Niche ecommerce companies should focus on their value proposition. Fellow contributor Pamela Hazelton provides excellent advice on the subject in “Value Propositions Increase Interest and Sales.” I will add one point to her article: The value proposition should address a sustainable competitive advantage that the company will have over competitors — current or future.

Once the company defines it, the value proposition should be measured. Data from Google Analytics can be enlightening. It may confirm that the company’s customers align with the value proposition, but it may also identify reasons to adjust strategy.

Example Value Proposition

Here is a real example. When I started my company, Greek Internet Market, my partners and I assumed we would target mostly Greek Americans who were interested in purchasing Greek food items online because they could not find the products locally or they preferred the convenience of ecommerce.

Thus our original target market was primarily Greek Americans and, secondarily, all Americans who enjoyed Greek food.

Our original value proposition emphasized customer service:

Outstanding communication through the entire shopping experience and focus on building lifetime relationships with our customers.

We based our value proposition on our knowledge that sellers of Greek food were notorious for providing poor customer service and were not willing to change their ways. However, soon after we started selling online, we began measuring our assumptions and made two big discoveries.

  • Roughly half of our customers were non-Greek. We measured this informally by reviewing customer names from orders — not in Google Analytics. (We could have added a survey during checkout asking if the customer was Greek or not, and imported the data into Google Analytics.)
  • Our customers were mostly urban. We did not see a higher proportion of orders coming from rural places that would not have Greek groceries available. We obtained this data in Google Analytics using the City report, at Audience > Geo > Location and select “City” as the primary dimension.
Google Analytics was able to report most sales coming from cities, not rural areas.
Most sales came from customers in cities, not rural areas, as reported by Google Analytics.

Click image to enlarge.

We also used sales data to identify repeat customers to determine if our customer-focused approach was working. This data did not come from Google Analytics at the time because it didn’t have this capability.

However, we can now report repeat customer behavior by creating an Advanced Segment — click the link, then save to your View in Google Analytics — and running the report at Conversions > Ecommerce > Overview.

Reporting repeat customer revenue in Google Analytics.
In Google Analytics, Conversions > Ecommerce > Overview reports repeat customer revenue. Click image to enlarge.

We learned that a very small percentage of sales came from repeat customers. That was not promising! One of our assumptions was that outstanding customer service…