New business ideas: How to address niche-specific needs by building a custom social platform with an open marketplace (a project story)

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How many times did you think “I need a (new) business idea.”, “I wanna come with a fresh approach on the market, with something that has no competition and that customers need but don’t know it (yet)”

Swimming in the blue ocean is the evergreen dream of all entrepreneurs.

And for e-commerce entrepreneurs even more (since most of the time e-commerce means jumping in the red ocean and hoping for the best).

I used to talk a lot with a friend on this topic a few years ago. He had started a coaching business and constantly had the feeling he was not addressing the right niche. He didn’t want to say the same old motivational story about “sky’s the limit” and “you can do everything you want as long as you believe in yourself”. He wanted to provide support to a niche audience who needed to rely constantly on strategic and result-oriented thinking. After a while, he found his niche: performance sports. (how he found his niche is another story) And the niche felt lucky to discover his services, too. (and even if this is not an e-commerce story, it’s definitely an illustrative one for how helpful developing the right product for the right niche can be.)

I bet this is the kind of story you want to experience, too (but maybe waiting a little less longer to define your product and find your niche.)

So, if you are tired of swimming in the red waters and looking for new business ideas, you’ve just landed on the right page.

In this article I’ll focus my attention on:

  • e-commerce trends;
  • types of e-commerce solution;
  • putting in practice the blue ocean strategy: how to stand up in the e-commerce industry (a project story);
  • developing your own crypto-currency system – why & how to use it as a market differentiation;
  • when it comes to new business ideas, opportunities are unlimited. Literally!

 

E-commerce trends: how does the crowded market look like after the pandemic

I’ve just come across some statistical data (provided dedicated e-commerce reports published by MarketWatch, Payvision, Shopify, etc.) that show how the interest in e-commerce continues to grow in an accelerated way.

  • e-commerce sales are about to grow from $4.9 trillion in 2021 to $6.4 trillion in 2024 (eMarketer, 2021);
  • e-commerce penetration rates are forecast to increase from 15 percent in 2020 to 25 percent in 2025 (marketWatch, 2020);
  • 67% of young consumers tend to spend more money online than before the pandemic (Shopify, 2020);
  • extra costs, complicated check outs and mandatory accounts are the top main reasons why customers abandon the shopping process (The Baymard Institute).

Overviewing the data above, three interesting signals are revealed:

  • pandemic accelerated online commerce adoption;
  • customers are more willing to shop online (and this behavior is increasing);
  • clients are expecting custom experiences, based on their specific and contextual needs.

So, running a classical e-commerce business is no longer a reliable way of selling. Reaching the blue ocean is possible only if you choose innovative ideas to stand up on the market.

 

Types of e-commerce solution

  • e-commerce websites – you can develop performant websites (for both vendors and retailers) that efficiently simplify the sales conversion processes in order to increase visitors’ engagements with the products that respond to their interests;
  • marketplace solutions – you can bring innovation and technology on the same page by creating dynamic and intuitive marketplace platforms;
  • portals (B2B / B2C) – develop, implement, and launch e-commerce hubs that integrate custom dashboards and functionalities and transactional tools placed at users’/prospects’/clients’ fingertips;
  • SaaS for e-commerce – complete solutions that provide a series of resources so you can manage a business mostly online (software, hosting, backups, tech support, etc.);
  • analytics platforms – e-commerce solutions that help you have a quick overview of the market’s trends by presenting raw data under intuitive and synthesized forms (e.g., charts);
  • workflows automation – from the sales activities to the marketing ones, you can automate time-consuming processes and boost the impact of your actions. (push notifications, email marketing, etc.);
  • mobile solutions – by providing great UX on multiple devices and by delivering outstanding conversion tools through specific mobile apps, you increase the chances of keeping your customers engaged and satisfied;
  • custom solutions – when it comes to digital solutions, the possibilities are unlimited.

Check out our e-commerce portfolio for examples

SEE THE PORTFOLIO

 

Putting in practice the blue ocean strategy: building a custom social platform with an open marketplace and own crypto-currency (B-coins) (a project story)

Our client, Ossian, is a renowned “globetrotter” with great experience in understanding specific markets in various countries, constantly seeking opportunities to launch start-ups and monetize their online business ideas.

When Ossian first met our team, the concept he wanted to approach was very broad, concise – more in terms of idea, business direction. He wanted a different kind of social platform able to integrate a custom marketplace and specific features.

We took it as a challenge and we’re very excited about it mostly because, besides development, it involved also creativity and strategic approaches from the market perspective.

