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Does Your E-Commerce Website Have A Value Proposition?

Updated on June 30, 2013

Okay, so you’ve built a great E-Commerce website. The design is impeccable, colors and images carefully chosen, a photo shoot was commissioned so that the images are original and fresh.The content ( copy ) carefully crafted. On page SEO blended into webpage content and Off page SEO processes are applied consistently.Google analytic indicates that sufficient traffic is visiting the website.


None of the site visitors are transacting any business on the website. In fact it seems that they do not stay long enough on the website to reach transaction mode.

Something must be going wrong.

Step back a bit then take a long careful look at the E-Commerce website’s Home page and all its other pages.

Does the E-Commerce website Home page ( and all the other pages ) on the website provide a clean, clear value proposition to the site visitor?

Very likely not, which is probably a prime reason why site visitors are not staying on the E-Commerce website long enough to transact any business.

What Is Value

Value is what the customer perceives ( and receives ) from the marketing content on the webpage.It's the reason why a customer cares to stop and buy a product, or service.

Value must be perceived as real by the:

  • The customer segment being catered to
  • In the product(s) on offer
  • In the content ( words and images ) used to sell to the customer segment being catered to

Hence a Value Proposition is a tight definition, which cuts through the clutter of similar competitive offerings on other websites.

Let's Define Value Proposition

Joe Palamino, in his book, Value Prop, describes a value proposition as:

  • A set of promises
  • Based on the capabilities and credibility of the marketer
  • That helps prospective customers understand how an offering ( products and/or services uniquely addresses their specific problems, challenges and opportunities

Meclabs, which runs a unique course on Value Proposition, describes a Value Proposition as:
If I were your ideal customer, why would I buy your product, over those of the competition?

I just love the Meclabs definition, don’t you? It’s a real wakeup call.

The reason for the Value Proposition and its message specificity is because there are a ton of messages hitting website visitors today.
The human brain responds better to those messages that are:

  • Clear
  • Specific
  • Quantified
  • Verifiable


  • Of obvious perceived value to the site visitor

Value proposition is not a new concept, it’s probably as old as the hills. That said Value Proposition plays a pretty dominant role in the conception / creation and successful running of an E-Commerce website. It’s common knowledge for any business model to be successful ( here success being defined as Profits for the business owner ) the business model must offer a measurable value proposition for its customers.

Here is Wikipedia’s definition for the term Value Proposition.

A Value Proposition is a promise of value to be delivered and a belief from the customer that value will be experienced.

Successful marketers have clearly understood the difference between:

  • The products(s) and Service(s) they sell


  • How they fit in with what the site visitor perceives as value

Successful marketers - sell value.

The value ( being marketed ) has to be clear quantifiable, verifiable usually through testimonials and case studies, hence specific.

Why Does An E-Commerce Website Require A Value Proposition?

Remarkably, when a site visitor lands on any E-Commerce website it is solely its ( site visitor perceived ) Value Propositionthat determines whether the site visitor will stay the webpage and bother reading about the products / services available or bounce off the website in the shortest time possible.

Hence, all website owners, and especially E-Commerce website owners need to pay pretty close attention to the site visitor’s perceived Value Proposition on all the pages delivered by their website.

The less known the E-Commerce website is, the better the value proposition needed to make a site visitor stay on the website long enough to finally make a transaction.

Today there are a ton of websites, with little or no value propositions perceivable by a website site visitor, hence without exception they are struggling to generate inbound revenue and in all likely hood will perish over time.

What Exactly Is A Value Proposition?

A Value Proposition is a promise of value to be delivered.

It’s the primary reason a site visitor will buy from the E-Commerce website.

A value proposition is a clear statement that:

  • Explains how your product / service solves customers’ problems or improves their situation ( relevancy )
  • Delivers specific benefits ( quantified value )
  • Tells the site visitor why they should buy from you and not from your competitor ( unique differentiation )

E-Commerce website must present their value proposition as the first thing the site visitor sees on the Home page, but should be clearly visible in all major entry points of the website.

Value Propositions Are For People To Read And Understand

A value proposition is a message that human beings can understand almost without any thinking involved.

Translated: The text message and/or visual content of any value proposition is something that a human being
Reads / Understands / Responds to - swiftly.

