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Niche v Generic

 Last week the subject of product selling raised its head. Following a long discussion it was agreed, in the SME sector, websites perform better when covering niche areas, when measured up against mass product sellers.

There are 2 main problems facing the generic seller:

  1. Competition is generally fierce
  2. Developing a strong website around multiple products will produce complex contextual issues

John Godfrey the owner of Just a Drop understood this from the very outset, he would have more chance of success being a seller of own label drinks, when compared to mass promotional products, he was right. To prove this Just a Drop have grown considerably, they now effectively supply European based end-users, distributors and agencies.

If you consider the subject of niche v generic it does raise some interesting points.

Logic would dictate if you have more products, there will be more sales. Surely an organisation holding 50,000 items will fare better than one selling 50? In most instances this is not the case.

I believe the main problem surrounds online visibility. Taking large inventories and setting up a website, one that offers individual uniqueness across the entire range, whilst providing a satisfying experience for the visitor, is a tough ask, probably one of the hardest out there. If you don’t have a detailed plan of action, progress will be tough, in fact there may not be any progress.

Next is the issue of how others perceive us. Are mass product sellers seen as car boot specialists, when compared to niche operators? It’s for this reason I’ve been producing micro-sites in segmented areas.

Of course Amazon and other large retailers manage to pull off the sale of mass products, but these organisations are fortunate to have strong websites, deep pockets and an army of copywriters.

In essence, more is not necessarily better than less, the answer lies in the quality of delivery (website), overall service, attractiveness of the products, validation and all round visibility.

When Matt Cutts, Head of Google’s Webspam Team was asked, “if you were setting up your own online business, how would you go about it”? His answer, “I would find 20 niche products and write about them constantly”. Note Matt did not say 2000 products.

If you are considering setting up an online business, my advice is to start small and only expand if necessary.


By Peter Arkwright 

Date Written: Sun, Feb 9th 2014