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7 Examples of Innovative Ecommerce Startups

Nowadays, more or less anything can be sold online – with some obvious exceptions of course. The beauty of running an e-commerce store is you can be as specialist as you like: there’s no pressure to sell a wide range of products. In fact, it’s better to do it this way. Success online is all about finding your niche and serving that niche admirably. This is something that each of the following examples has in common. What’s more, they understand the power of content and authenticity. Let’s examine what the below e-commerce startups are doing right.

 Awl & Sundry: Custom footwear

Awl & Sundry designs custom shoes, handmade by experienced artisans. This kind of made-to-wear footwear is certainly a niche product and a godsend to those who struggle to find shoes that fit them. Shopping with Awl & Sundry is a truly personal experience, allowing the customer to choose from a wide range of styles, shapes, colours and materials. It also offers a free resolving service.

credit: awlandsundry

Artisanal goods are experiencing a comeback, especially online. Awl & Sundry appeals to this trend, allowing its visitors to digitally design their own shoes in real time. And so, there is a sense of investment in the final product. High in quality and low in cost, Awl & Sundry is a winning business model.

Boxed: Bulk online shopping

An online wholesale retailer founded in New York, Boxed allows its customers to bulk order groceries, household, health and beauty products via its website and mobile app. It’s quick, convenient and ideal for city dwellers.

credit: boxed

Because it sells in bulk, Boxed offers its customer free delivery – another great incentive to make a purchase. Boxed has done its research and understands the needs of its audience: namely speed, convenience and low costs. Users don’t even have to register if they don’t want to. Could this be the new Amazon of household shopping?

HelloFlo: Subscription sanitary products

One of the most popular new e-commerce startups for women, HelloFlo delivers tampons, pads and candy to its subscribers’ doorsteps at just the right time every month. Founded by Naama Bloom in 2012, this monthly care package helps young women through their first periods with timely treats and sanitary saviours. They call them ‘kits for your lady bits’.

credit: shop.helloflo

HelloFlo nailed its video marketing campaign, which formed a large part of its success. Its first viral video ‘The Camp Gyno’ has nearly 12 million views to date, and its subsequent video ‘First Moon Party’ has done even better, with nearly 40 million views. Combining awesome marketing with practical advice, these one-of-a-kind care packages look set to go far.

Jack Jones: Fashionable menswear

What’s so innovative about menswear, I hear you ask? For Jack Jones online menswear, it’s not so much what they sell that makes them innovative, but rather how they present it. In retail terms, it’s known as ‘clustering’, and it’s a pretty hot trend in e-commerce right now.

credit: jackjones

Look at this feature, for example. On selecting a jacket, you get this useful toolbar that makes recommendations to go with it. The focus is on creating outfits, rather than individual products. That’s some smart upselling right there.

KinkyTease: Apparel for kinksters

Speaking of finding your niche, KinkyTease is a great example of a young startup who has lasered in on a specific target market. They design and sell clothing ‘for kinksters by kinksters’, or in other words, ‘clothing for when a ball gag just isn’t appropriate’.

credit: kinkytease

KinkyTease is intended to let its audience ‘show their true colours without worry’. This store just goes to show that setting up a successful e-commerce venture is open to everybody. With a clear target audience and a simple store created using Shopify, they put out a couple of great designs and boom: they’re making sales.

Porch: Local home improvement professionals

Back in 2015, Porch.com raised $65 million to get its venture off the ground. Clearly, they hit the nail on the head, as this home services platform has universal appeal. Using this service, homeowners can find any home improvement service they require at the simple touch of a button. This is what’s known as a ‘gold mine’ – a niche market worth millions.

credit: porch

And you know what else? Porch actually offers its customers a $1000 guarantee for work carried out, so there is an element of security involved. What better way to earn the trust of your users than by protecting their interests?

Birchbox: Monthly beauty subscription

Subscriptions boxes are becoming all the rage, and it’s easy to see why. Don’t we all love getting surprised treats in the post? Following the success of instigators such as Graze, there are now subscription boxes for almost everything. Even beauty products: hence Birchbox.

credit: birchbox

With Birchbox, you get a monthly subscription of five beauty products delivered to your home for $10 a month – with free shipping. While there’s certainly value in trying out these products for yourself in regular stores, there is something magical about receiving them in the post and discovering new things you may not have chosen for yourself. Founded in 2010, Birchbox is now enjoying great success and is hailed as one of the top e-commerce startups.

So what can we take away from each of these examples? Each one has nailed its product offering and reaches out to customers with very specific tastes and desires. They each offer one kind of product – or certainly one kind of specialism. And they do the hard work for you. How can your business measure up? 

For more great startup tips and insights, especially around E-Commerce – listen to our podcast episode w/ Andres Ocampo: EP017 – Creating ENTRPRNR, a Lifestyle Apparel Company for Entrepreneurs, $100K in Sales in First Year & Getting Stars to Wear Your Brand


This article was written by Patrick Foster.

As a startup owner and digital marketer, I understand the power and importance of finding that one thing you’re really good at. I write for a range of online publications worldwide and offer advice on all things business, branding and marketing.

You can find more about me and my content at ecommercetips.org, or on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn

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