Will your niche product survive the next I/O, WWDC or F8 event?
Is your business established around affiliate programs, price comparisons and or generally bootstrapping an E-commerce solution for niche products, say a simple boutique trying to sell seasonal cool T-shirts? Or maybe you are a location-based food ordering portal or a news curator website, the list is endless on the possibilities of what you can start your business around.
Now in most cases, you'll realize that, as creatives, we wanna innovate but at the same time offer simple but elegant solutions that will surely make your customers' life easier or better or simply more efficient.
Here is a perfect example, your business is built around customer reviews, so that you easily offer a quick overview of what people like to buy based on their take on a product or maybe you've built an E-commerce Marketplace with a focus on customer product experience, meaning you value the store reviews.
These are really cool, and in one way or another creative solutions to build your business around, and it's always all fun and business till the tech giants literally replace your services. Before we go deep into this critical topic, for the sake of those who have no idea what Google I/O, Apple WWDC and or Facebook F8 is, let's get a quick overview.
What is Google I/O, Apple WWDC and Facebook F8?
Google I/O is an annual developer conference held by Google and was inaugurated in 2008. "I/O" stands for input/output, as well as the slogan "Innovation in the Open". This is where Google unveils all the latest tools and features, across its platforms, from the latest software updates to AI and AR tools. I/O brings together developers from around the globe for talks, hands-on learning with Google experts, and a first look at Google’s latest developer products.
This is a similar event as I/O but is hosted by Apple. And on this event, Apple gets to release the new WatchOS, iOS, MacOS and TvOS updates and in some instances get to release new products or apps.
And the same is similar to Facebook's F8, an annual conference held by Facebook. This generally is where Facebook announces and releases the latest innovative tools on its platform(s) and is intended for developers and entrepreneurs who build products and services around the Facebook as a platform.
Okay, now that you know what these events are all about [sorta], let's get back to the real conversation, because, sometimes, the easiest way to wrap your head around new information is to see how it would directly affect you.
Scene I - I/O
At I/O19, Google announced various new tools and features but for this post we are going to look into the Google Search features, computer vision and augmented reality (AR) as a tool to overlay information and content.
With the new (AR) features in Google Search, one can view and interact with 3D objects right from Search and place them directly into their physical space, giving them a sense of scale and detail. For example, say you sell house furniture, and one unique thing about your product shopping experience, is that you allow your customers to see how the item would fit into their current living-space setup by using (AR) to place the item virtually in their physical locations.
This being such cool feature of your shopping experience, you managed to attract a handful of customers based on this niche offering. Suddenly Google introduces this feature right at the search result and so when a user searches for an item, they’ll get an option right in the Knowledge Panel to view it in 3D and AR, meaning that any other furniture retailer out there can take advantage of this feature which was once only unique to your offering.
Scene II - F8
In the very near future you will be able to buy products from your favorite instagram influencers. This is a feature Instagram is currently testing to have a dedicated shopping tag that will let any influencer, artist, or celebrity tag an article of clothing they’re wearing so followers can buy that item without ever leaving the Instagram app.
You must be familiar with all online apparel stores always using Instagram to showcase their products via look-books. Try to imagine a situation where instead of having to get back to the seller's online store, you can simply sell directly to your followers.
And what if your business was generally based around LookBooks?
Scene III - WWDC
With the new iOS13, announce at WWDC19, Apple introduced a new "sign in with Apple" option that won't share your personal data. You can choose which data to share, and if you'd like to hide your email, Apple will create a random address that forwards to yours so you can receive information without giving out your email address.
Now, if your business is based on offering secured passwords as a service and or one anonymous secure sign-in option for all the platforms, then this is something that would get you scratching your head for a moment.
And now, for the big moment...
How do I get around all these new amazing features and keep my product as relevant?
For some of these new features, you simply can't get around them, mainly because the tech giants are really good at what they do, and they have also invested a huge amount of funds and time in the research and implementation.
The good news is, you can get around some of them or by simply embracing the features
Take for instance Google Shopping, which allows retailers to sell products to the shoppers directly from the Google Search Results, meaning one can checkout items through Google without having to visit the retailer's website. In such an instance, the best way to make sure you take advantage of this cool feature, is by ensuring that your product listings qualify to be listed and checked out directly via the Google Search Results and by also integrating with Google Pay for a quick checkout process.
Now to our second example.
Due to the fact that Uber services are really good, and quite reliable, they partnered with Google Maps so that when one searches for a location on Google, they also get a quick suggestion on how much it would cost on an Uber ride or how long the ride would be, with an action button to hail an Uber. In one way, Google Maps could decide to to simply have their own taxi services within the map, but since Uber already does the service really well, they added them as a feature within the Maps.
Take away: You can ensure that Google loves your product by being in their Good Side. Simply ensure that your tool/product plays along with all the possible optimizations and ease of access and use.
And finally, maybe you are the new Fin-tech startup in town, and you've opted for a very niche solution, you know, to stay relevant. But then in the next 2 or 3 months, you get to meet Stripe, they have been in business for a while and maybe they already have your feature implemented and tested in their system, the only hope you are clinging to, is the fact that, they aren't in your locale, just yet.