Making the Decision – Niche vs. General Store
Venturing out on your entrepreneurial e-commerce quest is exciting and empowering – you can finally work for yourself, choose your hours, and watch your hard work grow into something incredible!
Heck, your bed can even become your new desk if you wanted it to! (Based on personal experience, I do not recommend this).
You get so wrapped up in all of the exciting opportunities your new endeavor will provide that once you sit down for the business plan, everything comes to a halt.
As with every business quest, you have reached your first fork in the road.
“What kind of store am I going to start and how do I even know there is a market for it?”
Just like everyone else, you have found yourself landed on this page because you are in the predicament of choosing between a niche and a general store.
As a business owner, you have done your duties of thorough research, but the results have yielded repetitive articles with the same pro’s and con’s list that get you nowhere.
Just in case this is the first article you have come across, I have broken down that universal list below for the sake of sparing your time.
- Easier to brand your business
- More precise ad targeting
- Gain a cult-like following
- Limitations on the products you can sell
- More time and money investments
- Easier to scale
- More product flexibility to test
- Adaptable to trends
- Learn as you earn
- Low virality
- Less brand loyalty
- Less passionate customers
Alright, moving on.
Why hasn’t there been a more straightforward solution?
You won’t like this answer and I’m writing it knowing there will be more than a few eye rolls, but:
You can and will find success through both routes. The only obstacle is your analysis paralysis.
Feeding this ever so common stagnation are myths you have been served during your routine research.
You can’t run a successful niche store because you are not passionate about the particular niche.
Starting a general store becomes too overwhelming because the product options are endless and you end up with a store full of random nonsense that will generate no sales.
Once you make the decision between general or niche, you can’t EVER change your business direction.
So let’s cut to the chase and debunk these myths by first tackling the truths.
Starting a general store will be easier to break into e-commerce with.
You can pivot that general store into a niche store with proper time and data allocation.
This article will walk you through starting off in the general market and selecting a product line that will seamlessly transition itself into a profitable niche store.
Starting off, you should only have a product line of no more than 5 items. Here’s why:
- Running ads can get expensive, so you want to be able to properly budget and allocate your money wisely.
- It becomes hard testing which products will actually scale because you won’t be able to properly determine which item is performing the best.
- Having a large product line becomes distracting in general. When you first enter into this industry you are going to be pummeled by loads of information, spare your time and energy on learning instead of getting lost in Ali Express’s sauce.
Call me crazy all you want, but just because you are starting a general store does not mean you need to fill it up with products to make your site appear trustworthy.
We have run plenty of stores with a product line of as little as 3 items that have brought in at least $300 daily revenue within the first month of launching. Trust us on this one.
Now that we know how many products we need to place on our store, we can continue on to finding those products!
The best thing about starting off with a general store is that you can select trending products from different niches to sell on your store. You will have a diverse product line that can appease anyone!
Market research can be daunting but it is integral to any successful business. You need a compilation of profitable niches to base your current product hunt after.
Since we are aware that is a need in high demand; we have provided a list of 20 popular niches and examples of products from each. You can get your free copy here.
Another tool that will become essential to your market researching efforts is the following link:
This site is a sink of every Shopify store in existence. The reason it will benefit YOU is that on this site you will see how many visitors each site gets a day and its own world site popular rating.
These two free tools I have handed you are great, but without the proper utilization and execution, they can keep you going in circles.
Whats the solution to this – how will you find products that will ACTUALLY sell within these different niches?
My answer for you is:
Cookie.io offers multiple features for finding profitable products to sell on your store, but for now I am going to focus on two of those features that you can use hand in hand with the tools I have given you above.
Hunt for Products
This powerful Facebook graph search reveals top product sellers, high-performing ads, and engaging content.
I’m going to walk you through finding a valuable product to sell using the 20 popular niches list I provided above.
