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eCommerce niches are a great place to start selling online
So you’ve finally decide to start an ecommerce business and start selling online.
Coming up with the perfect product to sell is the very first step of starting an online business.
One of the best ways to find a product is to look more closely at niche markets. Niche markets will open greater opportunities for you than if you choose something based on your personal interests or what you’re capable of producing yourself.
Choosing a great niche market will make you a lot of money too.
Before you create your Shopify store and start selling online, though, read through our breakdown of how to sell trending items in a niche market. By the end of this article, you’ll be able to confidently choose the path of your next ecommerce business venture.
In This Article... (Click to Skip)
- Reasons to Sell Niche Products
- Less Competition
- Cheaper Marketing Expenses
- Higher Return on Investment (ROI)
- Long-Term Success
- How to Choose Your eCommerce Niche
- Is There Enough Demand For The Product?
- Can You Keep Up With Your Competitors?
- Does Your Product Solve a Problem?
- What Products Are People Passionate About?
Reasons to Sell Niche Products
With the ease of dropshipping, ecommerce tools, and Fulfillment by Amazon, it’s easier than ever to sell products online. Even so, it’s not a good idea to jump into a Shopify store without first doing your research.
As tempting as it may be to take a swing at a multi-million dollar industry like yoga, for example, it would be well worth it to take some time to do a little bit of market research. See if you can drill in on something a little more specific that also provides the greatest possible return on investment (ROI).
This is exactly what niche marketing does.
If you’re still not convinced about the benefits of choosing an ecommerce niche market, then let me first lay out why it is better than mass markets. The following points are the biggest, most obvious reasons to select a niche when selling online.
Niche Products Face Less Competition
Niche products are, by definition, limited in both supply and demand. When compared to mass markets, the products sold in a niche market are only a percentage of the entire market.
While mass markets may have higher volumes of buyers, there are just as many sellers competing for their attention. And a good portion of those sellers are big sellers (ie. Lululemon sells yoga pants; Nike sells shoes).
Because a niche market has fewer buyers as well as sellers, you are putting yourself in front of a captivated audience that is eagerly seeking a purchase opportunity.
This will ultimately result in more sales and more cash in your pocket.
Cheaper Marketing Expenses for Niche Markets
When the competition is low for a particular product, your marketing campaign becomes significantly cheaper. With low competition, Facebook Ads become more impactful and you can basically cherry-pick your keywords for Google AdWords.
In the right ecommerce niche, you could even secure your Shopify store at the top of the search engine results page with some basic SEO.
By choosing a niche market, you are making the rest of your ecommerce business a much smoother process.
Niche Markets Offer Higher Return on Investment (ROI)
Targeting niche markets is an incredibly efficient way to run an ecommerce business. By targeting a product with low competition, you will not have to spend as much time or money competing with the ads and content of other businesses or brands. Digital marketing that is targeted toward niche products will essentially give you direct access to your target audience, who will eventually become your customer base.
By reducing the effort needed to get your ads and content in front of your target market and audience, you are increasing your ROI.
When it comes to running an online shop, ROI is everything.
An eCommerce Niche could build to Long-Term Success
Successful niche marketing will give you long-term success that mass markets may not be able to give you. This does not necessarily mean that you will be selling a specific product online for decades, though.
Instead, it means that you will be able to roll with the markets. You will learn how to choose a product that can withstand the test of time and to adapt your Shopify store according to the trends.
Not only that, but by learning to understand a successful niche marketing strategy, you are equipping yourself with the ability to sell any niche product online. You will learn to follow the trends, listen to the markets, find a profitable niche, and grow your customer base.
All small businesses, whether into niche marketing or not, could significantly improve their ROI if they learn to do these things. That kind of knowledge helps secure your long-term success, no matter the market segment.
How to Choose Your eCommerce Niche
Before you start brainstorming ideas about which creative niche you can join, learn about what makes a good niche market to begin with.
Just because a product is indeed a niche item, that does not mean that it is a profitable one.
To keep yourself on the right track, here are a few points to keep in mind:
- Is There Enough Demand For The Product?
- Can You Keep Up With Your Competitors?
- Does Your Product Solve a Problem?
- What Products Are People Passionate About?
Is There Enough Demand For The Product?
The biggest mistake that you could make when you choose a niche is to choose one that has no demand, or buyers. Rather than limiting yourself to an impossibly small niche, do a little bit of research to see that there is enough demand for your potential product to warrant opening a Shopify store.
To get fresh niche ideas, it makes sense to go where your target audiences hang out online. Look into their world and see if you can understand their pain points, what they are spending their money on, what their biggest complaints about a particular product are, and whether or not it’s an industry that you’re interested in joining.
