"I love beer."
Not just any mass-produced beer, mind you. I enjoy what’s come to be known as craft beer.
I love walking into my local brewery and tasting what new concoctions they have on draft this week: savory fruits, bitter hops, or earthy wood tones are a few of the more unique variations you can find around the local breweries here in Louisville, KY.
I enjoy speaking with the brewers about what sort of flavors they are working to create, and where the inspiration for their work comes from. In turn, when they answer my questions, you can truly tell they are passionate about their craft.
The reason my experience is so unique and engaging at these local shops is because the brewers have devoted their efforts to one thing and one thing only: making and selling beer. I would not receive the same experience if I took my business to a chain grocery store or gas station. The workers there are selling other items and have other priorities besides just selling beer.
Focusing on an eCommerce Niche Market
As of late, eCommerce retailers have been adopting a similar businesses model that focuses on eCommerce niche markets.
Simply put, eCommerce niche market retailers have hyper-focused products that appeal to a specialized but profitable corner of the market.
Traditional eCommerce retailers are those that sell a wide array of various products with no specific eCommerce niche market or clientele in mind.
One of our clients at SkuVault sells outdoor camping and hiking gear. And let me tell you they are masters of their craft. They could tell you everything you need to know about their products, similar to my experience at local breweries. And many new eCommerce retailers are seeing great success from adopting this business model.
While possible, it’s highly unlikely that retailers entering into eCommerce are going to be able to compete with the heavy hitters: Amazon and eBay. These two eCommerce titans sell pretty much anything you could possibly imagine: cat food to comic books and everything in between. And while it’s definitely possible to do, we can’t all be Amazon.
I believe there’s more than one reason these eCommerce niche retailers are experiencing such great success.
eCommerce Niche Retailers Know Their Products
Rather than continue on with my personal experience of craft beer (since beer can not be sold online in Kentucky), I’d like to focus on outdoor camping equipment for this example.
eCommerce niche retailers are masters of their products. They know their products inside and out and their customer service reflects that. Between direct chat boxes and quick email responses these eCommerce niche retailers are offering the same informative shopping experience as local brick and mortar stores.
This type of business model allows retailers to not only become eCommerce industry leaders, but also industry leaders within their specific niche market. This is reflected in their blogs and social media.
Much like specialized brick and mortar storefronts, the staff is usually knowledgeable on their products and often use the products they sell on a regular basis. It’s best to sell what you know and that’s exactly what eCommerce niche retailers are doing.
Rather than listing a handful of family camping tents, a eCommerce retailer would list dozens upon dozens of tents that all serve different purposes: weather proof tents, family tents, individual lightweight hiking tents, etc.
Their product descriptions are often more in-depth and personalized. Their product photos are more detailed; showing you all of the ins and outs of their products you need to know.
Selling hyper focused products allows these retailers to offer their shoppers a more customized and informed shopping experience. Rather than shoppers buying what they think they might need, eCommerce niche retailers are selling their customers exactly what they need.
More Unique Products = More Unique Brands
Not only do these eCommerce niche retailers understand their products better than traditional eCommerce retailers, but often their products are more unique than those of traditional retailers, in turn creating a more unique brand image for themselves.
Slide Belts is a great example of a eCommerce niche retailer who has used their unique and modern line of leather belts to establish themselves as a fashion industry leader and unique brand.
Slide Belts sells unique leather belts that they themselves use and enjoy wearing on a daily basis. The style of belt was originally a worn by the Russian military, however Slide Belts redesigned the belt to have a more modern aesthetic.
Their belts are both innovative and fashionable. And rather than selling their belts on traditional eCommerce web stores, they used their unique clothing line to create a hip and modern brand image for themselves.
When shopping on their website, customers shop reassured knowing that all of the items they are viewing are unique and customized. This is completely different than shopping on Amazon or eBay where customers have to hunt for clothes that are up to date with modern trends.
In turn, Slide Belts does not compete, not that they need to compete, with these larger traditional retailers because they have established a niche market for themselves. They understand their customers and what their customers are looking for, and because of the unique brand image they have created for themselves, are able to market their unique product to their niche market extremely well.
eCommerce Niche Retailers Know Their Clientele
I recently had the pleasure of doing business with Warby Parker, a prescription eyeglass eCommerce niche company who has recently expanded their business to include brick and mortar storefronts in addition to their online web store. My experience with them was solely online, however.
After my experience with Warby Parker, it was evident from their marketing campaigns and their customer service that they know exactly who their clientele is and what they are looking for – young professionals in need of trendy eyeglasses without the high cost that is usually associated with trendy eyeglasses. Because they are only selling one product, it’s easy to both market their product and understand the clients who want to buy their product.
eCommerce niche retailers have a clear audience to market to. Traditional eCommerce retailers have such a wide array of clients that it is nearly impossible to find a niche clientele to market to.
So if you want to be the next Amazon, hey, we’re not trying to deter you: shoot for the stars – we’d love to have another option when we need to buy cat food & comic books in the same transaction. Just keep niche in mind – it’s easier to market to, to cultivate a following from, and to build a brand around. Even Amazon started off as a bookseller!