Forward Fortnightly Archive: The power of niching down

September 16, 2021

In this article, we’re digging into niches and platform plays. 

If you’re building a business, consider whether building a traditional ‘pipeline’ model can bring sustainable growth. Over the last decade, platforms have dominated many traditional markets because they have the ability to scale faster, dominating adjacent verticals and expanding geographically with relative ease. 

Are you building a pipe or a platform? 

Sure, building a business with a platform model could hold great growth potential but how difficult is it to get started? Dig into this article from Sangeet Paul Choudary on pipes vs platforms - and why business models fail. He outlines the challenges faced by platform builders - and solutions to finding your first customers (the classic chicken and egg problem); ensuring each side delivers value in the transaction and figuring out whether you’re really making money (hint: you need a systems view of your business).

But can I really compete against Amazon?

In short, yes you can. Though many of the big B2C opportunities are dominated by players like Amazon and eBay, there’s plenty of opportunities left to be found. The key is in specificity. Unbundling is the art of addressing a specific vertical within a platform and creating better user experiences. Dig into it here

Need inspiration? Take Boxed, a membership-free wholesale retailer that offers direct delivery of bulk-sized packages. But how did they compete with monster retailers? They offered fewer items, with competitive prices and doubled down on the detail, with hand-written notes in every box. Hear about their story and CEO, Chieh Huang on the How I Built This Podcast.

Platform or marketplace? 

As Michelle Vautier outlines, it’s a deceptively simple question that many e-commerce companies struggle to answer. Dig into this excellent article to get a better understanding of each model, which would suit your customers and your growth model. 

We’ve talked about specificity today. Now have a read on how Uber’s hyperlocal approach allowed them to dominate a market at a time. Listen to the Leading Edge Forum’s podcast on Platforms and Ecosystems as they discuss how organisations are unbundling and rebuilding their offers on the other side of the COVID-19 shock. Then have a read through this white paper from PWC on how B2B platforms are revolutionising industry supply chains by tackling very specific problems.

Need a real-life example? Have a look at Plentific - who are solving big problems in complex value chains for landlords.  

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September 16, 2021