Niche Marketplaces: How to Create and Compete with eCommerce Giants

Niche Marketplaces

Marketplaces have taken the top position in eCommerce. The format turned out to be more viable than the model of online stores. Niche marketplaces are especially popular today. Let’s talk about what is a niche marketplace, how to create one and compete with huge online platforms.

What are niche marketplaces?

The marketplace in general is a large digital platform where every buyer can find anything. While a niche platform limits us to one or just a few categories of goods.

Simply put, all products presented in the store will belong to the specific industry, for example, supplies for the printing business, or accessories for women.

With niche websites, everything is much easier. The buyer knows exactly why he goes to this platform and what he needs. In a big marketplace with a hundred categories, attention is scattered, and there is a high probability that a customer will leave without any purchase.

Niche marketplaces are developing quite quickly. They easily manage to meet the buyer’s needs by providing fast and high-quality sales.

The most successful industry marketplaces include Etsy, Airbnb.

Benefits of niche marketplaces

What distinguishes niche platforms from global ones and what are their advantages?

  1. Expertise in the industry. The model of the store speaks for itself. A specialized marketplace focuses on only one direction. As a result, all employees have expertise in this area and can easily guide the buyer and help with the choice.
  2. Improved service. Niche marketplaces better understand what their target audience needs. Big stores have one big problem — they try to please everyone at once. Personalization in the service is lost, and customer satisfaction decreases. It is the opposite of small marketplaces. The owners implement custom IT solutions, and develop support and logistics within the project, taking into account the needs of their audience.
  3. High customer loyalty. Buyers come to niche e-shops with a clear understanding of their pains and needs. They know exactly what they want and that a particular store will solve the problem. It is not surprising that the next time the buyer will also make a purchase here.
  4. Quality is above all. In specialized stores, the turnover of goods is much less. But in this case, it works as an advantage, allowing you to meet the needs of customers and provide a high-quality service.

What is happening in the market of niche marketplaces?

During the pandemic, most buyers switched to online shopping. This means that there are more opportunities for the emergence of new marketplaces.

eCommerce experts are predicting the rapid growth of niche online platforms within a few years.

Today, at the top of the list of marketplaces platforms you can find such names as Amazon, and AliExpress. It is quite difficult to compete with such players. For the project to survive, a lot of capital will be required.

That is why more and more small platforms with a focus on certain areas appear on the market. Moving into niches is more profitable: no need to compete with the “giants”, it is enough to focus on one segment.

Specialized marketplaces can form more detailed offers and work with a narrow audience, which is much easier to attract.

Nevertheless, the market is full of options, which means that the buyer can go to a competitor at any time for some reasons: ease of payment, better logistics service, and wider assortment.

How to compete with industry giants and fight cart abandonment?

  • Expand the range of products. In this case, you do not need to increase the list of products, but expand the number of options within a specific category. This will allow the buyer to choose his segment in search of a product: find a suitable price, manufacturer, and additional details. For instance, on the marketplace of household appliances, you can offer 10 options of vacuum cleaners instead of 5. And make sure all of them have different prices, functionality sets, etc. That is, the user will be able to find exactly the one that will meet all his needs.
  • Improve business processes and automate them. Optimize marketplace processes to minimize the use of human resources. Key stages where users expect the platform to work quickly: checkout, payment method, and delivery. Keep these processes simple, with few steps to complete.
  • Sell the product along with the service. Let’s say you sell air conditioners. Instead of offering customers just equipment, offer a service in a package — installation of an air conditioner. This way, a customer gets more value.

How to launch a niche marketplace in 2023?

How to start a niche marketplace development? The launch of an industry platform can be divided into several key steps.

Step 1. Market analysis and niche selection

As with any business venture, market analysis is essential to explore opportunities and threats. During the research, it is important to understand not only the current situation in the market but also the level of competition and the profile of a potential customer in the selected segment.

Competitor analysis will help you find out what marketing tools to use and how to meet customer needs. To learn more about the pains of buyers, use questionnaires and engage with audiences in relevant communities.

The more information you gather at this stage, the easier it will be for you to plan your next steps.

Step 2. Determining the type of marketplace and monetization

The next step is to determine the platform type. There are three main interaction models:

  • B2C — the most common format where sales take place between a store and an individual consumer;
  • B2B — marketplaces that provide goods for business and unite entrepreneurs;
  • C2C — here both parties are individuals who carry out the transaction on equal terms.

