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The pros and cons of WordPress eCommerce themes for niche markets

Multi-purpose themes are becoming a trend on ThemeForest. But how about not going with the flow?

This article follows on from the viewpoint established by Primož Cigler from ProteusThemes – a niche theme provider on ThemeForest. In his recent article for Envato Community, Primož stated that focusing on niche themes has helped them develop themes that solve solutions for each audience group, instead of developing multi-purpose themes with abundant features and design layouts. In this article, I’ll go into more detail about niche markets on WordPress and share whether I think it’s worth going niche or not.

What is a niche WordPress eCommerce theme?

First, let’s take a minute to clarify what a niche WordPress eCommerce theme is.

Unlike multi-purpose or multi-functional themes which are made to fulfill a wide variety of needs, niche WordPress themes are made to fulfill the needs of a specific category (e.g: women’s fashion, bakery, restaurant, etc.).

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In 2014, Envato has held a contest on designing niche theme named “Most Wanted: Micro Niche Themes”.

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The Restaurant – #8 in WordPress eCommerce themes, with restaurant/food niche.

Niche WordPress eCommerce market

A niche WordPress eCommerce market is exactly what it sounds like, and its size can be really big (like fashion shop, beauty store), or small (hair salon, law firm), depending on how theme providers define the size of their niche.

An unique point of this type of market is that theme providers can either develop a theme for an existing niche, or design a new niche by digging into a small corner of a current niche.

Pros and Cons of going niche

PROS

Focus on a specific audience group: Rather than having to develop a product for various audiences, going niche gives you the ability to focus on a specific part of the market. When you’re tailoring your product to a specific group of people you will have more time and resources to dig deeper into their minds, and make more valuable insights that may help make your item pop on ThemeForest. With a theme built with multiple audiences in mind, it’s harder to make them all completely happy.

A small amount of features that work in real sites: when eliminating unnecessary features, you have more time and resources to focus on developing only stable ones that are more practical for your chosen customer. Remember that an end-user probably won’t use all features of a multi-purpose theme that they’ve purchased. Doing research on the needs of your customer will ensure you develop only the features applicable to them.

Chance to be the top provider in your niche: Instead being one of many hundred in multi-purpose categories, being the #1 provider in your chosen niche (and that would be great if your niche is popular enough) helps you avoid other competitors, and perfectly fits with your target customer’s needs. Therefore, you will have more of a chance at staying on top of that niche and naturally get more sales rather than keep swimming in the sea of ultimate multi-purpose ones.

Fitness gym

FitnessGYM by madza, released in February 2014, is a #1 WordPress niche theme in the “sport” category. If this heme was in the multi-purpose category, it would have to compete with 100+ items. If it was a fashion theme in the multi-purpose category it would have to compete with 200+ items. Therefore, if it weren’t aiming directly at the “sport” market, it probably wouldn’t easily reach customers seeking a sport WordPress theme.

fitnessgym

The only competitor here of FitnessGYM is Sportexx. That means more chance for FitnessGYM to stay on top of “sport” niche market.

CONS

Low sales

The number of people seeking a niche product is far fewer than those seeking a multi-purpose one. However if you carefully choose a niche that’s popular or competitive enough, you can alleviate that problem to some extent. On ThemeForest “fashion” niche is one popular category with 225 themes and templates.

WP EC Search

You may lose a huge amount of customers

Going niche means having to miss some customers. If your niche is popular enough, you will have more chance to get more users and lose fewer ones. But if you choose the wrong niche (a niche that not many people search for), your theme may receive low sales, or even no sales at all.

Comparison: Niche WordPress eCommerce themes vs multi-purpose WordPress eCommerce themes

So what are the differences between a niche WordPress theme and a multi-purpose WordPress theme? Which one is better for your business? The below table displays characteristics of each one, including statistics from ThemeForest – top-notch marketplace for WordPress themes.

