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Top 5 Industries to Start an Online Business in 2018

It’s a New Year and it’s time for a “New You”! Start your own online business in 2018 in one of these top trending industries.

By: Catherine Perry

As we enter into a brand new year, our thoughts once again turn to new beginnings. For most of us, we begin the process of assessing the passing year and creating new goals for the new year.  As you consider 2018 both personally and professionally, you may find yourself thinking about making a change in your career. Because what you do professionally also has ramifications that spill over into your personal life–and because becoming your own boss can change your life in awesome ways–we suggest you consider becoming your own boss by owning an online business.
Owning an online business provides you with flexibility of time and location as well as the satisfaction of directing your future in ways that other jobs don’t.  As an ecommerce owner, you are participating in a segment of business—ecommerce–that is experiencing tremendous growth, and the below statistics show the projected growth in the years to come.
  • In Forrester Research’s latest report, “Forrester Data: Online Retail Forecast, 2017 to 2022,” they write that “ecommerce will account for 17% of retail sales by 2022, up from a projected 12.9% in 2017.” The author, Forrester’s analyst Susan Wu writes that “online growth is far outpacing offline growth.”
  • According to, based on their research and using as a source, “retail ecommerce sales will increase to $4.058 trillion in 2020, making up 14.6% of total retail spending.”  Their projections for total retail sales are $22.737 trillion by the end of 2017, which is up 5.8% from 2016.
These numbers simply show that the online marketplace continues to be strong and growing for the future. As lives get busier, people are turning to ecommerce as a convenient solution to many needs. Any business that has a strong demand in our culture lends itself to a strong digital marketplace.
When you are looking at ecommerce businesses, you will find there are many industries– with many niche markets–from which to choose. It can be a bit overwhelming, we admit! So, we thought our annual list of the industries that are showing strong and growing revenue numbers might help give you some direction. This year, however, we are highlighting the top five general industry categories that you can look at for strong growth going forward into 2018 and beyond. Within these categories there are many niche markets (too many to discuss fully) that are excellent choices for online businesses! (Please note that these are in no particular order.)
Our 5 online industry categories are:
  • Health, Fitness and Wellness
  • House and Home
  • Outdoor Recreation
  • Pets
  • Babies and Children

Health, Fitness and Wellness

A great thing has happened…health and wellness is at the forefront of people’s minds! And, consumer spending shows it. According to the wellness industry is “one of the world’s largest and fastest growing industries, with an estimated global worth of $3.7 trillion and double-digit annual growth across all wellness sectors since 2010.”
Online resources and social media have been drivers in the growth of this market with many experts and online apps available for advice and guidance. There are multitudes of online health and fitness forums and nearly 8,000 fitness apps available online. Clearly, people are turning to online as a huge source of information and products in this industry.
These niche markets are included in the health, fitness and wellness industry:
  • healthy eating
  • nutrition
  • weight loss
  • yoga
  • exercise
Within these niche markets there are many avenues–everything from foods, equipment, accessories and apparel are great markets for online businesses in the health and fitness industry.

House and Home

Staying at home is a trend. Who would’ve thought that staying home for a weekend, eating in and entertaining friends and family would become so popular?! But, it is. Again, the busier life gets the more people want to stay home and renew themselves. They can get everything they need online so why go anywhere?! With this, people are more interested in having their houses reflect their own tastes and really be places of respite and comfort. So the house and home industry is flourishing—especially the online options. Within this general industry you find these niche markets:
  • Home Décor
  • Furniture
  • Housewares
  • Outdoor Living


Just as we reported last year, home decorating through online shopping is a very strong market! We continue to see shopping online for furniture in many styles—vintage, contemporary, modern, industrial—especially, with the millennial generation. “In a furniture market that is growing at a rate of 2.9% annually, e-commerce sales are expected to double, from $15 billion in 2012 to $32 billion by 2018.” According to eMarketer, “E-commerce accounted for 21% of total furniture sales in 2014, and it is forecast to grow to 30% by 2018.”

Home Décor

Shopping online for Home Décor is big. Think about it…who can turn down sitting on the sofa or lying in bed shopping for accessories that make your house a home with your own personality throughout? The Home Décor industry includes as many niche markets as there are styles. You can find wall art, lamps, lighting, pillows, rugs, bedding, window treatments—and the list goes on—in any style with any kind of particular flair.


