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I'm trying to decide between selling all widgets on there, or to have the site focus on a specific type of widget.
I feel I'm limiting myself if I focus on a specific widget type, but then again, I think maybe I will have a bigger impact amongst people who are looking for that specific widget type. I can have a social media aspect around it as well, so the whole site will focus on this niche.
I already have another site that sells all widgets, so maybe this would be a good balance to have a niche site?
Anyone have any thoughts or experience on this?
It gives you:
- better marketing opportunities
- better trust of your customers
Starting with narrow niche product, you might gradually try with related products to expand your niche.
Having wider selection might seem like you might have wider customer's base, but it is harder to convert wide base of potential customers into actual buyers.
Plus, when/if the time comes to sell that biz, you have a niche nailed down.
[edited by: HRoth at 1:26 pm (utc) on Jan. 7, 2009]
However, I do agree 100% with the "specialist" angle -- the emails and calls we receive from the niche sites are significantly more technical and detailed than from the catch-all. The differences are, in my mind, comparable to those of a general practitioner/family doctor and a cardiologist -- while they're both highly trained doctors, you're only ever going to have one perform open heart surgery. Still, both are necessary and both serve a purpose. So once again, I suggest you go for both if possible.
However, there's one manufacturer that makes widgets for my niche as well as for another niche.
When the other niche gets active in the late spring/early summer, I run AdWords ads for the unrelated niche widgets. I get a good response because my prices are far lower than the competitors in that unrelated niche. The margins in my niche are low, but are very high in the unrelated niche, so I thought,"why not?" Customers who are shopping for price buy like crazy from me.
is it basically that you have one site where everything is combined and 5 sites that divide those same items amongst them into niches? And if so, how do you get around getting a duplicate content penalty?
The stores are divided much as you suspect: the catch-all has, more or less, every single item our brick and mortar business sells (I work for a plumbing wholesaler, so you can imagine that there are quite a few items). The niche sites are broken down by product categories (i.e. 'red widgets' as opposed to simply 'widgets').
The niche sites are done as entirely seperate entities. They are registered to a different LLC, hosted on a different DNS than the main store so they have different IPs and TLDs -- it's as if they are unrelated in any way and they do not have overlapping content between them (not a single SKU). The only duplicate content between the sites is the toll-free number at the top of every page and product files such as manufacturer .pdf files for dimensions and specifications. We tried to change product write-ups as much as possible, but there are only so many ways to describe some widgets...and some product pictures/marketing information provided by the manufacturers.
Essentially, the only shared space between the main site and satellite sites is the warehouse from which material is shipped; as of yet Google and Yahoo haven't sent spiders to the warehouse :o)
Still, the satellite sites work well enough and target a customer base we were not accessing previously. They are also, on a per visitor basis, cheaper as there are fewer documents to call up and significantly fewer SKUs; they have less "window shoppers" and more "potential buyers" so there is a lower bandwith per user* requirement as they tend to find exactly what they want and then purchase or bounce. The main site, with its plethora of products, sees a lot of traffic wandering around and browsing. No complaints to that end as I enjoy seeing "Time Spent on Site: 01:23:45" and really long click paths, etc.
All things considered, it's a set-up I would urge any and all to attempt as we do see a significant variation between the two types of sites. When one is having an off day, the other tends (but not always) to pick up the slack.
*We were one of the first customers to use our web developer/hosting firm when "they" were "he" and just a start-up, so we have a great relationship and are on a unlimited usage plan with dedicated servers (not to mention we have never had a late payment)...so my stats here are very rudimentary as they are not an actual concern. This is also how we have come upon our current main site/satellite site set-up; I doubt it would have been as easy or smooth without their assistance.
This is what I am so interested in. I have noticed in my site what you are talking about with your main site--people wandering around and window-shopping. My widgets are of four basic types and I have long thought it would be much more efficient and perhaps get me more business if I split it up. People can be after a particular widget, but if they see it in the wrong context, they don't want it as much. Thanks for the inspiration, HugeNerd.