Yes, you have to choose a niche :) The anything and everything approach simply doesn’t work (Amazon has that covered). Choosing a niche for your business will make your product more marketable, increase conversions, and ultimately lead to a more profitable, sustainable business. Here’s some things to keep in mind when selecting the perfect niche.
Be as specific as possible without eliminating market reach
In the context of a monthly subscription service (my favorite type of business model) the more specific the niche the better. Choose a niche that you can do better than anyone else, but be sure it’s still attractive to a wide net of potential customers. The goal is to be specialized without reducing your potential market reach. For example, if you want to ship people a monthly delivery of gourmet food, try pairing it down to something more specific, like being only 100% organic. Adding the ‘organic only’ standard likely won’t turn off potential customers; rather, it helps define your brand and gives you a better shot at competing with the dozens of already established gourmet food memberships.
You’re not just choosing a niche, you’re choosing your customers!
This is especially important for online only businesses (or monthly subscription boxes). Choose a niche where the potential audience will make great customers. Positive, happy, active online and in social networks. This worked particularity well for my Yoga Subscription Box as they’re all generally pretty nice and gracious people who especially love Instagram and Pinterest. I tested out a cat subscription box earlier this year and the customers we started receiving were a little ‘out there’ and had oddly specific needs for each of their cats. We discontinued this service in the first month because we concluded we would never be able to fully please these customers.
Don’t just look for categories, look for lifestyles
Find categories that people use to identify themselves with. Yoga or Veganism is a great example. Yoga isn’t just a form of fitness, it’s an entire way of life for many who practice it. In both of these categories you’ll hear people using phrases like “I am a yogi” or “I am a vegan”. The more someone defines themselves by a certain community, lifestyle or practice the more receptive they’ll be to products or services that acknowledge their way of life.
Choose something you’re passionate about
Very important! Don’t choose a niche because it seems like good opportunity. Choose one that you’re very knowledgeable and passionate about. Your authenticity or lack thereof will show through. Authenticity is hard to fake and if customers can’t feel passion oozing off of your business then you might run into some problems holding on those customers.
There you have it! I’m a strong believer that future of eCommerce is going towards smaller, micro-niche products/services that do a couple things really, really well. This is great news for people that want to turn something they love doing into a business that provides an extremely high quality product or service.