Beyond Amazon: The Rise of the Niche Economy

Beyond Amazon: The Rise of the Niche EconomyAnd interview with Webgility CEO Parag Mamnani by Ina Steiner for EcommerceBytes 411

Amazon is an important marketplace, but online merchants should not limit themselves to a single channel, according to Parag Mamnani, the founder and CEO Webgility (pictured). He also notes that as Amazon is bringing about commoditization, there is a side effect: The desire on the part of shoppers for quality, unique, and crafted goods. Mamnani says sellers should find creative ways to use Amazon and other marketplaces: “My advice is to sell products on multiple channels, including Amazon,” he told EcommerceBytes. “Some retailers break down their inventory and sell just a specialized sub-section on Amazon to move larger amounts at lower margins. And some sell in bulk on their own website versus moving a single product on Amazon.”

Giants such as Walmart, Jet, Target, Costco, and Rakuten are expanding their footprints, as the Facebook marketplace, the inevitable Google marketplace, and Pinterest Buy It buttons mean social media selling also looms on the horizon. “This gradual disruption will give small businesses more choices from which to sell their products and that will lead to improved experiences for both the buyer and the seller,” according to Mamnani.

That provides not only opportunities, but challenges as well: “That increase in choice will also mean there will be more systems for online merchants to figure out and integrate.” So what are the lessons for merchants – should they be content to rely on Amazon for a majority of sales, or should they be diversifying – and if so, how? “In 2017 there will be plenty of folks who don’t want everything they own to be found on Amazon, and that is why marketplaces like Etsy are booming and custom Shopify stores are being launched every day. The niche economy will be sustained and grow internationally as entrepreneurs are more educated, supported, and empowered by the larger global ecommerce infrastructure that’s found on marketplaces and platforms.”

Where should smaller sellers be focusing their efforts – commodities or niche? “In the coming year, niche products, crafts, and small-batch merchandise are going to continue to accelerate in popularity. In fact, the very commoditization of most goods will cause individuality and quality to rise in value and importance. And since consumers are all buying the same commodity items, those costs will be driven even further down.”

Mamnani’s company services merchants with a wide range of revenue, between $250K to $50M each year. “Their revenue growth usually increases quickly once they add infrastructure efficiencies like automating sales data, inventory, shipping, and accounting,” he said. “We find that ecommerce owners who take steps to get out of the day-to-day minutia of operations and begin to focus on growth and data analysis see very quick returns on their investment in technology.”

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