If you’ve decided that ecommerce is the perfect kind of business for you, then you’ve already started your exciting journey into sleepless nights of thinking and searching for the niche that is already there and waiting for you.
Want a piece of good advice from ecommerce developers with 15+ years of experience on where you can find a good idea for your online marketplace? Here you go.
Everywhere! That is something everybody keeps talking and writing about and that is not the kind of advice you were looking for but that is true. The best thing we can assist you with is to sort out what is surrounding you.
Literally. Have a look around. You have lots of things around you. Furniture, books, devices, clothes, windows, plants, doors. And, guess what, all these things consist of even more other things! Wood, fixture, glue, paper, ink, plastic, glass, cloth, soil, wires, boards, fittings. Let’s go further, all these things were once produced, sold and delivered by someone. Moreover, they were produced, sold and delivered with the help of other things and people. To have everything that is surrounding you the moment you are reading, you paid money. And there are millions of people like you having everything you have and paying for it. Why not become one of the chain links and have your cut? Sell door knobs of all possible kinds or soil from different countries to grow exotic plants at home.
Just don’t try to sell everything at once. Lock on one thing from around you that you like the most. If you have it, you like it. If you like it, you have a positive experience which you can convert into value and share it with people, helping them to find the best offer on the net.
Are you sitting on the President chair? Gether luxury chair producers in one place and you will definitely make the world happier.
Ask your friends
People is the best source of fresh business ideas. Why? Because they always want something. Better service, better products, better functionality. And most of them don’t want to dedicate much time to search for this perfect product. They are ready to overpay someone who will bring them one red “Buy-Best-Product” button on their fingertips and deliver this product tomorrow. You only need to make this search for them and arrange fast delivery.
Because you can’t ask all the people for what they want, your friends are the best source of information. They have different personalities, they have different jobs, they have different hobbies and they have their specific needs. Some have children, some are vegetarians, some sing, some play football. One thing unites them—they pay money for the things or services. Make your friends happy and you’ll find out that there are lots of people out there who are just like them.
Get smart! Big marketplaces sell just about everything. But that does not have to mean that it’s useless to compete with them. Browsing products listed on an existing marketplace will give you an idea what people actually buy. Best selling products and services are always on the top. And they can have variations which are not on the surface and are not focused on.
Help your customers look on familiar things from the other side.
One way to do it is going small. Dedicate your marketplace to only one type of product, like pants. Or smaller—men’s pants. Or even smaller—boys’ pants. Want more? Under-five-year-old-boys’ pants! Customers prefer trusted big stores but they will definitely keep an eye on your dedicated marketplace. Because they will take you as an expert. This is a predictable human behavior—to buy car tires, you don’t go to the groceries store, you go to the tire shop.
Or instead of going small, you can go big. Why sell real estate only in one city or country when you can go global and unite sellers from other countries. Include land sales. Invite local agencies to support deals, help with visa, help to migrate and get citizenship. Dare something no one dared. Selling tremendous things on your marketplace takes the same amount of effort as selling tiny things. It is still the same platform.
The size is not the only feature for product breakdown. Another one is colour. Simple as that. How much easier it will be for a buyer to search products by colour? No one tried to launch a marketplace selling only red things or black, or blue, or white. If you want to buy a red dress to go to your friend’s wedding, where would you search for it? On Amazon or in All-Red Marketplace? I would visit both, which is already 50% chance to get a customer.
The material that the product was made of can also become the value that will bring your customers seeking for it. Another thing you should definitely consider—products or services restricted or declined to sell on existing marketplaces. Give it a try, who knows…
People can be differentiated in many ways. Age, sex, interests, location, religion, language, devices they use, cars they drive, habits, hair color, job. Some groups of your potential customers can be united by one feeling like love or hatred or sympathy to something.
You don’t even have to offer chosen customers something unique. Just make your approach correctly, share their value. The most attractive thing in this way of searching for the perfect online marketplace idea is that people who share the same values tend to stick together. They visit dedicated resources and events, they establish association and organisations. In most cases they are easy to reach.
For example, you can build a marketplace of furniture for IT developers, or a multi-vendor service store for disabled people. Or here is a really fresh and daring ecommerce startup idea! An online learning marketplace for deaf people. Like Udemy, but with subtitles or sign language interpretation. I know they are working on it, but this has been and stays a long term issue. And hundred of million people keeps waiting for it.
Another great thing about working with a certain audience is that they don’t only buy, they can also become your vendors and sell products or services on your marketplace. Referring to an association of dedicated people you get many vendors at once which is 50% of success. Gather all dental clinics across the country to help customers find the closest one and make an online reservation. Federal Dental Association can assist you with reaching all the clinics to make an offer to join your online marketplace and to become a vendor. Or consider sculptors. They also have their own associations across the world. They definitely have something to offer!
Follow big fish
Growing a shark is always complicated but you can become a remora! All products sold on marketplaces are made of something. All vendors on Etsy before selling something produce it and before that they buy the materials. Do you know where? You can become a supplier for Etsy vendors and provide them with everything they need—rocks, wood, cloth, thread, glass, sand. Keeping in mind that home-made producers like rare or unique materials, your marketplace of rare materials can rapidly grow global. Rocks from different countries, shells from different oceans, rare wood with unique characteristics or gems you can’t find anywhere else but in one certain place in the world. How will people find those things if you don’t help them? But get ready that reaching vendors will definitely keep you at home writing emails for weeks.
Another example is TheKnot—the most popular wedding resource on the net. It has thousands of vendors providing products and services for weddings. Seems like TheKnot covered the whole “wedding” niche, but wait, have a closer look at vendors. Do they need materials to create what they sell? Do they have all services they need? Do those wedding bands need to buy all the instruments and equipment or would they prefer renting something on your marketplace instead ? Or would they hire a vocalist or a guitar player for one night for a big wedding party they were invited to? Are you there to help them with that?
Cover your local area
To find a good idea for you future online marketplace, you don’t have to look over the horizon. Go out into the street and look around! How many stores can you see? What kind of people are living or visiting your area. Are there lots of tourists around? Do they need cameras or bicycles to rent?
Or think about small, even tiny family shops around your city. For a small fee they can find new customers on your marketplace and extend their business over the whole city. Help people find a close-to-them barbershop and make a reservation.
It is so much easier to reach the owners of local business than some unknown people from the other side of the globe. You can reach them by foot. Just pop in and have a nice conversation with the owners—creating your local community of sellers and buyers is always a great experience and lots of new connections (Read: opportunities).
The best thing about local marketplaces is scalability! Finished with one city—move to the next.
Check the idea
Ok, let’s say you found a few remarkable ideas for your future marketplace. Now it’s time to check if there is anything of the same kind on the net. Make a list of keywords or phrases that you would search looking for the product or service you are going to sell on your marketplace. Check them on Google Keyword Planner. Are there enough searches of you product? Use filters to get more precise results. If there are several thousand searches related to your offer, go to the browser and try the same keywords to see what people actually find. Go through the list, visit websites, read feedback. If you feel like you can beat this top 10 search result—go for it! If there is already an old massive source dedicated to your offer, you better come back to idea researching. Or you can still fight for your place under the sun. Big players mean big audience. Do something differently or better and you will have your cut of the market.
Looking for a good idea for an online marketplace is tough and exhausting. You can find it right under your feet or you can spend years of everyday digging. But if you find it, act fast. There are thousands of people like you stepping on your heels.
And remember: the basis of every successful marketplace is a strong will to solve someone’s problem and make profit from it. Money is very important as far as this is a serious business, but to make your business successful, help should always be on the first place.
So go and help someone!