Amazon might be the world’s largest general store—with 310 million active customers!—but that doesn’t mean your online marketplace can’t compete.
Many online marketplace owners like yourself have something Amazon can’t compete with: in-depth knowledge of and specialized products or services in a specific segment of the market. That niche positioning allows you to do some unique things as a business owner—all of which add value for customers and help solidify your brand as an authority. In fact, “going niche” is an online marketplace trend for both B2C and B2B businesses.
Following are three things that niche online marketplaces bring to the table that Amazon (and other big-box retailers) just can’t.
3 Ways Niche Online Marketplaces Beat Amazon
1. Niche products distinguish your business.
Amazon is like the Google of shopping. Whatever shoppers type into that search bar—tennis rackets, toy trains, home decor, camping equipment—is likely to yield hundreds, maybe thousands, of search results. They may not all be exactly what the shopper needs, but they’re all in the general neighborhood. And for a lot of people, that’s fine. They didn’t need a specific tennis racket or high-end camping equipment (not now, anyway). Or maybe they’re just starting their product search and are looking for ideas. Amazon is a great way to scope out options in unfamiliar territory.
But that model doesn’t work for a large percentage of people who are experienced buyers in search of specific products. Niche online marketplaces address the needs of those customers by offering a more complete set of specialized products that may include hard-to-find items in less demand. And sometimes the specialization element adds additional value, as in the case of jewelry retailer True Facet. Not only does True Facet sell a broad range of jewelry from multiple vendors, it also verifies the value of each item—something customers worry about but usually have no way of checking. By bringing multiple niche sellers together under one umbrella, your niche online marketplace has more sophisticated product offerings and greater expertise about them than Amazon ever could, giving you a competitive advantage.
2. Niche messaging equals targeted marketing.
The other day I got an email from Amazon promoting sale items—everything from a set of copper cookware to USB cables to workout equipment (are they trying to tell me something?). Because Amazon offers thousands of products, it’s hard for them to target specific customers with specific deals. And even Amazon Prime Days are loaded with hundreds of deals—but how many of those deals are on products you actually want? The occasional “Prime Day” isn’t a bad way to promote loyalty, but it’s also not the best way to attract customer interest.
Niche online marketplaces, on the other hand, have an advantage when it comes to messaging: Your recipients have a demonstrated interest in your specific product, which not only gives your messages more significance, it also gives you an opportunity to conduct timely or seasonal marketing campaigns. For example, your online soccer marketplace can send messages in early summer urging shoppers to get ready for the start of soccer season—“Order customized uniforms now—it’s not too late!” Customers who have bought from you before will be grateful for the reminder and more likely to place an order with you again.
3. Niche service stands out.
We’re not knocking Amazon’s customer service by any means, but it is better at taking care of customers who are purchasing from Amazon.com rather than a third-party seller. If you’re buying from someone else, it’s up to the individual sellers underneath Amazon’s umbrella to fulfill and ship the order and handle problems. Amazon is simply facilitating a website where products can be sold—a business model that sometimes adds friction to the buying process, and may even discourage customers from buying third-party vendor products.
A shopper purchasing from your niche online marketplace deals with the same company—your company—from pre-sale through delivery of goods or services. And if problems arise, there’s no question about who’s handling things (that’s you). You know your products inside and out, and your service level reflects that expertise. If those soccer cleats aren’t perfect, your shoppers could send them back to be stretched out or to get a different cleat type. You as the online marketplace owner can manage the resolution process, whatever it may be. This type of hands-on service is in short supply, so by offering it you’re yet another step ahead of Amazon.
Need an online marketplace platform for your niche business?
Working with vendors, providing great service, and crafting effective messaging takes time. Handling the details of vendor management shouldn’t be an added burden on your already busy schedule. BlueSnap’s online marketplace platform lets you spend less time managing vendors and more time with customers.
Our global platform lets you connect vendors and customers anywhere around the world. We’ll provide you with the resources to manage vendors on your terms, including a customizable solution that lets you adjust commission splits on the fly.
Your niche marketplace can thrive with the right tools and the right tactics. Interested in finding out more about how our online marketplace platform can help? Get in touch!