Before you start selling online, you need to take a lot of things into consideration, especially if you’re new to this business. There is a process to everything, a lot of steps, same goes for e-commerce business. There are a lot of things to understand, such as what kind of interest do you want to cover or what should be your initial investment or your consumer behavior and their preferences.
There are basically two of stores you can pursue; one is a niche store or a general store.
General store: They sell products from several niches. They don’t have any restrictions or limitations to sell only one or two types of product. They can sell whatever they want. One example of general store would be “Amazon” – they sell a completely wide vast range of products, starting from kitchen stuff to beauty products to sports kit.
Niche Store: Sells products from one specific niche. For example, the niche could be nursing or even gaming. In that case, the product they sell would be closely relevant to nursing or gaming. All the activities of the store would be based on that specific niche.
Pros and Cons of Each Store
General Store – Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the general store.
- Flexibility with product testing (If you’re new to the business and you’re quite not sure which product is going to sell or which product is really popular in the market or which ones you can succeed with, well it doesn’t matter because you can create a completely new product collection and add a lot of product in that particular collection regardless if your initial product fails to do well in the market)
- Easier to make sales initially (People generally when visiting general store don’t buy products because of the name the products are branded with, they want to buy it because of its decent quality or well-priced. For example, pens or pencil.
- Branding not much important (Just as the previous point mentioned, people aren’t really buying or visiting general store for the name, they expect decent product in a good price. Moreover, branding takes a lot time, money and credibility.
- Organic cross selling will be less (Because there are wide varieties of products available in general store, some people will only be interested in one type of product, thus decreasing the organic cross selling)
- Email marketing is less effective ( Wide variety of products bring wide variety of customers; for example if a niche store gets 100 emails, they’ll be of the same kind, however for general store it’ll be divided into several categories thus making it difficult to manage and less effective)
- Social media pages are difficult to build (Similar to email marketing, every post you give from your social media page will only attract specific people interested in that niche. For example, if your Facebook page has 30 likes or 30 people following it and you give a post for jewelry, if those 30 likes are divided between 3 different product collection, only 10 of those people will be interested in jewelry collection)
Niche store - Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the niche store
- Organic cross selling is higher (If you have a jewelry store and if someone visits your niche site then the person will pretty much be interested in all your products, since all the products will be of the same niche. In this case, the chances of selling the products will be higher)
- Email/SM pages quicker to build ( Every email or every post that you give from your SM pages will reach out to the people who are interested in your niche, it won’t get split between various niches
- Profitable in the long run (As niche stores target only a specific group of people that are already interested in the niche. That’s why these stores get more orders. This also increases the number of recurring orders the store gets. Thus, it gains new customer as well as keep their old customers satisfied)
- Unstable Growth Pattern (No one is sure which type of niches will work in the market. Most of the time, niches that the users select have a low competition. So, if a new store goes niche there are high chances of them failing in comparison with a general niche store)
- Failing leads to building a new store (This is extremely crucial for the beginners out there, mostly because they are not sure what products are going to do well in the market. It takes a lot of time to build a niche store so if it doesn’t work out you can’t really sell other products in your niche store. You can’t test products when you’re working with a niche store, it doesn’t give you that much flexibility so it’s best to choose carefully)
- Products are restricted (Since it’s a niche store, you can’t just sell other products in a different niche store. For example, if you have beauty products as niche, you can’t just start selling fridges here if beauty products don’t pay off much, you have to build a new store for your fridge. So it kind of limits you to what kind of products you can sell.
- Branding is critical (Building a brand is very time consuming and takes a lot of money. However if you can build a brand correctly, a powerful brand that people loves, it’s going to pay off and people will come back again to buy products from your store. Trying to build a brand can go both ways, it takes a lot of time and money to build it but once it is done, the store is going to be so much profitable.
The Competitive Market
There are a lot of brands that are launching products and failing, mostly because they do not have enough patience or not listening to their customers. Give preference to what you find more interest in and make it stand out amongst other brands. For a beginner, it’s best to start with a general store then experiment, test and then switch to niche store when you have completely grasped how the market works.
When you’re jumping from niche to general to brand or vice versa, you might want to have products are sustainable but also have some sort of value in terms of exit strategy. Always pick a product that fits with you and the market equally. If you have passion in your business, it’s going to translate into your products and customer experience and also if you want partnerships or future investments.