From the Variety Store Model to Rapid Niche Success

by Lisa Suttora on May 6, 2010

I had just put the finishing touches on the first blog post in my new blog series Want to Have Success Online? Find a Niche and FOCUS! when I heard that Wai Hong Fong owner of OZHut Stores and one of my 2008 Business Growth Group members had just made the prestigious Smart Company 2010 “Hot 30 Under 30″ List!

First, I want to congratulate Wai Hong and his team!

This is a great example of how vision and a niche focus led to success.

Landing on Smart Company’s Hot 30 Under 30 list is no small feat. Smart Company is Australia’s leading online business site with news, information and resources site for Australia’s entrepreneurs, small and medium business owners, and business managers. Each year they publish a list of the hottest and most successful up and coming entrepreneurial businesses in Australia.

And this is a pretty amazing list when you look at the demographics:

  • The entrepreneurs had to be 30 years of age and under
  • Their business had to have at least $1 million in annual sales
  • This year’s recognized business owners have $100 million in combined revenue
  • They employ well over 600 people
  • On average, their start up costs were under $100,000 and in most cases their companies have been in operation for less than five years

What makes this story even more remarkable is that Wai Hong started selling on eBay Australia just under 3 years ago and today owns a business that boasts ten niche websites with projected revenues of  $1.5 million dollars this year!

And that’s why OZHut is the first case study in the Want to Have Success Online? Find a Niche and FOCUS! series, because it all started with a niche.

When Wai Hong Fong first became a member of my 2008 Business Growth Group, he had just completed our exclusive Holistic Business Review on his up and coming business. At the time, he was working with a relative on the business, and when they went on vacation for a month, Wai Hong was in charge of the store. He had a big vision for the business, but didn’t have the clarity as to how it would all happen.  The Holistic Business Review provided him with the organization, clarity and next steps to expand his business online.

OZHut started on eBay, like a lot of online sellers do, selling a variety of different products. The “variety store” model was working for OZHut, they were successful on eBay – but it soon became apparent that some product lines were making money and some were not. Some were easier to sell and ship and some were not. Certain items had a higher rate of return and others had a low return rate.

If you sell in the variety store model, you’ll find that your results are the same.

Wai Hong had already been thinking in terms of starting a niche websites. But with several successful products, the question was – which one to monetize on a niche site first?

The first thing I recommended he look at was which of his products on eBay were the most successful? Which had the highest profit margin? Which were the easiest to source, stock, ship and sell? Which products would lend themselves best to a niche website?

Wai Hong  immediately went to work to identify the right product line for a niche site and shortly thereafter, OzScopes was born.

Today, OZScopes is Australia’s leading niche telescope store. And after cementing that niche success and systematizing the process, Wai Hong went to work to build the next niche site.

Today the OZHut network of niche stores consists of ten niche sites, each focused on a separate niche. From the telescope niche to the baby pram niche, to a niche gadget store, Wai Hong Fong and his team focus on one thing – creating success one niche at a time.

When interviewed on his niche strategy for the Hot 30 Under 30 List, this successful 24 year old entrepreneur said:

“While others are seeking to build large online departmental stores, we’ve found that focusing on specific product niches via dedicated stores allows us greater SEO and online marketing leverage to create a strong presence in those markets,” he says

It all gets back to the 7 Reasons to Find a Niche and FOCUS. Had Wai Hong tried to build a department store site, he would not have realized success as quickly, clearly or definitively.

However by  focusing on a profitable niche he was able to:

1. Become a destination site in a niche

2. Know his market

3. Source the products his niche customers want

4. Clearly brand the business

5. Maximize his advertising  resources

6. Build a site that Google likes

7. Leverage his time and resources, and take actions specifically focused on niche success

Start With ONE Niche, Then Lather, Rinse and Repeat

It’s important to note that while Wai Hong Fong and OZHut stores have achieved massive niche success with sites in ten different niches, he didn’t build them all at the same time.

If he’d attempted to build all ten at once, spreading 10% of his efforts across each of his 10 sites, he’d still be trying to get the first one off the ground.

Instead he started with one niche site and a sole goal of making that niche site profitable.  It was only when that site was up, running and profitable that he turned his sites to the next niche.

How about you? Are you trying to build a business in multiple sites simultaneously?

If so it’s time to pick the most profitable one or the one with the most potential and put your energies into that site. Put the other one on the back burner for now.  Once the first site is up, running and generating a steady income, then you can focus on the next site.

Coming up next in the Want to Have Success Online? Find a Niche and FOCUS series find out how having an expertise in one niche can be monetized several different ways.

-Lisa

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Terry Young May 6, 2010 at 5:34 pm

When I click on the RSS button on this blog I get an XML document and the following error message: “This XML file does not appear to have any style information associated with it. The document tree is shown below.” It does not go to Google Reader or any other normal RSS destination. In other words the RSS feed is not working correctly.

Terry Young
Journey To Tomorrow

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2 bedding for kids May 6, 2010 at 7:44 pm

You know I always follow you Lisa.. great post.. this helps to keep me focused. He is amazing what he has accomplished!

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3 Nathan Huppatz May 6, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Lisa,

It’s great to read your article about Wai Hong. I have known him for some time in a personal and business capacity, and I think the key to this strategy working was really to have clear goals, and good planning. and above all, good solid processes.

I think you are absolutely right here : “If he’d attempted to build all ten at once, spreading 10% of his efforts across each of his 10 sites, he’d still be trying to get the first one off the ground.”

I have seen lots of businesses spread themselves too thin, taking on too many things at once (I have been guilty of it myself!).

People like Wai Hong will be a force to be reckoned with in the online retail space! Great article.

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4 carol May 7, 2010 at 7:59 am

Great information, Lisa!

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5 Rod Sartwell May 7, 2010 at 12:39 pm

As usual, you have come up with not only the “answer” but also the “rational” to make it work!!
Thanks, Rod

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6 George Nieves May 9, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Hi Lisa,

This blog series of yours sure helps in being focused in your business. Thank you!

Best regards,
George Nieves

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