Criteria Niche WordPress eCommerce theme Multi-purpose WordPress eCommerce theme
Market size Small but focused

(multiple niches with total items around 250/500 themes)

Big but maybe unfocused

(211/500 themes)

Best matched audience Shop owner

One theme for their specific business industry

Freelancer/Agency

One theme for different projects, with various industries

Functionalities All features are made to work for the niche Some features won’t be relevant to particular niche

=> maybe waste of money

Audience interest a single niche various niches
Value High (for only one niche)

$59

Low (can be used for various niches)

$59

Average sales

(on Themeforest)

440 sales/item (average for all niches) High

480 sales/item

Time taken to construct a full website Faster, less problems Maybe slower and has problems

(All statistics are calculated on Feb 18 2016)

From the above table, we can clearly see that the market size for a niche WordPress eCommerce theme is much smaller than that of a multi-purpose theme. Niche themes are best suited for end-users, who are searching for a theme that can help them build their online shop easily without much customization or design. Multi-purpose ones, therefore, are ‘too much’ for them. There might be features that they don’t actually need, or are too complicated to personalize versus niche ones.

Popular niches

Here are 4 most popular niches on WordPress eCommerce themes category.

Niche Number of items Average sales
Fashion 222 180 sales/item
Furniture 60 281 sales/item
Food 28 1000 sales/item
Book/e-book 6 362 sales/item

(All statistics are calculated on February 18 2016)

Popular niche themes

ZORKA – Wonderful Fashion WooCommerce theme

Staying on best-selling WordPress fashion theme list, ZORKA is known for its 11+ unique homepage layouts as well as clean and modern elements for an online fashion store. This theme has been available on ThemeForest since May 2015 by G5Theme, and up has currently received 701 sales with an average rating of 4.57/5.

ZORKA

ZORKA – Wonderful Fashion WooCommerce theme

Soffa – Furniture and business WordPress theme

Soffa is a top niche WordPress theme on “furniture” category. This theme was released on June 2014 by tokopress, and still being popular on ThemeForest until now with latest update on January 2016.

Furniture

Soffa – Furniture and business WordPress theme

Soffa provides a minimal design with essential pages for an online furniture store, like pricing table, portfolio, etc. This theme has received 280 sales and average rating is 4.7/5.
Soffa

Multi-purpose themes with niche designs

A multi-niche theme, or a multi-purpose theme with niche designs, is an ultimate WordPress theme package, with many niche themes that can fulfill the needs of audiences from many niches. With each niche in this package, users can do instant setup and run their own online shop without having to choose design layout or customize as much as they usually have to with your average multi-purpose theme.

With this package, theme providers can get more sales both from general buyers who search for a multi-purpose theme, as well as from niche buyers who want to purchase a niche theme.

X by Themeco is a multi-purpose WordPress theme with niche designs. These niche designs have been recently developed along with updated main demos.

X Theme

X by Themeco is a multi-purpose theme with various niches (total 5 niche up ‘til now)

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You can view X’s expanded demos by visiting X’s landing page, clicking on “demos” > “expanded demos”

The downside to trying to create a package like this is that you need huge resources, budget, time, market research, and personnel to develop niche layouts.

For providers who want to dig deeper into this theme, here are 3 simple tips that should help you successfully release your product on ThemeForest:

  • Clearly research the niches you are going to develop for. Do not develop for all niches on the market as it’s a waste of time, and some of them are actually pretty useless in real life.
  • Build an MVP: With each niche, make sure that you include all the basic features of that niche. Advanced features and designs are for further updates.
  • Include both multi-purpose-related tags (multipurpose, multi-purpose) and niche-related tags (e.g: fashion, women)

This is also what we are working hard to do – a multi-niche WordPress solution for each eCommerce niche. If you are interested in this topic, or want to be first one to experience Nitro, please leave your email here.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, choosing a niche theme or a multi-purpose theme is a matter of choosing your audience. On the one hand, if you want to cover a specific audience group without having to compete with too many competitors, a niche theme is the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you want to get high sales or broaden your audience size, the trending multi-purpose category is still worth considering.

Have you ever built a niche theme, or want to find a niche theme for your store? We’d love to hear your opinion on this topic.

Extra information for niche theme lovers

For those who are developing niche themes, or simply want to try with these new markets, Envato is running a contest for you “Most Wanted: Business Themes We Don’t Have Yet”, with up to $10,000 in prize money. For more details on how to submit your work for this contest, please click HERE.

References

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WooRockets

We are exploring eCommerce Design solutions to help online shop owners boost up conversions and revenue. This research is for Nitro — our upcoming WooCommerce theme.

Find WooRockets on ThemeForest, Dribbble or Twitter


This article was originally published on community.envato.com by WooRockets.


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