Step 1: Go to Facebook and load up the Cookie app. Once the product search pop up appears, type in the niche you are searching for, I used the coffee niche example from our list. Make sure to include the following phrase in quotations: “get yours here.” Using the quotes ensures it will pull up results that are most likely selling something, and that is what we are ultimately in search of! Don’t worry about the rest of the fields, just click search!
Step 2: A results list will populate, but these aren’t the results were looking for. Make sure to right click the page and select the Magical Reveal option from the drop-down.
Step 3: Once the results have populated make sure you sort them by engagement to discover what products are getting the most attention.
As you can see, these prescription coffee mugs get thousands of likes and shares, so we can make the safe assumption that this is a product that will sell.
Step 4: Take note of the ad copy and even peruse through the stores to get inspiration for product descriptions and check out pricing – you want to stay competitive!
Step 5: Hop on over to Ali Express and search for those exact, or closely similar items to sell on your own store!
Top Seller Reveal
This bad boy is pretty straightforward, all you have to do is go to that website of Shopify stores I gave you, select one that interests you, enter its URL in the search field and count your lucky stars that someone created this tool for you!
You can use the results of both of these features to find these exact products or closely similar products to dropship yourself from Ali Express!
In addition to these fantastic features, Cookie.io also provides multiple monthly webinars by top industry leaders to ensure its subscribers can succeed in this industry.
Additionally, Cookie.io offers a free 7-day trial period so you can test out every feature (even the ones not mentioned in this post) to find profitable products for your store.
Once you have selected the products you want to sell on your store, you need to import them over from Ali Express.
You could spend your time importing the products over one by one and spend a few days doing it, or you can use SMAR7 Express to do all the work for you.
Using our prescription mug example, you can easily search for that item on Ali Express and click “Import to Shopify” to automatically add the product to your store within seconds using SMAR7 Express
This app will not only import the products over for you with the click of a button, but it will also fulfill those orders in Shopify for you!
SMAR7 Express is also about to launch a 100% automated dropshipping experience.
The new features will automatically:
- Purchase products
- Send confirmation emails with tracking information
- Ship the products to your customer
- Update your inventory
- Handle any issues that may arise
Soon enough you will be able to fulfill orders without having to even login to Shopify!
Express also offers a 7-day free trial, so go ahead and cut out a chunk of your workday by installing SMAR7 Express here.
Now that we have covered finding and importing products to your store, we must focus our attention on…
The testing period is where many store owners let their distractions and impatience get the best of them. You HAVE to give your products TIME to TEST.
Just because sales aren’t flying in within the first 12 hours doesn’t mean your products are a complete flop, don’t go frantically searching for new products to go load onto your store, just yet.
It will turn into a sick cycle of getting you and your business nowhere.
When you first open your store you will be running test and collecting as much data as you can.
Data collection and testing products aren’t the sexiest parts of running your own business, but it definitely leads to what is – revenue.
You should allocate 3 days to properly test the success of each product. If you do come across a few flops – do not get discouraged! Use that information to pivot and find products that will drive sales!
After about a month of data collection and putting products through their tests and trials, you can slowly expand and begin adding products related to the original line. Continue to test and see which niche is showing the most promising results.
Once you begin to gain traction and discover the niche category that works for your store, you can expand on that particular collection and eventually break into that niche completely.
Backtracking to myth #1, you may still not have a devoted passion for this particular niche, but you do have a greater understanding of the market demands to continue running a prosperous store.
Your journey doesn’t end here. Just because you’re beating your monthly revenue goals does not mean that product testing and research should stop, you must continually phase products in and out to advance your successes.
Now that we have determined your course of action and finally resolved the ongoing question of “niche or general?”, go out there and create your store with the assistance of Cookie.io and SMAR7 Express and come back here for more resolutions to your e-commerce woes.
Patricia is a self-proclaimed dog enthusiast who also happens to spearhead the content marketing efforts at SMART Apps. When she’s not petting dogs or writing about the industry insights, you can find her on a yoga mat or reading anything that feeds her bibliophilic needs.