Here are a few places to scope out the demand online:
Compare Search Volume on Google Trends
To get yourself on the right path, begin with Google Trends. Google is the largest search engine tool on the internet with 500 million active users per month. Needless to say, the data that it shares on current search trends is pretty powerful stuff.
You can see what is trending both globally and regionally, so you can find a product that is popular in your desired region easily. You can filter topics and search for trends in Business, Health, and Sci/Tech.
In Google Trends, you’re also able to see Top Stories, which shows the stories on the internet that are getting the most clicks for a particular topic. The ability to see into what your potential market is currently engaging with is an invaluable tool that will help guide the success of your online business.
Listen to Customers on Community Forums
Reddit and Quora will give you the ability to be the proverbial fly on the wall as your potential customer base openly chats about the niche market you’re researching. You will be able to listen in on conversations that are happening in real time about whatever products or niche markets you’re considering.
Both of these community forums also allow you to see their most popular content and trending topics so that you can quickly see what people are talking about the most.
The best part?
If you have any questions or would like an active brainstorming session with people familiar with a specific product, you can always post your own discussions.
Explore Popular Communities on Social Media
Each social media platform, from Facebook to Snapchat, offers valuable insight into any market segment. You can easily learn what is trending simply by spending a few hours on social media.
For Instagram and Twitter, you can quickly find trending products by searching through hashtags. Facebook will have groups and fan pages on any given topic, giving you an insider’s look into what a loyal customer based behaves like.
It is also helpful to learn which Facebook communities are strongest so that you know that your future Facebook Ads will not fall on deaf ears. After all, these groups are your potential customers.
See What Other Entrepreneurs Are Saying on Trend Hunter
Trend Hunter is currently the largest online trend community. It is made up of 137,000 members and over 3 million fans. It was designed as a place for aspiring entrepreneurs to share ideas and draw inspiration from. It will not only give you a few niche ideas, but also teach you which questions to ask as you start your ecommerce business.
Look at Trend Reports on TrendWatching
If you’re more interested in reading industry reports written by professionals who analyze consumer trends and insights, then spend some time on TrendWatching.
Discover new eCommerce niches by following industry reports and consumer trends
TrendWatching is an independent firm that scours the globe for trending products, market shifts, and consumer trends. They have offices all around the world in London, São Paulo, New York, Sydney, Lagos, and Singapore, each reporting on trends in their respective regions.
It’s an excellent source of knowledge that has already been sifted through and organized into clear data, saving you time and effort.
Can You Keep Up With Your Competitors?
Once you’ve gotten a list of niche ideas that are based on current trends, you need to check in on your competitors. Even if you find a profitable niche product that you swear could turn a profit, all of your marketing efforts will be useless if you’re competing with giant brands and companies.
To get an idea of whether or not your Shopify store stands a chance, take a look at your competitor’s current marketing strategy. Two significant channels to examine are organic search and Facebook paid advertising.
SEO Profile: Are People Searching for (and Finding) Your Competitors?
One of the biggest sources of free organic traffic comes from search engines. If you optimize your online shop right away, then you can capture your target audience early on. Any good niche marketing strategy will begin with this process, called Search Engine Optimization (SEO), as soon as their ecommerce websites are online.
The key to SEO is to not only understand search trends but to also understand your competition.
If your competition has a robust SEO profile with thousands of backlinks and top 10 rankings for hundreds of keywords--two very important KPIs in SEO--then you will have to match their profile in order to capture some of their traffic.
Strong ecommerce sites with those characteristics likely took years of work from talented professional SEO’s. While you are certainly capable of quite a bit, it is unlikely that you are capable of replicating their profiles within the foreseeable future.
And as long as you’re selling the same niche product on your site as they are on theirs, you will always be buried underneath their digital presence.
Luckily, you can avoid that by choosing a niche market without any major companies hogging up all of the marketing space.
To do that, you need to first take a peek at your competitor’s backlinks. Backlinks are an important factor of SEO and will ultimately be a part of your niche marketing strategy, as well. For now, however, all you need to do is find a competitor with a number of backlinks that you can reasonably compete with.
You can see your competitor’s backlinks, which are just links pointing to it from other websites, on Open Site Explorer. If you find that several competitors in the niche have upwards of one thousand inbound links or more, then it would be best to choose a different niche.
Any niche market worth entering will have a few companies with several hundred backlinks. Anything more than that and it’s not worth entering as a new ecommerce site.
