What is the online marketplace?
Of course you already know that internet shopping is very convenient, you can shop 24/7, you save petrol money and travel time, and you can wear your bathrobe and slippers in the process.
However a major overlooked advantage of online shopping is not discussed often, but is definitely a driver in online sales. It's anonymity.
It is so much simpler for the 300 pound plus woman to order a bathing suit online, try it on at home and return it by mail if it does not fit, than to model those suits in the glare of a public dressing room.
The same goes for the 5.2' man who wants to buy shoes with a very thick sole to give him more height. He can go to a shoe store and ask for those specialised shoes, announcing to the salesperson and anyone within earshot that he is not comfortable with who he is, or he can anonymously order from a website without facing his own securities or other people's opinions.
What is this niche, really?
Frankly, we are not talking about a specific niche in the usual way. A niche is usually a collection of people with the same, rather unique interests. We are really talking about a need, the need to be private, that motivates many online buyers. You would not respond to this niche in the same way. For example, you would not put together a website selling XXXL women's bathing suits and 2 inch sole, size 6 men's shoes.
What you might do, however, is to think about people who need this kind of privacy. For example:
- Overweight men, women and children;
- Short men;
- Tall women;
- Women who have issues with their bodies, small bust, large bust;
- Men who have issues with their bodies, balding, excess hair, etc.
The people who populate these categories are people with special needs that the Internet has the best chance of fulfilling. That means that one of these groups may be a perfect market for a grouping of products that solves their problems.
A product example
Go back to the first example of the very overweight woman and bathing suits. Given the rising level of obesity, this is a growing market of people with a serious problem. One of the most successful online retailers is Roamans, an online resource for plus size women's clothing. You might say, 'So why would I want to compete with the big guys?'
Interestingly though, while Roamans is a huge seller, it is really just a catalogue site. You could choose to specialise in large size bathing suits and establish a larger collection than the big retailers who have to have limits on any one item because of the large number of items they need to carry.
You could also offer large size women more value than Roamans does. For example, you can offer tips on which bathing suit types work best for large women. You can discuss what to look for in a bathing suit if the woman has a very large bust, and highlight some of your offerings.
You could even offer cover ups that do a good job of covering up but have some style, understanding that many large women feel okay once they are in the water, but do not want to be a spectacle on the beach or walking to the pool.
You can even provide information on how swimming can help with muscle toning and health. (You would probably stay away from dieting and other issues that might make your customer feel guilty or ashamed.)
Cater to confidentiality
You can make it clear on your site that you cater to confidentiality. This may be one of those times that you do not want your brand name to reflect your product quite as clearly.
For example, while it may be okay for your domain name to be forshortmen.com so you can be found, your customer may not want a package or a line item on a credit card from a company by that name. You may want to make your company and brand name something less obvious such as 'Man House.'
Focus on the improvement
In many cases, you will want to focus on how your product can meet your customers' special needs. Before and after pictures can be helpful, especially if there is a compelling change or benefit that can be visualised.
You can have a strong positive impact on this special anonymous marketplace while building a profitable business helping to meet special needs.