7 Hot Niche Marketplaces for Indie Sellers

by Gail Oliver, E-commerce Marketing Specialist

Looking for some new places to sell your products online, besides the traditional, well-known marketplaces?

You are going to see the online marketplace start to change, with more niche players emerging to help really zero in on certain target markets and demographics, and make the shopping experience faster and easier.

Below is a list of some niche-specific marketplaces that are looking for products from indie sellers.

online selling sites

7 Cool Niche Online Marketplaces

1. Asos Marketplace

Asos is a large UK fashion online retailer, but they also have a marketplace where independent and vintage fashion sellers from all over the world can set up a shop and get in front of Asos’ customers.

2. DENY Designs

While their online shop shows products in a variety of categories, DENY Designs specifically indicate that they are looking to feature the artwork of independent artists. You upload your art to them, and they do the printing, packaging, shipping and marketing.

3. Fair Goods

Fair Goods has only been around about a year, but is gaining momentum. It is currently seeking US and Canadian apparel, home, accessories, digital products from indie sellers to sell on its site.

4. Minted

Minted is a very successful online invitation retailer, but they are also constantly searching for new graphic designers to sell their stationary and art prints in their online shop. They run a number of design challenges throughout the year and sell the winning entries in their online shop.

5. Modalyst

If you are a rising independent fashion or accessory designer and you are trying to get wider distribution for your products in stores, Modalyst acts like your wholesale middleman, helping major retailers discover indie designers.

6. PoppyTalk

One of the top pinners on Pinterest with millions of followers, Jan of the blog PoppyTalk, has long been a supporter of artisans. The newly relaunched marketplace on her site features artisan products in the categories of accessories, home, stationary, art, and even vintage.

7. ZuLily

ZuLily has been a hugely successful “flash” sales site and they love indie sellers. While the initial focus was kids and baby clothing and products, they are now showcasing home and men’s and women’s fashion as well.

It might be worthwhile to add one of these marketplaces (if applicable) to your current online selling experience. If you can handle the additional administrative tasks that come with selling with more than one site, it is worth it to widen your distribution.

GB OliverNeed advice on how to market your online business? I offer a variety of affordable services. Please contact me to discuss at attentiongetting@gmail.com or check out my E-shop

© 2014 Gail Oliver. All right reserved.

My Killer Twitter Tip for Finding New Customers for Your Business

by Gail Oliver, Small Business Marketing Consultant

People are very descriptive with their Twitter profiles. Do you ever read them? Here are some examples (I have removed the Twitter names):

YouTuber | Journalist | Workaholic | Documentary Filmmaker

Small Town Gal – Sports Enthusiast – Foodie – Wannabe Fashionista

Proud Bostonian | Former NYer | Cookbook Author | Future Chef 

See where I am going here? You can find potential customers on Twitter by searching their profiles for the words that describe your target customer.

My Killer Twitter Tip

What words would describe your target customer? Write out a list of one or two-word phrases of how you think that your customer would describe themselves.

Then go to the Twitter search box and type in the words and scroll down to the bottom of the search box where it says “Search all people for”….

Twitter Tips

Now, when the list of people whose profile descriptions have these words in them appears, you may not see potential customers near the top as these tend to be Twitter user names that include these words. You need to scroll down the list to read the profile descriptions to really identify who could be a potential customer for you.

You then want to follow them on Twitter.  They get a notification that you are following them, which may peak their interest to check out your profile and see what you do.

Examples of Twitter People Search Words

  • If you sell wedding products, you want to search for profiles that contain phrases such as “getting married” or “engaged”.
  • If you sell jewelry, try searching for people whose profiles say “jewelry lover” or “jewelry junkie”.
  • If you sell clothing, search on “fashionista”
  • If you sell kids or baby products, try searching “new mom” or “mom to”
  • If you sell pet products, try “dog owner” or more specifically “pug lover”
  • If you are targeting someone who holds a specific job, enter that phrase such as “IT specialist”, “fashion blogger”, “interior designer”, “web developer”

Popular Descriptives in People’s Twitter Profiles

  • Vegetarian
  • Athlete
  • Fitness freak
  • Wine drinker
  • Geek
  • College student
  • Sports fanatic
  • Avid reader
  • Traveler

This is an effective technique if you follow Twitter profiles that are still active. The popular e-commerce clothing shop, Nasty Gal, began their huge success simply by following the MySpace pages of their target customer.

