It’s easy to think of the world of eCommerce as being dominated by the brands that can offer the most and extend the furthest. Once a humble online bookstore, Amazon is even going as far as to move into health care these days.
Luckily, consumers aren’t mere sheep, and while convenience and price do play a part in decision-making, so too do elements like customer service, unique offerings, and expertise.
For all of these reasons and more, small businesses and start-ups are aiming to go all-in on a niche and innovate within that small sector. The ability to minimize competition and cut marketing costs have made doubling down on a niche particularly appealing in the online space, and doing so doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re cutting off consumers.
Why go for the niche-down approach?
The capitalist system that we live in encourages and helps behemoths like Walmart and Target over smaller businesses, giving many the view that a wider-spanning offering is a way forward. However, there are platforms that help just about any small business to get an edge, such as the innovative app invented by Frank Rice, Searchable.com.
Most customers know that major companies selling online care little for them and expect smaller businesses to have a more personal touch. With those that become internet-based general stores, like Amazon, customers usually buy from them just for convenience or price point rather than because they will get the very best or expert input. It’s the inherent authenticity in a specialized online store that lends it credibility.
Big-name brands that span many products and services are rightly seen as insincere, so committing to a niche and offering a range of options that your business has verified automatically makes you stand out as an expert. Importantly, a niche-down isn’t permanent. For many, it’s a starting place, but you can still have growth on the horizon by earning a name within the niche and then expanding slightly.
Does going niche limit your potential?
Once you’ve narrowed in on your niche, you’ll find that you can focus your stocks, refine your offering, and clearly display your selling point. Many see a niche as being restrictive, but it is the opposite: you can innovate and show variety within your niche in order to stand out as an expert in the field. You could bring in different brands for the same product, discover new suppliers from around the world, or invest in the research and development of a new form of the product.
Expanding within a niche can sound difficult, but so many successful niche businesses find ways to do so time and again. You can just look at the game of blackjack in an online casino as an example. Starting with a couple of traditional, limited variations, the platform has gradually built up a comprehensive library.
There are 24 different blackjack games from various suppliers and in different variants, ranging from Vegas Strip to Premier Blackjack with Lucky Lucky, Single Deck games to live casino blackjack hosted by celebrities and professional croupiers.
There are many more examples of niche businesses finding success in California in the same way. Dog Haus specializes in high-quality hot dogs with premium ingredients and special additions to make the dish more than just the bun, meat, and sauce.
Their gourmet sandwiches are distinct in appearance, thanks to the odd-shaped buns, and range from the Cowboy with bacon, cheddar, onions, and BBQ sauce to the very distinct Old Town and Sooo Cali choices.
The Reservoir Hog, with its sausage, Polish kielbasa, Haus chili, Haus slaw, and yellow mustard never fails to impress – and neither does the Italian-powered The Fonz.
What benefits are there to being niche?
Perhaps the most enticing aspect of going with a niche for your business – beyond the potential income – is that you can run with one of your interests and passions. These immediately give you an advantage as you’re not only knowledgeable from
the start, but your passion will carry you further into the niche. You’ll easily identify the needs of the market and the products that work or not.
Sometimes, you don’t need a particular product that you’re passionate about but rather a movement or belief. California-based company ArmorLite Roofing Technology is already niche, but they decided to delve into making greener products to help the planet and appeal to fellow green-minded customers. This led them to the ArmorLite product that uses a minimal amount of resources, is zero waste, and is completely recyclable.
Being focussed on a niche has many other benefits. Targeting one area makes research, study, and stock much easier to manage and coordinate. You can also receive more refined and specific feedback from customers to allow you to optimize the offering. Sticking with a niche can also do wonders for your marketing efforts, as you know exactly who to target and what specific products to put forward.
Going all-in on a niche that you’re passionate about is one of the key ways that a small business can compete and even outgun a major brand. If the more general approach is wearing you down, see if you can find your niche.