Female business owner shipping online order in art supply shop
Would it surprise you to learn that online sales for the USA in 2018 amounted to less than 15% of all retail in total? Well, ecommerce only represented 14.3% of total retail sales in 2018, according to Internet Retailer’s analysis. Consumers spent $517.36 billion online with U.S. merchants in 2018. Total USA retail sales, not including the sale of items not normally bought online like fuel, automobiles and food at restaurants, hit $3.628 trillion last year. Global retail sales are projected to be around $28 trillion U.S. dollars by 2020.
So, the good news is that we have a long way to go before retail as we know it is dead. It’s also comforting to know for entrepreneurs the world over, that there are quite a few more opportunities to be had in the online commerce space.
Essentially, the unlimited choice afforded by online stores means that niches that aren’t massively popular can still be successful. For example, online shoppers were posed a simple question: what percentage of the top 100,000 books on Amazon sell at least once a month? Most replied with an average estimate of 20%. They could not have been more wrong. Fully 99% of the top 100,000 books sell in some volume; there’s someone, somewhere who reads the random titles. Ecommerce entrepreneurs still have tremendous opportunities to target and leverage significant niches via a specific focus.
The best niche ecommerce stores have found nooks and crannies to fit in where they can attract super loyal customers to their store, without spending a ton on advertising. If you have a product that can be served to a niche, it may be worth it to push it. An ecommerce niche is a distinct segment within any given market and often an area that is overlooked by larger businesses. Examples of niches include handmade items, plant-based pet food, certain outdoor gear, eco-friendly products, natural beauty products, unique gadgets, or other trending products. By narrowing down how you look at a market, you will be able to find areas and sections that haven’t been completely tapped into. Also, examine how you might use technology to give you an advantage.
Technology will play a big role in the future of ecommerce. It will be possible to shift or adjust your product offering based on data where you can assimilate or predict the offering based on combining various data types to “predictively” sell the consumer. As an example, could you shift your ecommerce mobile offering based on the weather where the customer resides? It’s raining, optimize umbrella and rain boots dynamically. It’s sunny, better offer skin care tips and organic sunscreen. Voice will play a bigger role in the future of ecommerce whether that is AI-based chatbots or streamlined voice technology.
Here are major trends or opportunities you might be able to utilize to leverage possibilities in online retail ecommerce.
Direct to consumer. Direct to consumer means you are selling your product directly to your end customers without third-party retailers, wholesalers, or other middlemen. Think Dollar Shave Club.
Content driven. Content initially leads customers to your site, increases your brand loyalty, and shows that you really do know what you are talking about, then you sell your solution or product.
Niche upstart versus brand. You can purposely have a better mission or inclusiveness as Savage x Fenty showed Victoria Secrets in what became a debacle for VS.
Eco friendly and sustainable. See what is popular and entrenched for a key brand selling online, then simply make a similar quality product that is either eco-friendly or sustainable.
Social commerce. Social media is flexing its ecommerce muscles. Instagram has rolled out an in-app checkout feature making it possible for users to purchase products without leaving the app.
Mobile buying. If you optimize for the buyer who is buying spur of the moment, you have the chance of beating the big brands at their own game.
Asia middle class growing. This is the largest market coming online to the middle class with over 1.4 billion people in Asia. Understand their needs and you might find yourself building a big brand.
At only 10% of all retail sales, online ecommerce has a long way to go. There are hundreds of opportunities that can still be executed online. Find your niche or online strategy and experiment away.
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