Don’t miss out on more exclusive marketing tips. Be sure to follow my blog to get new posts by email (just see the right column of my blog for “Follow” button).

GB OliverWant social media ideas exclusively for your small business? I offer a Social Media Marketing Plan for just $99 US, customized specifically for you. Contact me to discuss at attentiongetting@gmail.com or order here

© 2014 Gail Oliver. All right reserved.


4 Proven Ways to Get Customers to Buy Right Away

by Gail Oliver, Small Business Marketing Consultant

If you want to get your customers to act quickly, sometimes you need to create a sense of urgency.

For example, the other day I filled up my cart at a particular online vendor. However, I did not place the order right away. Like most women, I started shopping around first, comparing prices, and still contemplating whether I wanted to complete the transaction. Later that day I saw two items missing out of my shopping cart. These items had already gone out of stock. So I panicked and placed the order out of fear that my other sale items would no longer be available.

Now I don’t know if this was the retailer’s intention, but it worked on me. So here are some proven tactics that you can try to get customers to act quickly:

1. Today Only Sales

Whenever you run a sale, if you make it a week-long or month-long sale, people likely won’t act right away, and will probably forget about it. Today Only Sales make customers act today.

today only sales

2. Only a Certain Quantity Left

If you indicate that there is “Only 10 left” of a product, or even “Last One!” people will feel the urgency because they don’t want to wait until it is back in stock, and take a chance that it will be back in stock at all. Plus, it makes the product look popular, so the buyer thinks they are buying something that is in demand.

How to get sales

3. Last Day to Order to Arrive by Christmas

With holiday shopping around the corner, customers forget to factor in shipping time when ordering online. Prompt them with exactly how long they have to receive in time and they will decide faster, especially if the deadline is getting closer.

how to get quick sales

4. Not Available Again Until Next Year

This is a sales ploy Disney often uses with their DVDs, offering them for sale for a limited time only and then they are “back in the vault”. Same with Cadbury Easter Cream Eggs and McDonald’s McRib. This is a good tactic for products that don’t have a large market, but a loyal market.

how to get quick sales

The key to getting customers to act quickly is to create a sense of time urgency. If they know there is no rush and that they can take their time, they will.

GB OliverAbout Me: I’m Gail Oliver, a small business marketing consultant and I help hundreds of small businesses each year with a variety of affordable marketing services for small businesses. I even offer special services for Etsy Shops. Feel free to contact me at attentiongetting@gmail.com to find out how I can help your small business. 

© 2014 Gail Oliver

How These Products Become a Dominant Brand By Specializing in Just One Thing

by Gail Oliver, Small Business Marketing Consultant

If you want to dominate a specific niche of the market and really establish a strong brand, even as an indie product maker, you can do if it you just do one thing and do it better and/or differently than anyone else. Here are three fairly new players that took age-old products and have quickly making them the go-to brand.

The Herschel Supply Co.

The Herschel Supply Co. is a Canadian company (yeah!) that was founded just 5 years ago by brothers Jamie and Lyndon Cormack. Named after the small west coast town where three generations of their family were raised, Herschel has quickly become the backpack to own with their modern take on classic shapes but with a keen eye for detail as you can see in the photo below (I love how their logo is front and center). They are currently being sold at major retailers such as Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters, and J. Crew

herschel backpacksForage Haberdashery

Forage is a Philadelphia-based company (that started as an Etsy shop) that makes handmade ties and bow ties from vintage fabric. In a few short years, their neckties have become wildly popular in an already competitive market. The key was using reclaimed vintage materials to really give their ties a distinct personality. They have also been able to capitalize on the vintage fashion trends inspired by pop culture, such as Mad Men and the rustic wedding trend where bow ties on groomsmen are standard attire. Makes sense that their ties are now being sold at Anthropologie’s wedding arm, BHLDNin addition to their online store. 

