10 Surprising Marketplace Niches You Would Never Think Of (With Examples!)
Sep 24 min read
IT Marketing Strategist at Ideamotive. Travel addict and remote work advocate.
In the global marketplace era, the key to success in e-commerce is to cater to niche customers. Check out a number of areas that can spark inspiration for your future online marketplace.
In 2018, the 100 largest online marketplace platforms earned $1.86 billion, which accounted for over 95% of the revenue of all platforms and approx. 65% of all e-commerce in the world.
Digital marketplace cash cows such as Amazon or Alibaba own their success to their ginormous selection of goods. However, the giants’ one-size-fits-all offer and generic customer experience is their Achilles heel. Those who leverage it to their own benefit can feast on quite a substantial piece of the e-commerce pie, as proven by Uber or Etsy. These two started small, but Uber is currently valued at $11.3 billion and Etsy’s revenue as of 2018 was $603.7 million.
Niche Marketplace Business: Where’s The Dough?
Small or innovative businesses are more than keen to leverage the internet marketplace business model as it allows immediate access to a very large number of customers, high recognition, and ready-to-use technical solutions, usually in exchange for a commission fee.
By tapping into a unique niche, they can focus focuses intensely on selected products or services. Thus, they become a trusted source of information for the buyers, and even a go-to place of positive emotions related to their social belonging.
See 10 these niche areas that have hit a jackpot in terms of catering to their clients:
Despite high saturation of this market, we surely haven’t seen everything yet. An emerging online marketplace can break through stiff competition by focusing on factors other than products. See how streetwear marketplace Stockx adds a bit of thrill to the shopping experience with their stock market-like transaction model, or how Threadless determines its product line based on the results of online design competitions. In turn, Craftsvilla goes strictly regional, focusing solely on ethnic Indian fashion, and GoTrendier, a second-hand fashion platform targets Spanish-speaking users only.
Stockx is a marketplace for sneaker freaks
The popularity of unique handicraft gifts marketplaces like Notonthehighstreet or independent artisan services, such as Floom proves that the market for products and services to make “the special occasion” even more special must be treated as a potential money maker. What can turn out a game-changer here is an online marketplace proposal for culturally-specific events, such as Shaadimagic, an Indian wedding marketplace-cum-cultural guide, or yet untapped occasions, such as funerals. See how Beyond and Funeral Market Place do it: apart from the usual merchandise and accessories, both offer a range of services, including memorial tattoos.
The need to express personal style apart from fashion is also a never-ending fodder for e-commerce. Niche platforms encourage customization of anything and everything, from MojiLaLa custom-made emoji stickers, to personalized accessories offered by Artistmarketplace, to bespoke jewellery available at CustomMade. Similarly, once the modest idea of marketplace for furniture has now turned into an entire niche for fancy house redecoration. For example, Fasadio delivers designs, materials, professional supervision and cost estimation for house exterior, while Houzz focuses on the interior, connecting designers, contractors and manufacturers.
Fasadio - marketplace for facades craftsmen
The appearance of internet platforms for travelers opened a plethora of unique experiences, from exotic getaways, to fine dining, to F1 bolid rides (IfOnly). After the increasingly popular house sitting (offered e.g. by HouseCarers) or house swapping (e.g. LoveHomeSwap) for an annual fee, the next level is to experience the life and work on sustainable farms worldwide through WWOOF. When it comes to leveraging a niche potential, though, our favorite is Tripr, a platform catering to fishing fans, offering fishing trips to 150 destinations all over the world.
FinTech, InsurTech and TradeTech products have shaken banking and finance, opening doors to various financial marketplaces. There are savings products marketplaces such as Raisin, low-risk P2P lending marketplaces such as Mintos, or more complex platforms such as Fidor, which expands the range of financial services to include bonds, cryptocurrencies, or precious metals trading. Business enjoys even more specific instruments, such as FINEON Exchange, a marketplace for exporters, or Bloomimpact, a platform for SMBs in Africa. Also, watch out for upcoming online platforms accepting cryptocurrency, such as Forra.
Recently, business has seen a number of time-saving niches opening, some of them quite ingenious. For example, the freight industry can lower their transportation costs with a ship fuel marketplace BunkerEx, and life science businesses can leverage Clora, an on-demand research platform. The construction industry recently welcomed Mediatask, a one-stop-shop for real estate visuals, and BuildingConnected a LinkedIn-type platform for contractors. Smaller players and liberal professionals also have their own niches: Globality liaises between SMBs and global Fortune 1000 companies, and GestaltD acts as a one-stop-shop for high-end interior designers.
Mediatask provides architects and interior designers and delivers floor plans
Following all-freelance job marketplaces (e.g. WeWorkRemotely, Upwork), the next logical step is marketplaces for specific professional groups. Nomad Health offers freelance healthcare jobs, Contena focuses on writing jobs, Stackoverflow and GitHub are web developer marketplaces, Quickee targets the digital marketing niche. In connecting companies with job seekers who want to try new and different jobs first-hand before applying, Hoppin challenges the status quo. The same goes for Revelo, a high-profile job seekers marketplace showcases candidates and puts the responsibility to contact them on future employers.
8. Ethical Business
Examples of some marketplace businesses prove that you can make a buck and keep your conscience in a good shape: Ten Thousand Villages supports local artisans in the third world, while Petit Vour specializes in vegan-only brands. Interesting concepts are Goldex, a marketplace for transparent gold investment, and Roofstock, a platform that allows buying and selling single-family homes without forcing renters to leave the property during a transaction.
9. Environment Protection
The boom for green living has taken new turns with the arrival of the online marketplace. DekoEko relieves business of waste and turns it into fashion and home accessories and MisfitsMarket is a subscription door-to-door delivery of imperfect fruit and vegetables. On the other hand, photovoltaic marketplaces SecondSol and Milk the Sun cater end-to end to consumers interested in clean energy sources.
SecondSol is an example of a marketplace disrupting the energy market
10. The Digital
Where there’s demand and supply, expect a marketplace soon, regardless whether the goods are tangible, or not. Apart from bitcoin marketplaces such as Binance, other types of digital goods traded online include web advertising traffic (Zeropark) or location data (StreetCred). A very interesting initiative came from RapidAPI: the commission-based marketplace for APIs makes integrating third-party services into own apps, and to let own apps get used more easily by others.
Why Not Building Your Own Marketplace?
According to experts, the next phase is marketplaces for services, including regulated markets that have withstood digital transformation for decades. This niche is complex and diverse, but according to Verified Market Research, the Global Home Services Market is expected to grow by 18.91% and reach USD 1,133.40 billion by 2026.
Michał is a digital marketing veteran with a growth hacking mindset and 10+ years of experience. His goal is building high-quality technological content, with particular emphasis on React and Ruby on Rails. Traveler, climber, remote work advocate.