A strange thing is happening to the online dog show suppliers, Cherrybrook: this niche e-retailer is showing strong signs of dominating their market online.
In the past three months, they have jumped ranking position by over 50,000 places according to website statistics specialist, Alexa. Site traffic watchdog (yes, another opening pun, we can’t help ourselves!), Compete, shows that this year alone, website unique visitor numbers have grown 146% to average 44,807 per month this year so far.
In the past three months, Alexa reports that, on average, visitors are staying on the site longer, and reading more webpages. The number of website visitors who arrive and leave immediately (the site’s bounce rate) has also fallen.
Through a combination of product-related SEO, smart partnerships with well-known brands, and by using some of the key eCommerce strategies that build customer engagement and provide shopper’s with a sense of trust, Cherrybrook has begun to truly own it’s niche market online, often appearing higher than Amazon and all other competition for keywords and branded products related to the niche. We look at how Cherrybrook has positioned itself online and share useful tips that other online retailers can use.
One of the delights of online shopping is the sense of exploration and discovery that site visitors experience. In the desperate rush to let our customers know we probably have what they are looking for, we forget that what they really want is the sense of pride and reward they gain when they find it for themselves.
Cherrybrook seems to know this, and while having clear product categories displayed from the get go, they have minimized the use of feature sliders, instead opting for one key seasonal promotion “above the fold” on their website homepage.
Cherrybrook aren’t going after the whole pet product niche: they have carved out a sub-niche that is a big enough market in itself and have been able to dominate that without having the most flash website design out there. They are primarily a dog show product supplier, although you can imagine this extends to appealing to any dog owner who has a special appreciation for pedigrees, or to dog owners who are looking to give that extra TLC to man’s (and often woman’s) best friend.
At every turn, the Cherrybrook website remains focused on this market, they have obviously mapped out what products and information their customers need. For example, pet travel is included, as many dog owners will need to take their animals on the road to participate in dog shows.
Being clear about your niche lets you have a little fun as well: The search button on the home page is playfully labelled “Fetch”!
The Cherrybrook owners have attended over 200 dog shows, and are regular fixtures at dog show events, operating a mobile trading booth. No doubt, this was also a great way for them to gain a deeper insight into their customer needs.
Cherrybrook helps shoppers feel confident with their buying decisions by using social proof to confirm “you are not alone”. They do this by having a recommendation section on each product page, showing what other products shoppers are buying. This serves two purposes: it helps validate a shoppers choice via social norms (“you made a good choice, others are buying this too”) and second of all, encourages shoppers to keep adding to their cart (“here’s what others are buying to go with this product”).
Cherrybrook provides a search box on the home page and an “advanced product filter”, with menu options to filter results. It’s a bit similar to using the product category tabs at the top of the page, but lets shoppers feel more in control and allows shoppers to focus quickly on the products they are most likely to purchase.
One of the reasons for the success of Cherrybrook’s Google ranking position for many product items in the pet dog niche is no doubt due to the way they have structured their product catalog to include the full branded name of each product in the catalog title description. While it is important to appeal to broad categories of products, if someone is searching for a specific product name, chances are they are ready to buy and searching online for where to buy it. By using the full product name in their product catalogs, Cherrybrook are appearing higher in search engine results, and need to do much less to convert searchers into shoppers.
Cherrybrook have two main supplier arrangements. One with Chris Christensen, apparently well-known in dog show circles, and the American Kennel Club (AKC). Both are given pride-of-place on the website and branded appropriately. These are clever relationships to build: being associated with the AKC name lends trust and confidence to Cherrybrook, while the business is also able to show its support for the key consumer organization in the niche. With supplier Chris Christensen, Cherrybrook is able to piggyback of the supplier’s own audience. Searches for Chris Christensen products in Google, for example, return Cherrybrook results high in the rankings.
Cherrybrook use a custom eCommerce platform, according to the footer on their home page. This gives them the flexibility to build out on their own, incorporating tools like the advanced product search and recommendation engines. Inhouse developers do not mean a slow and clunky website. According to Alexa, Cherrybrook’s webpages only take 1.89 seconds to load.
Cherrybrook uses a technique we have seen previously with best eCommerce website BaubleBar. The site is able to recognize new visitors and after a couple of seconds shows a pop-up offer to subscribe to the site’s newsletter. Special discounts are mentioned as an enticement to encourage newsletter signups.
In addition to the product names mentioned above (in point 6), Cherrybrook makes sure each product page and category is also optimized for key search terms. For example, Cherrybrook ranks highly for the branded product range from ‘Hear Doggy’ as well as topping the rankings for ‘toys only dogs can hear’.
One of the top menu items on the Cherrybrook site is a dog show calendar reference page. This gives potential customers a reason to visit the website regularly as a reference tool as well as an eCommerce storefront. It also builds goodwill between the retailer and their community by providing a free service that is of key value to the community.
Cherrybrook employs a wide range of trust signals throughout their website. No matter where you are on a page, you can always see at least one trust signal that aims to remind you that they are a respectable business you can buy from online. This includes:
Cherrybrook are an outstanding example of a niche online retailer who has been able to corner their market in the US. You can set high goals for yourself in your niche and can work to dominate your market. Your business may grow gradually – it may take several years like it did for Cherrybrook – but along the way you will be implementing effective online retail strategies that continue to grow your business and sales revenue. Keep a clear idea about who your target market is and do not try to be too many things to too many people. Focus your energy on your chosen niche: search engine optimization; search market advertising; online interaction; and maintaining lifetime customer loyalty are the key strategies to perfect in your chosen niche, and you will be barking up the right tree.
Tagged Cherrybrook, customer research, drop shipping, niche markets, online product catalogs, product catalogs, product recommendations, product search, recommendation engines, SEO, supplier partnerships, trust signals
What a nice surprise! I am Roy Loomis co-owner of Cherrybrook along with my wife Claudia Loomis. We have worked hard to make our website functional and user friendly over the last several years. Mark – thank you for taking the time to notice us and produce such a thorough article. Without even contacting us you were able to capture our essence.
Good post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon every day.
It will always be helpful to read through content from other writers and practice a little something
from their web sites.