Select the monetization model:

  • payment for each transaction; 
  • subscriptions — a monthly/yearly fee for placing a certain number of products on the marketplace;
  • paid ads (more commonly used on C2C platforms).

You can find other ways to monetize, including placing ads on your platform.

Step 3. Website infrastructure and basic functionality for interacting with sellers and buyers

When developing a niche marketplace, an important task will be to attract sellers. What to consider? 

Work out the terms of cooperation and make a competent commercial offer. That is why at the previous stages it is necessary to think over the format and monetization model to reach the sellers with a ready-made structure and a complete offer.

Next, consider the basic functionality of the platform. This includes a personal account, the ability to upload multiple goods at once, integration with payment and delivery services, dashboards for statistics and analytics.

The second user of the platform is a buyer, who must also have convenient access to all the functionality of the site. First of all, to the search engine. The product he is searching for should be given out by relevance (tags, titles, categories).

Clear navigation is a must-have for any marketplace. The easier it is for the user to navigate and find the right products on the site, the more he will stay there and place an order. Pay attention to the ordering process. A convenient shopping cart, the ability to add products to “favorites”, and an order tracking system — all are necessary to improve the user experience.

No need to immediately try to create the perfect site structure. Start with a basic set of features and test them out.

Step 4. MVP development

Speaking of testing, we are approaching the development of MVP (Minimum Viable Product). Creating an MVP is a quick way to test an idea and collect real feedback from users. The first version can be built on ready-made solutions, for example, CS-Cart. You will be able to easily set out-of-the-box functionality without the need to modify it a lot. A working marketplace can be developed within two months.

MVP allows you to experiment and test ideas without much investment. The feedback you receive from users will help you plan improvements and create a product that meets the requirements and needs of your target audience.

Step 5. Promotion and expansion of the audience

You should start attracting sellers even before the launch of the first product version. But promoting to the actual buyers is better when you already have a product to present. Use different communication channels: targeted advertising, content marketing, and creating landing pages.

Since this is a niche marketplace, the use of thematic communities in social networks will be an effective tool. In addition to providing products, specialized marketplaces need to show their expertise in the chosen field. Start blogging and sharing useful information, and don’t forget about competent support.

Simtech Development cases on niche marketplaces

Our company often encounters requests from niche marketplaces. Here are some works from our portfolio.

Urbankissed is a fashion marketplace with over 100 sustainable brands from around the world. Founded by Swiss millennial Sophie Brunner in 2017 as a carefully crafted and conscious online shopping and selling point.

Urbankissed Niche Marketplace

The main request of the owner was as follows: to create an efficient eCommerce platform based on Multi-Vendor software with all relevant features: availability of vendor accounts and user-friendly admin panels, transparent software license cost without any hidden fees, convenient and intuitive interface, the ability to expand functionality with smoothly added plugins. The CS-Cart solution fully met these requirements.

We added several add-ons, and the platform was transferred to Simtech Cloud Hosting, which, according to the owner, allowed the team to focus on the main tasks and improve the server security level.

Kayamo is a marketplace for unique custom-made jewelry and handicrafts from Germany.

Kayamo Niche Marketplace

The founder was looking for technical assistance. We moved the platform to our cloud hosting, improved the interface, optimized the design, and helped with SEO.

Our specialists installed and customized the Airy mobile theme to improve the look of the site to bring more individuality. All additional elements were brought to a single style.

The site had problems working with PayPal and Stripe due to some restrictions. Therefore, we have developed a new add-on to integrate Multi-Vendor with the payment gateway. That allowed administrators to select a new payment method in the CS-Cart admin panel and process the order. Customers were able to choose a new payment method when placing an order.

Result: the site loads better, customers find the site more easily, navigation inside has become more convenient and easier, and rankings in search results have improved.

Find more cases here.

Conclusion

Niche marketplaces are only gaining popularity. This is a new field for study, but the potential is obvious. Focus on a specific segment of the audience, expertise in their niche, and uniqueness make them much more attractive to the user.

Today, to launch your industry marketplace, you can turn to ready-made solutions and present the first version of the platform after a few months. Simtech Development is ready to discuss your case and help you launch your online business.

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