Should Retailers Develop Niches for E-Commerce?

by Steve Pruitt

AsktheExpertsQ: I’m interested in expanding my business online, but it looks like most of the successful men’s e-tailers have a specific niche. Since I have a pretty traditional store, is it worth my time trying to expand online, or should I try to develop a niche in-store first?

A: While it is true that many online retailers serve a specific niche, I wouldn’t go as far as to modify your brick-and-mortar business just to expand online. First, do your homework on what kind of technology, staff, and investment is needed to run a successful online store. Then, create a business plan for your e-commerce business that includes a well thought out concept and appropriate marketing budget.

If you don’t have a specific niche in mind, imagine your target customers and create an environment that serves their needs in terms of style, convenience, and security.
Competing online is all about focusing on the customer. So, if you do go online, make sure that you are doing a great deal of data collection so you are able to pinpoint customers’ needs, and discover new opportunities for growth. Just as inventory planning is an important part of running a brick-and-mortar business, data collection and planning are essential for online.