This year we have added the Housewares niche market with the home décor market based on our research. In Forrester Research’s article “Online Retail Forecast, 2017 to 2022,” according to Forrester’s senior analyst Susan Wu, “By 2022 housewares will replace computers as the third-largest product category, with almost half of this spending occurring online. Housewares and home furnishings retailers had $14.70 billion in online sales in 2016, accounting for 13.5% of overall sales in the category, up from 11% in 2015.”
Included in housewares are:
  • Kitchen gadgets
  • Dishes
  • Glassware
  • Cooking utensils

Outdoor Living

In the same way that people are creating the “inside” of their homes, they are also investing in outdoor living whether it is on their balconies, patios, back and front yards, or whatever space they have available. There is nothing like some “alfresco” dining or relaxing by a fire pit! The Outdoor Living is a strong niche market for an online business.
In their April, 2017 article on outdoor trends, reported that the number 1 trend of 2017 was creating a “seamless transition from your home to your outdoor space….” Decorative items that bring the indoors to the outdoors on porches and in yards is very popular as an online niche market. Rugs, ottomans, tables, wall art, pillows and blankets for the outdoor spaces have gained traction in a big way, and this trend won’t be disappearing in the near future!


Our research tells us that the online market for pets is continuing to be a strong one going forward. Our affinity and love for our canine and feline family members has created a retail market that is still number one. According to the article “Ecommerce is Expected to Grow to 17% of US Retail Sales by 2022” written by Matt Lindner in August 2017, “The fastest online category growth will continue to come from the pet category.” As of April, 2017 it was reported by that “Spending in the American pet market as a whole is projected to reach nearly $70 billion in 2017—almost double what it was a little over a decade ago, according to the American Pet Product Association.” It is difficult to argue these numbers! Consider a niche market in the Pets industry. This industry includes all things for pets—food, supplies, toys, accessories, and apparel.

Outdoor Recreation

Outdoor Recreation plays a significant role in American lives. Because the need for work-life balance has become more of a focus, outdoor recreation has become a strong retail market. We are even more keenly aware of the benefits that being outside and recreating can give us as our daily lives become increasingly busy. Outdoor recreation provides wellbeing, helps develop lifelong skills, inspires wonder and awe of the natural world and provides an alternative to daily routines. According to an article written by the Outdoor Industry Association, “more than 140 million Americans make outdoor recreation a priority in their daily lives, proving it with their wallets by putting $646 billion of their hard-earned dollars right back into the economy.”
At the core of the outdoor recreation economy is the outdoor consumer, whose diverse interests fuel a robust and innovative industry. They fill their garages with bicycles, dirt bikes, backpacks, boats, skis, tents, hunting rifles and fishing gear. Americans spend more on bicycling gear and trips ($81 billion) than they do on airplane tickets and fees ($51 billion).
Another resource tells us that an estimated 13 million U.S. households planned to camp more in 2017 than they did in 2016, and more than 1 million new households have started camping each year since 2017. Millennials are driving the growth as they are enjoying the outdoors in greater numbers and are using camping to add more balance to their lives.
Niche markets for outdoor recreation include accessories and equipment for:
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Boating
  • Winter sports like skiing and snowboarding
  • Hunting and fishing

Baby and Children

With over 4 million babies being born in the U.S. alone, there is a huge market for babies and children online shopping. According, in their industry trends research, “The Online Baby Product Sales industry, which retails goods for infants and toddlers such as furniture, toys, strollers, formula, apparel and diapers over the internet, has expanded rapidly over the past five years, along with the overall e-commerce sector.” And this expansion doesn’t stop as they grow into toddlers, “pre-schoolers” and beyond.
Niche markets for infants, toddlers, and children include
  • Furniture and Home Décor for Their Play Spaces and Rooms
  • Clothes
  • Toys


Based on research in their report “Global Online Children’s Apparel Market 2016-2020, analysts forecast the global online children’s apparel market to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 8.76% during the period 2016-2020. And, this is just clothing for children aged zero months to 14 years including outerwear, undergarments, sleepwear, socks, and tights. It also includes infant wear for up to 12 months, toddler wear from one to three years, and kids’ wear for children ages 3 to 10 years.


The toy market for babies and children is a huge retail market, both online and brick and mortar. Everything from educational toys, dolls, arts and crafts, games and electronics report strong numbers.  Last year in our report of top online industries, we highlighted the educational toy market and that market is still a very strong one this year. Parents want their children to have opportunities to learn while they are playing. Toys and products that provide a practical education experience are in strong demand. There is no question that the educational products and toys ecommerce market will continue to grow in the years to come.
Whew! Have we given you some ideas of online businesses you could own and enjoy? As research indicates, everyone is shopping more online. Most anything that appeals to the large pockets of population like Millennials, Gen-Xers, and Baby Boomers has the potential of being strong niche markets for online retail. As we said at the beginning, we have highlighted 5 very strong general retail industry categories with many niche markets within them. Look at the growth opportunities and then think about what you are interested in. You are only limited by your imagination.
To get ideas and options, we suggest you take a look at Pure-Ecommerce’s options for both ready-made internet business and custom websites. Become an ecommerce owner and make your 2018 full of new beginnings and opportunities! Do you have questions about these industries or on how to start an online business, post below, we’d love to hear from you.

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