Facebook Ads: Are Your Niche Market Audience being advertised to?
Just like you want to know how many backlinks your competitor has, you also want to know what kinds of Facebook Ads they’re currently circulating.
If you look at the Facebook Ads by popular brands and companies in your niche market, then you’ll have an idea of what kinds of ads and ad budget you will need in order to compete. You can do this by checking the published Facebook Ads of any Facebook Page.
Finding eCommerce niches doesn't have to be an uphill climb if you snoop their ads
You can see what kinds of advertisements your competitor is making, which products are being pushed, and the copy used in each ad.
While you cannot yet see the target audience your competitor uses in their niche marketing efforts, you will at least see exactly what they are presenting to their potential customers.
By knowing what your competition is up to, you can determine whether or not you're prepared to offer something of similar quality and volume.
If not, then you may need to choose a different niche.
Does Your Product Solve a Problem?
Many small businesses fail not because they produced bad products but because they produced products that nobody needed.
As beautiful, quirky, supported, or innovative as your niche idea may be, if it doesn't help potential customers solve a problem, then it will be hard to sell.
Mass marketing experts and niche marketers alike know that your entire marketing campaign will be designed around solving people's problems, so make sure that your product allows for that.
QuadLock does an excellent job of solving problems for people on the go. If you look at their Shopify store, you’ll notice that they really sell only one thing: mounting accessories for smartphones.
A tight lock on what their customers want: QuadLock
They don’t try to sell their items as necessarily the best or the most innovative. Instead, they focus on highlighting all the different ways their mounts can make your life easier.
They solve a problem that active people likely have and they make that incredibly clear throughout the website.
TomboyX takes the problem-solving tactic even further by selling boxer style underwear for women in blue collar jobs.
Most Kickstarter products are pants, but TomboyX really thought outside the boxers
In 2013, they launched a Kickstarter campaign and raised over $76,000 with fewer than 700 backers. Women in blue-collar profession fell in love with their practical, comfortable briefs and boxer shorts for women. This signaled to the founder of TomboyX that her design solved a major problem and that the people were receptive to her niche product.
While you do not need to launch a crowdfunding campaign to determine if your product solves a problem, TomboyX proves that solving a unique problem can turn a major profit.
What Products Are People Passionate About?
So far, this entire article has been about how to find your potential customers and get your Shopify store in front of them.
Every strategy described above is to help you build organic traffic to your online shop and get people to spend money on your product in your shop.
Wouldn't it be nice, then, if you could keep those people in your shop for longer? Or have them return several times throughout the year? The less effort you need to put in to make a sell, the better.
It’s all about the ROI, remember?
This is where your niche marketing plan must include a hobby or a sport that people are absolutely wild about.
Arts and crafts generally lend well to this as scrapbookers, stampers, and DIY warriors will return over and over again as new art projects trickle out on the forums and social media channels, like Pinterest.
More examples of niche marketing opportunities include sports teams. Sports fans are often fans for life and compelled to spend money on their team at least once a year when the new season rolls around.
Hunting, running, yoga, cooking, knitting, and photography are all excellent industries with niche products and passionate consumers.
Find a niche market that people will need to buy again and again so that your Shopify store has a steady flow of traffic every month.
Barbell Apparel taps into the passion that fuels gym goers by selling apparel that is designed to fit muscular bodies.
The exercise and fitness community is massive and the fitness industry is one of the most lucrative in the United States. Their customers will replenish themselves year after year as fitness continues to grow as an industry.
Barbell Apparel tapping the strength of the #fitness community. You bet they lift (sales).
Rather than competing with the likes of Nike or Lululemon, though, Barbell focuses on a very specific need within the industry, thus eliminating major competition. They have successfully created a niche product that passionate consumers will buy for years to come.
Niche communities can also be aimed at solving a need rather than a hobby. Riff Raff & Co, which sell sleep toys for babies, found incredible success with a referral program that thrived in tightly-knit parent communities - spreading through Word of Mum, if you will. There will always be new parents whose babies need sleep toys, and some parents will have new children, and Riff Raff's referral program will ensure fresh sales each time.
Opening your first Shopify business is an exciting venture. It will take a lot of time, effort, and money, so be sure that you’re not wasting any of that on an impossibly difficult market. Instead, look into which niches are trending and which niche markets you have a fair shot at being successful in. Once you do that, you’re ready to start selling online.
What are some ways that you’ve looked into niche markets? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!
Now that you've set up your store, you'll want to drive traffic, write product descriptions that sell and grow your store numbers. Check out the Ultimate Shopify Marketing Resource for guides, success stories and case studies.