Specialty retailers have to carve out a niche for themselves in a way that fosters strong customer loyalty in order to compete with heavy-hitting mass merchants that may carry similar products. They can do so through powerful site design, effective marketing tactics, the addition of advanced techniques such as mobile commerce and social media, and more. The specialty/non-apparel retailers in this year’s Hot 100 stand out in their niche markets for these reasons and offer lessons to other retailers in any number of categories.
Headsets.com, for example, crafted a tool called Find a Headset in Just Seconds that helps shoppers understand its complex product and swiftly gets them to the headset that perfectly meets their needs.
Diapers.com this year is carving out new niches: In June it launched Soap.com and before the end of the year it plans to launch BeautyBar.com, a beauty products site, and YoYo.com, a toys site. Shoppers will be able to select items from all of these sites, put them into a single shopping cart and check out once.
Folica has focused on web site design to differentiate itself from competitors, and has done so in a way that gets shoppers through a tangle of myriad products. It lets shoppers search its 5,000-product inventory by such hair-related concerns as controlling frizz, tangles or damaged hair.
Scentiments.com enables returning shoppers to restock. And it helps customers to discover new fragrances, so the site provides finely tuned product recommendations and customer reviews to introduce shoppers to new products.
These retailers, along with the quickly growing local-deals site Groupon, shine in a category where retailers have to be outstanding in order to succeed.
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