Building a New Product? The Trick is Niching Down.

Let's say we were getting into the eCommerce product space…

Imagine I was getting into the eCommerce product space. The first advice I'd give myself would all be about niching down. Because, after all, it's the first advice I'd give you too.

Let's go further and say we still wanted to stay in the WordPress world. Knowing that WooCommerce exists, and is the largest online platform for eCommerce, I'd tell you that trying to compete directly would be silly. But by niching down, you'd have a way forward.

You know who I don't have to tell that to? Nicole Evans. She's on twitter, but she's been heads down building Studiocart.

It's a perfect example of niching down in the eCommerce space for folks using WordPress. She's built a focused solution for coaches and course creators.

Let's start by looking at the sample I created with her plugin. Notice that it's a product page, and a cart, and checkout, all in one screen. Here's the top of the page.

And here's the second half of the page. Notice that it has an order bump on the right side under the credit card space.

Studiocart is the perfect example of niching down

Studiocart niched down because Nicole had already built tons of sites for coaches and course creators. She had used WooCommerce and the various extensions required to make all of this happen. So when it was time to build a product, she knew what her customers needed. And that works as a perfect example as I share my niching strategies to you.

What's the first thing you notice? For me, regardless of what other plugin she might have used to create this solution before building Studiocart, is that you can build the site she hopes you'll build without any other plugins.

That's powerful. A single plugin to help you build your coaching site. Wow!

Ok, so let's get into my five step framework for niching down.

Step One: Focus on the essentials

If you want to niche down, the first thing you have to get clear on is who your target customer is. When we talk about niching down, we're often talking about market. When someone builds a cart, it's for anyone who wants to sell anything. When Nicole built Studiocart, she focused on coaches, for example, and didn't try to create a cart for people selling physical goods.

If you read the FAQs on her page, you'll see she says “No” more than she says “Yes.”

  • Does it sell physical products? No.
  • Does it work with other carts? No.
  • What about running my whole eCommerce store? No.

Most of the time we focus on matching competitors. It's a waste of time. Instead, choose your customer and build the features that they consider essential.

For example, many coaches I know have windows where they launch / sell their stuff. So, for them, having a cart open and cart close (see below) option is critical.

Step Two: Features define your target

The second step in niching down is that the story is everything. You bake the narrative into the product so that people can self-select (in or out) based on the features they're seeing.

Coaches that sell online have long known that they need installments. Every internet marketer knows it. About the only people who have struggled to embrace this is WordPress product folks. I have no idea why but I've long advocated that folks should add this feature to their prodcuts.

Studiocart demonstrates that it knows its market by creating the exact feature that differentiates itself from all the other options out there.

Step Three: Eliminate complexity

Now, I want you to think about the last time you built an eCommerce site for a business selling coaching, courses, or something else digital.

You knew, at the start, that they didn't need shipping fields. But it likely meant you needed another plugin for editing fields at checkout.

You likely knew you were going to want an order bump. Another plugin.

And maybe a post-purchase option. Another plugin.

Want to show or hide the coupon field? Another plugin.

And with more plugins comes the fear that they won't work well together, right?

Studiocart eliminates complexity. No additional plugins needed. All of it is part of the single plugin.

Step Four: Make hard things easy

Steps four and five for niching down are twins.

Make hard things easy. And the next rule – keep the easy things easy.

Look at how simple the order bump is. No extra plugin, no extra configuration. Just pick the product and then choose your photo, headline and text.

Step Five: Keep easy things easy

Studiocart integrates with Mailchimp, ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign. Each one lets you define when and where to save a record of the buyer into each system. It keeps things easy, as you can see below.

Niching down isn't hard if you know your customers

So let's re-cap. Niching down is about:

  1. Focusing on the essentials
  2. Targeted features for a targeted audience
  3. Remove complexity
  4. Make hard things easy
  5. Keep easy things easy

I know what you're going to say. “No duh, Chris.” It's straightforward and simple, right?

Only if you know who your target customer is.

But it's hard when you don't. Because you start saying yes a lot. Instead of saying no a lot.

As you've seen here, I really dig what Nicole has done with Studiocart. If I was going to step into the space, I'd have gone right where she went. So now I guess I'll just point people her way!

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Chris Lema
Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.