forage ties product ideas

EOS Lip Balms

EOS stands for the Evolution of Smooth and they specialize in lip balms. From the variety of fun flavors like Strawberry Sorbet and Honeysuckle Honeydew, to the cute colorful orb packaging, in just five years they have become the dominant lip balm, even though they run a little more expensive than their competitors. EOS lip balms are 95% organic, paraben-free and petroleum-free and offer SPF protection, which all plays into their success as well. You can find them pretty much everywhere from Target to Walgreens to Amazon.

eos lip balm


How to Dominate Your Market Segment

If you want your brand to dominate the marketplace, think about what it is that you sell. If you make jewelry, why not specialize in one necklace design in which you were the original creator. If you make skin care or beauty products, maybe all of your products are centralized around one key innovative ingredient. If you make shoes, is there one distinguishing feature you can add that no one else has, be it a style feature or a functional feature.

So ask yourself this: how can you improve upon the look, the style, the materials, the taste, the flavor, the form, the packaging, the purpose, and/or the function to turn your product into a superstar brand? These products all prove that you can take a product that has been around for decades, add a new twist, and make it a market leader.

The goal of my blog is to always inspire you to think outside of the box. If you need marketing advice for your small business, or want to even get a small business off the ground, please check out my wide range of affordable and personalized Marketing Services or my Marketing Ebooks


Need a Business Idea? Simply Solve a Problem (Like These Companies Did)

by Gail Oliver, Small Business Marketing Consultant

I often see people trying desperately to come up with an idea for a business, but the easiest way is to simply solve a problem that people are having. It could be with a current product or service offering, or an offshoot of a problem with another product.

Hopefully some of these product ideas will inspire you (be sure to also follow my Pinterest board, Products I Love!) :

Problem Solved: Cell Phone Off the Floor When Charging

small_business_ideasNow this is not an expensive product, but it solves a definite problem. This cell phone holder ($8) from Solutions simply keeps your phone off the floor when you are charging it (why do they make the charger cords so short?). What would make this product better? If you could fold it up and stick in your purse to take with you.

Problem Solved: Make Brushing Teeth Fun For Kids

product idea for a small businessAnyone with kids knows how hard it is to get them to brush their teeth, so anytime you can take something that a child finds a chore and make it fun, you will have success. Tooth Paste Pete ($5) is just a cap that goes over the  toothpaste tube and makes it instantly makes bedtime a lot easier.

Problem Solved: Small Dogs (and Fat Cats) Can’t Jump


There are so many issues that small dogs as well as older dogs have, and one of them is getting up onto high beds. This portable pet step from Collections Etc. ($15) offers a simple solution. Making it available in other stylish colors would make it even better.

Problem Solved: Being Seen When Biking at Night

small business ideas productsThese LED Spokelit Bicycle Lights ($11) are a great way to increase visibility and security when biking in the dark  (still need a headlight!). Considering that cycling at night is a factor in nearly 50 percent of all cycling fatalities, it offers a solution to a very real problem.

Where to Find Product Inspiration

Look around you. What products are you dissatisfied with and why? Ask your friends, family and colleagues what types of products they are looking for and can’t find. Maybe even try reading the reviews of popular and top-selling products to see where they are missing the mark and you could possibly fill that void. 

If you need more marketing help, be sure to check out my Customized Marketing Action Plan as well as my Ebook Shop and my Services for Etsy Sellers.


How Your Online Business Can Avoid Costly Returns and Exchanges

by Gail Oliver, Small Business Marketing Consultant

A recent report from Walker Sands on the Future of Retail indicated that 64% of consumers are more likely to purchase online when the company offered free returns and exchanges.

Refund and return policy for online shopNow, if you are a small business, free returns and exchanges can be a tough offering as it does eat into your bottom line, especially when the Wall Street Journal reported in December 2013 that one-third of all Internet transactions are returned by shoppers.

So how can your small business avoid costly returns and exchanges?