Here’s an example of what a value proposition is NOT supposed to be like:

Our revenue-focused marketing automation & sales effectiveness solution
unleashes collaboration throughout the revenue generation cycle

Would an average John Doe, site visitor, ever be able to understand what’s on offer and how they benefit by paying for such a product or service?

I think not.

The Structure Of A Value Proposition

The value proposition is usually a block of text, which consists of:

  • A headline
  • A sub-headline
  • One paragraph of text
  • A visual ( photo, hero shot, graphics )

Okay so there is no one right way / guaranteed way / only way to craft a value proposition, but one can start with the following formula:

Headline: What is the end-benefit being offered, in 1 short sentence. Can mention the product and/or the customer. Is an attention grabber.

Sub-headline or a 2-3 sentence paragraph. A specific explanation of what’s on offer, for whom, and why is it just perfect for those it’s on offer to.

3 bullet points: List key benefits or features available

Visual: Images communicate much faster than words. Show the product, the hero shot or any image which reinforces the main message.

How Is A Winning Value Proposition Crafted?

The best value proposition is crystal clear about:

  • What it is
  • For whom it is
  • How useful it is for those its targeted to

If the content ( text / visuals ) of the value proposition delivers all of the above, great it’s perfectly crafted.

NOTE: The key challenge for all E-Commerce websites is identifying its most effective value proposition, and communicating it clearly.

The perfect value proposition has:

  • Clarity! It’s easy to understand
  • It communicates concrete results that a site visitor will get by purchasing and using the product and/or service.
  • It says how it’s different or better than the competitor’s offer
  • It avoids hype ( like never seen before amazing miracle product ), superlatives ( very best ) and business jargon ( value-add benefits )
  • It can be read and understood in about 15 seconds by the site visitor.

NOTE: In most cases there is a difference between the value proposition for the E-Commerce website and the products and/or services available. The E-Commerce site owner must address both individually.

What Is The Key Role Of A Value Proposition

A key role for the value proposition is to set the E-Commerce website apart from its competition.

Most site visitors check out at least 4-5 different E-Commerce websites before they decide whom they are going to go with. This is the site visitors Research Phase, the products / services on offer on the E-Commerce website must stand out to the website visitor during their ( important ) research phase.

So how do one make what’s on offer unique? Often it’s hard to spot anything unique about the E-Commerce website’s offerings. This does requires deep self-reflection and a lot of discussion.

If one cannot find anything, better create something. Do remember that unique part needs to be something customers actually care about.

There is really no point being unique for the sake of being unique, for example:

  • The ball bearings inside our bicycles are stainless steel, but blue in color
  • The thermocole granules filled in our bean bags are pure white
  • Our soda has a quiet fizz

The key is to remember is that the website really does not need to be unique in the whole Internet universe, just in the site visitor’s mind.The closing of a sale transaction takes place in a site visitor’s mind.

Boosters For A Value Proposition

If all the major things are pretty much the same between your E-Commerce website and your competitors’, your website can still convert the site visitor to a buying customer by offering small value-additions often called boosters.

Sometimes it’s the little things that can tip a site visitor’s, purchase decision, in favor of your E-Commerce website.

For example:

  • Free shipping
  • Free Insurance
  • Fast / Next day shipping
  • Free bonus with a purchase
  • Free setup / installation
  • No long-term contract, cancel any time
  • Use the product on multiple computers ( i.e. version 1 )
  • A cast iron, no questions asked, money-back guarantee
  • A discounted price for a product
  • Customizable products

Think of the small things the E-Commerce website could add, that would not cost an arm and a leg, but would be attractive to some E-Commerce site visitors.Make sure the booster information is prominently visible on the web page along with the rest of the value proposition.

Some Excellent Examples Of Value Propositions

  • Stripe is clear about what it is
  • For whom it is
  • Specific benefit oriented sub-headline
  • Relevant visuals
  • Smooth transition into features and benefits

  • A different kind of layout, but well done
  • It tells a story of what and how
  • Easy to follow
  • Key features / benefits listed along with relevant imagery
  • Remember everything is a good slogan

Ivan Bayross
Open source training | Open source tutorials


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