Whether you're looking to make some
extra pocket money, or have aspirations of quitting the day job and
running your own business, there's never been a better time to start
is easier to use and more accessible than ever before, and online
shopping continues to grow at an incredible
And that's all great. But, when you
start thinking about taking the plunge yourself, the first question
you ask may well be the hardest. What are you actually going to
We thought we'd
write an article to help you Ecommerce rookies make this
Often, success for Ecommerce startups depends on whether you can find
a niche, an untapped market that's crying out for a certain product.
A broad product offering is great, but a broad target market puts you
at risk of being routed by the bigger, established brands who already
own those markets. Of course, you don't want your niche to be too
By finding a specific niche to market towards, you give yourself a
great chance of carving out a loyal and committed corner of the
market which can yield great rewards.
good place to start with identifying a suitable niche is with some
– this lets you find out what people are looking for online. You
can also use tools like Google
to gauge whether your niche is growing, shrinking or staying about
the same over time.
might find it useful to check out the
internet's top selling items
to get a flavour for the most popular things people are currently
However passionate you are about your product, you're looking to
create a profitable business venture here. That's why it's important
to really think carefully about whether you can make money – and
how much of it – before you go any further.
Some basic market research can help you establish whether your idea
is sustainable. Questions to ask include:
How much will it cost to source, sell and ship the product?
How much are your competitors currently selling similar (or
identical) products for?
Based on these numbers, will you be able to price your product
competitively and still make a healthy profit?
Who is your ideal target customer – what are they looking for in a
product, and can you deliver it at a price they can afford?
These numbers have to add up before you go ahead, or you're running
the risk of losing money.
In order to understand your own chances of success, you have to have
a good understanding of the marketplace in general and how your
competitors are performing.
Of course, there are risks associated with entering a saturated
marketplace, but it IS possible (if not always advisable.) After all,
you could perceive a thriving, competitive marketplace as validation
for a particular product or idea.
Can you bring
something different to the market?
The caveat to that is, if you do find yourself entering a crowded
marketplace and taking on established brands, it's vital to get a
handle on exactly what makes you different.
essentially have 3 choices – you can be better than the
competition, worse than the competition, or different
them. Your branding can go a long way towards differentiating
yourself. But there's other stuff to consider. Can you source your
products cheaper than competitors, and thus undercut their pricing?
Can you personalize products, or otherwise alter them to make them
unique? Can you put a new slant on an established product range?
What are you
Some might say it's misty-eyed sentimentalism, but we think it's
true: you generally have a greater chance of success if you're
passionate about what you're doing.
If you're able to sell a product you're already interested in and
passionate about, it's a great starting point. It means you can tick
a few vital boxes right away: you'll generally have reasonable
product knowledge, as well as a basic understanding of how to
position your brand and address your audience.
Let's say, for example, you're a sports nut, and you're always
wearing the latest sports gear. Selling sports equipment would be a
logical place to start – you understand the market, you know what
your customers want and expect, and you probably have an idea of how
you can position your brand for maximum impact. The next step might
be to identify a particular specialist 'niche' within this market
that you can really own.
Passion is a powerful sales tool. By its very nature, it's authentic,
which almost always comes across to your customers and helps in your
Of course, you can also achieve success by making an ice-cold,
withdrawn business decision, and selling something you don't really
know anything about – you just need to plug the gaps by ensuring
you thoroughly research your product, and diligently define how you
can add value to your market.
When you're getting started, it can seem intimidating to choose one
particular product or market to target. That's understandable. You'll
give yourself the best chance of success, however, by carrying out
plenty of research, making sure the numbers add up, and getting
really specific about who your competitors are, and how you're going
to be different.
good news is that the first thing you sell online doesn't need to be
thing you sell online. It's often a case of trial and error, and
reacting to the feedback and behaviors of your customers. Some of the
biggest brands on the planet started out selling
Use the points we've suggested above to make an initial, educated
decision, and then go with it – and see how you get on. Good luck!