. Here are some of the benefits of focusing and developing a solid core product:
- Core product gives you something real to talk about – a real story to tell to the world. Your business becomes share worthy and news worthy.
- It works as a doorway to your brand for new customers who land on your store to buy your core product and later find other categories that you have to offer them. Thus, it helps you penetrate and build market share.
- It will help you be profitable even when other non-core categories don’t perform so well.
- It enables you to maintain your margins because you don’t have to deal with any competition in that segment. No one is forcing you to drop the price.
- It keeps your brand relevant to your customers now and for ever because great products never go out of fashion – they evolve.
- It allows you to increase your life time customer value because it makes your customers come back to buy again and again.
More than anything else, a core product gives your business a real purpose and you a sense of direction.
So let me ask you this – Do you know what your core product is? If your answer is no or may be, then it’s time for you to go back to basics. Get your product strategy right before investing more money in your website’s design or marketing.
Research, innovate and make one product category an ultimate work in progress, always ahead of your big & small competitors. That’s what your long term growth strategy should be and your chances of growing into a truly successful brand are much brighter that way.