1. Make Sure The Customer Completely Understands What They Are Buying

  • Highlight key product details in bullet point form
  • Include and encourage the use of size charts
  • Have photos that show close up details
  • Have photos that show perspective of size
  • Read customer reviews to understand what they are misunderstanding
  • Indicate what is not included if other items are shown in the photo i.e. lamp shade not included
  • Try to answer the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How

2. Make Your Return and Exchange Policy Clear

  • Give a limited time in which a customer can return or exchange, such as 30 days after date of purchase
  • Deduct original shipping charges from the refund unless the return is the result of your error
  • Offer free return shipping only if the customer is returning the item for store credit as opposed to a full refund
  • Indicate whether items can only be returned if they are unopened or in their original condition
  • Indicate whether gifts can be returned for refund or store credit only
  • Indicate how long it will take to receive a refund i.e. refunds will be processed 2 to 3 business days after item is received back

3. Indicate Items That Cannot Be Returned or Exchanged

  • Items that have had possible unhygienic body contact i.e. earrings, underwear, cosmetics, etc.
  • Items of a digital nature i.e. ebooks, printables, etc.
  • Items that have been personalized or customized
  • Items that have been washed or worn
  • Final sale items

With the holiday shopping season coming up, you may also want to indicate when you will be accepting and/or processing returns of holiday purchases. Most stores are so busy they won’t even entertain the idea of processing a return or exchange until after December 26th.

attentiongetting_marketing_graphicNeed More Advice for Your Small Business?

I offer a variety of affordable services especially for small businesses. Feel free to contact me about how I can help your small business, no obligation, at attentiongetting@gmail.com.



Why Mobile-Based Small Businesses Are a Hot Trend

by Gail Oliver, Small Business Marketing Consultant

A lot of businesses struggle with bringing customers to their establishment, either a physical location or online, but have you ever thought about going to them?

mobile based businessesMobile-based businesses are becoming a hot trend, and with the baby boomer generation getting older and less mobile (no pun intended), and the younger generation over taxed time-wise, we might see the return of former ways, such as the door to door salesman, doctors making house calls and the milk man.

One industry that has really proven to be successful as a mobile set-up is the hairdressing industry. Older ladies absolutely have to have their hair done once a week and getting to a salon may not be physically that easy. A hair salon on wheels provides a great alternative. How perfect would this be for the wedding and prom industries as well?

I recently spoke with a company called Ground FX Flooring, that brings their flooring showroom right to you in their mobile trailer. The benefit here is you can bring the samples right into your home to see if they work and you don’t have to drag them back to the store. Customers are more likely to make faster decisions with this type of service.

Even the online marketplace Etsy is jumping on the mobile bandwagon with a traveling airstream trailer touring this summer through various Canadian cities filled with items from local artisans.

Maybe your business don’t need to go to someone’s home, but rather an area, the way a food truck does. There are a lot of rural and remote neighborhoods that do not have access to certain types of goods and services. Going to them gives you a captive audience and no competition.

Mobile-Based Business Ideas

I’m going to throw out some of my own original ideas, so take them for what they are!

  • A mobile spa offering manicures, pedicures and massages at office parks
  • A mobile physiotherapist showing up at sports facilities
  • A mobile pharmacy showing up at retirement villages
  • A mobile beer store that shows up to campgrounds or trailer parks
  • A mobile butcher frequenting a local neighborhood in late afternoon
  • A mobile laptop and smart phone repair service making visits to college campuses

Now obviously there are certain restrictions and special licenses needed for mobile-based businesses, but it offsets the costs of paying rent.

How can you make your business mobile?

Attention-GettingNeed More Advice for Your Small Business?

I offer a variety of affordable services especially for small businesses. Feel free to contact me about how I can help your small business, no obligation, at attentiongetting@gmail.com.





Why Artisans May Want to Rethink Selling to the Low End Market

by Gail Oliver, Small Business Marketing Consultant

I have had a lot of very successful small businesses, who are technically having great success selling on popular online marketplaces, come to me and ask for advice as to why that despite this success, they are still not making money.

Screen shot 2014-07-16 at 3.57.31 PM

Here is the conundrum. When you try to sell to the low-end market (which these businesses are), you have to be able to produce significant volume in order to make any money because your profit margins are so thin. To meet this significant volume means you have to hire additional labor, which again cuts into your profit margins.

