I've posted about these before but I wasn't sure what they were called.
Having done a bit more research I realise they're called aggregator sites.
What's an aggregator site?
Basically these collect products from all over the web and display them for customers. They're kind of closely related to product comparison sites. But aggregators are usually more focussed on physical products (e.g. shoes) or content like news stories, whereas comparison sites often go for intangibles like insurance and holidays.
I've done a bit of research on these and if you want an interesting read then check out Side Hustle Nation for the low down on the rise and fall of shoe aggregator site ShoeSniper. tl;dr - this site got started by a dude, it made a lot of money for a while, then it made less money, then he gave up.
Shoesniper looks (or rather, looked) kind of neat, and is fairly similar to what I was planning to do on shouldibuytheseshoes. However I would emphasise choice of product over price comparisons. I figure if a lady MUST HAVE those shoes she's not going to worry about how much they cost.
And that cuts out most of the hard coding requirements by culling the need for complex product matching code.
You see, building a database of products is easy. Building a database of the same products sourced from different retailers, now that is hard!
I think that there is still good money to be made with these kinds of sites. However, the big boys have thrown big money at the super profitable niches like insurance and travel, so make sure you avoid these. Niche down into things like shopping, or go for expensive items where people really want hand holding and you can add value by providing expert advice.
Where these sites put a lot of people off as well is that they require a fair bit of programming expertise. But if you know a bit of PHP, C# or Python then they're an excellent way to build up your programming experience.
Just start off small and make incremental changes, which is what I do with sites like the Niche Laboratory and elsewhere.
At the same time also have a bit of an idea of where you might want to take the site in future.
Where sites like Shoe Sniper have run into troubles is that the developers have kind of lacked the long term visionary approach.
One other tip - as well as discovering new niches you might also discover new business models. As a software developer I've had a lot of interviews at niche software companies that have made shopping type products for other companies.
Inventory management, pricing control and other things are BIG business.
Imagine if you made an app that scanned every shopping site in the world and gave business intelligence on outdoor furniture prices. That data could be pretty valuable!
Good luck and if you have any comments or questions about aggregator sites, post them in this thread.
More threads for you to read and post comments on.
Love Facts and Figures? Here's some data about Niche Laboratory usage.