Should Retailers Develop Niches for E-Commerce?

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.

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avatar About Steve Pruitt

Steve Pruitt is founder and Senior Consultant of Blacks Retail Analysis and Blacks Consulting. With over 30 years of experience, Steve is one of the most respected merchandise analysts in the industry. His specialty is apparel merchandising and he has worked with clients in every sector of this category. Steve’s approach is highly customized; he tailors his analyses to the particular needs and market of each client. His work ties together the merchandising piece of the business with the client’s overall financial goals to increase sales and streamline operations. Steve is also a trusted general business consultant, known for his ability to help retailers plan growth and manage change.
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