Independent artisans will always have a tough time competing in the low-end market if their products are labor-intensive, simply because they cannot afford the economies of scale needed to produce large volumes at decent profit margins the way large manufacturers can.

Case Study: The Low Priced Artisan

Take, for example, the person selling trendy knitted gloves. These gloves are aimed at the low-end fashion market and were originally selling for $25 but became such a huge fashion hit that more competition came in and drove the prices down to $15. The maker is getting tons of orders, let’s say 250 orders a day at her online shop. On the surface, that looks great. But let’s break it down a bit more.


She is grossing $3,750 a day (250 x $15). But there is no way she can make 250 pairs of gloves a day all by herself. So she needs to hire people to meet this demand. If one person can make 10 pairs gloves a day, then she needs to hire 25 people. And this is not to mention who is going to be packaging up and shipping these 250 pairs of gloves every day. So before she can pay herself, she has to pay her staff of 25. Let’s say she pays them each $125 a day, so that amounts to $3,125 ($125 x 25). Then let’s say that her material costs per pair of gloves is $1, so take off another $250. Then there is her packaging costs, which may be $.50 per pair of gloves, so take off another $125. Then there are her selling fees, which can be around 3%, so take off another $112. Then her transaction fees (credit cards/PayPal) also 3% so take off another $112. That leaves her with an overall profit of just $26 per day (and not all business expenses have not been taken into account). Obviously, this is no longer a successful business model. In fact, the irony is she actually makes more profit ($119) if she sells just 10 pairs of gloves a day.

So are artisans and indie sellers better off in the moderately priced, higher-end or luxury markets?

Case Study: The High Priced Artisan

Take the artisan, for example, who is making high-end leather bags. She charges $800 for a purse. It takes her several hours to make the purse, so most of her day. Her material costs are roughly $100. So if she sells one bag a day, she makes $800 less $100, less selling fees, packaging, etc., all pretty minimal. Therefore, she profits around $637 on the sale of one bag, in other words earning $637 for one day’s work. Not bad. If she sells only sells one bag every other day she profits $9555 a month or $114,600 a year. She has no problem meeting this quantity on her own and will never need to hire extra staff or take on more costs and she will still earn a great living and all she has to do is sell 15 bags a month.


Again, I am talking about labor-intensive products where you can only produce a few to several on your own a day.

I’m also not saying you have to go really high-priced, but you may want to consider the possibility of having two brands – a lower priced brand and a mid to higher priced brand, to tap into both markets and then decide which is more profitable for you.

Remember, you are in business to make money. If your business model isn’t working, you need to rethink it so that it does.  Otherwise you may find yourself working very hard to make little money.

Need More Advice for Running Your Small Business?

I offer a variety of affordable services especially for small businesses. Feel free to contact me about how I can help your small business, no obligation, at attentiongetting@gmail.com.


Why You Should Be Pitching Your Products to be in Holiday Gift Guides NOW

by Gail Oliver, Small Business Marketing Consultant

I had to re-run this post I ran last year, but with a few updates. As you may know, print magazines typically work about four months in advance. So, right now they are planning their December issues (which go on sale in November), and a big part of any December issue is a holiday gift guide. So if you want your products to be included, you need to be pitching them to editors now.

Screen shot 2014-07-14 at 7.48.02 PMHow to Pitch

Email is still the best way to pitch to writers and editors. Keep it short and to the point, n one has the time to read a huge pitch. Include a link to the product but do not attach photos or you will send the email into spam.

What To Include In Your Pitch

  • Specify who the potential recipients could be, such as husband, wife, daughter, boss, teacher, the fitness fanatic,
  •  Specify the type of person who would like it, such as the Fashionista, the Fitness Buff, the Geek, the New Mom, the Guy Who Has Everything, the Home Chef, etc.
  • Specify the price as a lot of gift guides are categorized as such i.e. Gifts less than $25, Gifts to blow your budget on, etc.
  • Specify if the gift gives back (part of the proceeds go to charity, shop supports third world vendors, etc.)
  • Specify where your business is. This is a growing trend this year where you will see that publications want to support locally-made, American-made or UK-made products, depending on the origins of the pub

