Welcome to our niche ecommerce site project for 2017! Tess and I decided earlier this year that we’d start another ecommerce store and record day by day what steps we had taken. This will be to give you an idea of what we do to start a niche, as well as the order in which we do it.

While we already had a niche in mind, we made the decision to not start anything until the 1st of May. So no domain registration, no talking about it, no looking for product, or packaging, and no further research beyond what we had already done to determine what niche we would choose.

Speaking of this, choosing what niche to go into is still such a vital part of the process, that we need to talk about it before launching into the “blow by blow” events that began in May.

The niche we have chosen is “pocket watches”, and as we are in Australia, we are focusing purely on the Australian market initially. The search term pocket watch gets approximately 3600 searches per month in Australia, although a second primary keyword was identified, as “fob watch” (another name for a pocket watch) also gets 1900 searches. A third term “nurses watch” was also found, as it has 2900 searches, and refers to a style of pocket watch worn by nurses (“nurses fob watch” also has 720 searches).

From a profitability standpoint, other competitors in Google.com.au sell pocket watches in the $150-$1000 range, and we believe we can hit our preferred price range of $50-300 fairly easily, with a product cost of around $10-15. Until we see the quality of the products we would be getting however, this has still yet to be properly determined. It’s definitely a product that with the right branding and packaging can be given a high perceived value.

As far as the product itself, it does have a lot of moving parts, which is not ideal. On the plus side though, traditional pocket watches are fully mechanical, which means that they are hand wound, and have no electrical parts. Given we are going to brand ourselves as pocket watch “snobs”, we won’t be including any battery operated watches unless customers demand them for some reason (they may be required for the nurse watch category, but we’ll see).

We’ve also spoken to the supplier about adding gold plating to some watches (to create a premium range) and they have the ability to do this, but would require larger quantities, so we’ll wait a bit before going down this path. Gold plating is quite cost effective these days, and adds a huge amount of perceived value to any item.

As far as SEO competition is concerned, the primary two metrics we look at is the Domain Authority (DA) of our competitors and the relevance of their sites. Ebay ranks #1 and #2 for this term, which is a good sign in our opinion, as we outrank ebay in all of our other established niches. While it has a very high DA, ebay as a whole has very little relevance to pocket watches. Position #3 is a small store that just happens to be located only 45 minutes from where we live. It’s a clock shop, so has reasonably high relevance as a whole to the keyword, although they sell a wide variety of goods, not just pocket watches. It has a DA of 23, which is not particularly high, although it will take quite some time to beat. It definitely falls below 30 though, which makes it doable. Looking at the backlinks to the site, it’s pretty clear that they have done no actual dedicated SEO to achieve this position, so this also bodes well for us to reel them in over time, as we dedicate our resources to doing this.

Other competitors in the top ten include sites with DAs of 22 and 20, and even include non-Australian sites, which is also a very good sign.

The only real question for us at this stage is whether or not we should go after nurses watches as well. Clearly the product is very similar, and fits very well with our upmarket branding concept, and we’re always happy for more traffic, but the competition is very different, although still shows some good weakness (one site even has a DA of 17, and another has a DA of 15). It’s a tricky one though, but it’s also a question we can revisit down the track.

In the next post, we’ll get stuck into the blow by blow of what we did from Day #1.