jwolthuis - 8:40 pm on Jan 18, 2012 (gmt 0)
There would be value in this strategy if the mini-sites offered premium services, and appeared to the shopper as an authority in the genre.
Shoppers at the mini-sites aren't looking to load-up their cart with many items; they are focused on the exact genre that the mini-site offers, and they want it *now*.
For example, make a mini-site offering top-50 pencils that you always have deep stock, and offer them at a premium price with overnight shipping.
That way, if someone is hot for the latest yellow pencil (for example), they find your premium mini-site where they can get it tomorrow. Include the latest pink pencil sharpener for free. You'd capture the customers who don't want to wait a week for the lowest price from Walmart.
The mini-site strategy fails if you're simply trying to multiply your presence. If it's currently You + 20 competitors, I thinks it's unwise to think you'll capture half the market with 20 more sites.