App Development Process

We first approached Roweb with a broad description of the social commerce platform we had envisioned and we were happy to find that they quickly grasped the concept and were as excited about it as we were.

Ossian Vogel

Co-founder, CEO

We combined a robust social network with a responsive online selling platform to deliver a set of intuitive, useful tools to vendors around the world:

  • Full integration of Facebook APl with the following possible actions: sign up, login, post products, and Facebook page tab application;
  • Twitter signup and login;
  • Integrated tools to increase brands’ SEO visibility and social networking website link sharing for brand marketing;
  • Possibility to join discussions within the community or establish connections with other business owners;
  • Implementation of Ezebee’s own payment system – the beecoin.

After a while, Ossian wanted to make the transition to Node.js to improve the solution’s performance, primarily on mobile devices, given its constantly increasing traffic and need for scalability and higher speed.

So, we adopted a service-oriented, RESTful, Web API architecture based on a Sails.js framework, in Node.js and the back-end relied on OrientDB (a NoSQL graph database) which enabled the use of Elastic Search. The UI was implemented in Knockout.js and we used Web Sockets to support real-time chat.

We used Braintree and PayPal APIs to allow money transfers, directly through the chat application.

We created a dynamic search system using tags’ popularity scores, preloading results, suggesting criteria to refine the search, and loading the results at a very high speed. The graph database and the tag weighting system – depending on how many products are associated with that tag – enabled faster and more flexible categorization of products.

See the platform’s functionalities

App Development Process

Working with Roweb has made it easy for us to access multiple technical skills. The team proved capable of making a smooth transition from PHP to Node.JS as Ezebee grew and we needed to scale up, and they quickly learned new skills and adapted to our requests. I would readily recommend Roweb for their innovative mindset fuelled by passion for their work and love of new challenges.

Ossian Vogel

Co-founder, CEO

 

Developing custom crypto-currency system – why & how to use it as a market differentiation

Developing a unique crypto-currency system was an idea created with the client. He was interested in testing a new way of doing transactions by providing clients access to a virtual currency: B-coins.

Using the B-coins wasn’t a mandatory paying method. It was more of an option, an alternative payment able to keep customers engaged and on the platform on long-runs.

The great advantage of B-coin was that it allowed extended interaction on the platforms, between users with different role types (vendors, sellers, etc.)

Take a look at some features we developed for payments and transactions:

  • “Chat-to-buy” system instead of “shopping carts” make transactions faster, more transparent and doesn’t require Terms and Conditions or other legal information;
  • Possibility to transfer files or money directly through the chat application;
  • B-Coins serve as gift and discount points on ezebee.com. Sellers can purchase, transfer or cash out B-coins to a PayPal account, from which they can transfer it for free to any bank account or CC.

Developing a custom crypto-currency system can be a great market differentiator if it is used in the right context. It can:

  • respond to an ongrowing customer trend (cryptocurrency);
  • increase users engagement;
  • generate loyalty;
  • increase sales;
  • help your business positioning as innovative.

Before integrating this idea in your social platform or your marketplace, consider checking out the following criteria:

  • does your platform support custom-currency-based transactions?
  • is your audience interested in using virtual currency?
  • how intuitive will the transitioning process be?
  • can the usability of the custom currency be extended later?

 

When it comes to new business ideas, opportunities are unlimited. Literally!

  • B2C / B2B e-Commerce Solutions
  • Portals
  • Marketplaces
  • All-in-one platforms
  • Social Commerce
  • Ordering & delivery platforms
  • E-learning Apps
  • Booking Systems
  • Mobile Apps (iOS & Android)

Those are generic types of e-commerce solutions. Based on these categories, you can develop as many hybrid and custom solutions as you want.

More than this, you can rely on us for outsourcing development services. From software development to web design, maintenance, outdated websites optimization, data, and content migration and integrations with 3rd-party systems – we will assign you a dedicated development team that will help your business have an outstanding online presence.

Depending on the services needed/ the complexity of your project, we make you a personalized offer together with a free evaluation (digital opportunities for your business).

GET IN TOUCH WITH US


Samples of our work


Ezebee V2

Web API Architecture, OrientDB, Web Sockets, Braintree API, PayPal API, Amazon Web Services, MySQL, jQuery, CSS3...


Love Parks

ASP.NET, SQL Server, Entity Framework, Twitter Bootstrap, Telerik UI for ASP.NET AJAX, WebAPI, SignalR, jQuery