Carving Out a Piece of the Pie


5 niche markets too small for online giants

Retail shopping has changed. Online markets are close to having the lion’s share of sales and brick-and-mortar stores have been forced to add online sales to compete with massive retailers like Wal-Mart, Amazon, Staples and others.

These huge retail businesses have created an interesting dichotomy in online sales. If you have a product that is popular enough for the online giants, smaller retailers will lose out on sales. Smaller retailers, whether online or not, are looking at niche items that are not popular enough to be picked up by Amazon or other businesses, but will have steady sales to create a positive cashflow.

Niche markets can be anything from specific sporting goods to unusual food items and anything in-between. The most important part of marketing niche products is finding customers to create a retail demand for what you are selling. The following niches and retailers are doing it right.

Sailing lines and rigging

The only large online retailer to carry the lines and hardware needed for sailing is West Marine and they made their reputation with it before the eCommerce became a thing. A combination of a small market and specialized products make it difficult for larger retailers like Amazon to carry anything but the most basic products.

Since the sailboat market is relatively soft, the demand for larger retailers to start carrying the products will likely never happen. This gives West Marine and several smaller competitors the chance to sell in a market not dominated by retail giants.

Firearm accessories

A combination of niche marketing and political pressure keeps large retailers from doing anything more than dabbling in firearm and firearm accessory sales. This allows smaller retailers to flourish in the market.

Firearms cannot be purchased online, but they can be ordered and delivered to a local gun store to be picked up. Accessories, on the other hand, are a popular online item.

Used Books

Amazon offers used books, but their primary marketing thrust is for new or Kindle books. This slack in the used book market have allowed companies like Thriftbooks to compete against the retail giant.

Thriftbooks created the website and recruited a network of used books stores to maximize their inventory. They currently have more than 7 million used books in their inventory.

Small and Ultralight Aircraft Parts

When it comes to parts and accessories for small airplanes and ultralights, AERO is the reliable source. With an inventory that includes everything from Champion aviation spark plug  to propellers, there is little you cannot find for your aviation needs.

Fortunately, aviation needs are very much a niche product and AERO has created a reputation in the industry for excellence which allows them to dominate the market.

E-cigarettes and accessories

Although there is some concern about the health aspects of using an electronic cigarette, or vaping, there is no confusion about how bad smoking cigarettes can be. While waiting for federal regulations, small businesses jumped into the market selling hardware and flavored e-liquid for the users.

Companies like My Freedom Smokes in Charlotte, North Carolina have seen a market that wasn’t being serviced by large retailers and created an online location to complement their retail store.

There is a buyer for every product that is made. Finding a market for your product can be the biggest challenge that a small business faces. As these companies show, though, you don’t have to compete against major retail chains or online stores to create a market for your product.

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