Screen shot 2014-07-14 at 7.44.32 PMOther Holiday-Related Stories You Can Pitch Products For:

  • Decorating – Do you have products that work for holiday decor?
  • Entertaining – All those holiday parties require food, serve ware and table decor
  • Travel – The holidays are high travel times and magazines are always writing about products that make it easier
  • Fashion – Maybe your products add to the perfect outfit to wear to a holiday party, Christmas day or New Year’s Eve
  • Cards – Holiday cards, as well as invitations to parties, house warmings, etc., are obviously in big demand this time of year
  • Photos – Everyone wants that family photo for the holiday card, so it’s a great time to promote any product that will enhance the photo i.e. special outfit for new baby, Santa hat for dog, Happy Holidays sign, etc.

Holiday sales are usually the biggest of the year for most businesses, so don’t wait until the last-minute to plan for it, or you may be too late.

cover2Download My Holiday Gift Guides Media Contact List

With my Holiday Gift Guides 2014 Media Contact List ($19.95US), I have done all the work for you and identified 105 major magazines, blogs and national newspapers that publish holiday gift guides. You get the contact information, email addresses, the categories they look for, the price point they are interested in, as well as a sample pitch. Don’t wait! The deadline to pitch to magazines is end of August/early September.



Why Polyvore is a Marketing Goldmine for Ecommerce Shops … and Not Just For Fashion

by Gail Oliver

Polyvore is a social media shopping site that has been around for a while, in fact, I have been recommending it to my clients for a few years. In its origins, members would create “sets” of fashion outfits typically on a certain style or theme. These sets include links to buy the items shown directly from the online shop they appear on.

Screen shot 2014-07-07 at 1.37.44 PM

Polyvore has grown significantly since its early days and now you will see sets for every type of product – beauty, weddings, entertaining, decor, home goods, babies & kids, vintage and even local shopping.

Polyvore Marketing Tips

The target market is definitely women, as females make up 74% of the readership, and they are shoppers as their statistics show that their readers are 84% more likely to have shopped online for clothes, shoes or accessories in the last 30 days than the average online consumer.

Polyvore marketing ideas

If your products fit into one of the categories mentioned, you should definitely set up a profile on Polyvore. Like all social media, once you set up a profile (which includes a link to your ecommerce shop) you can now follow other Polyvore members, like and comment on posts, and curate your own sets. But unlike other social media, Polyvore also has an editorial staff that posts original content, and this poses further promotional opportunities for ecommerce shops.

polyvore for small business

These opportunities include the inclusion of your products in their online shop as well as having your products receive higher prominence in editorial, streaming, and set creation by others. But to take advantage of these opportunities, you need to purchase one of their native ad packages.

polyvore marketing strategy

If you simply want to add your products to Polyvore for possible inclusion in curated sets, all you have to do is add their clipper tool or Polyvore button to your tool bar and then click it for each listing you wish to add. Some top retailers like Delias and Shop Ruche, have already added a Polyvore button directly to their listings, the same way as you have a Pin It icon.

marketing on polyvore

If members create a set that includes one of your products, it can drive significant traffic to your online store due to the fact that Polyvore has over 20 million unique monthly visitors, and its sets are a staple on Pinterest and other social media.

how to sell on polyvore

There is a lot you can do with this free product exposure by creating sets that are out of the ordinary or based on trending topics (such as 4th of July above), complete with magazine style headlines and textual content. As I mentioned in last week’s post, you could create sets that solve problems customers may be having, such as “How to Create a Nautical Theme Nursery?” or “Which Products are Best for Dry Skin?“. You can even try running a contest to get your customers to create sets on your behalf, or you could collaborate with sellers of complimentary but not competing products to create sets that expose your products to their followers and vice versa.

polyvore contest

Polyvore truly combines the best of social media, blogging and ecommerce, so it is definitely a marketing tool worth utilizing.

600BlogPublicityPlan-1Want to Get Your Products Featured on Blogs and in Magazines?

I will create a detailed, do-it-yourself publicity plan for your small business with a year-long PR schedule including story pitch ideas and media contacts – all at a price you can afford. Contact me at attentiongetting@gmail.com or click here for my Marketing Services for Small Businesses




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