Everything to know about Vertical and Horizontal Retail Markets


As more and more people are making the digital shift, companies are putting in more effort to understand the market and the evolving demand of customers. They are striving hard to reach out to the majority of customers. They are studying customer personas, behaviours, demand, etc.

Businesses are trying to accumulate as much information as possible about customers so that they can figure out which products and brands would suit their tastes and lifestyle. This will even help them to customize their marketing strategies and reach out to more customers. It is all about the right research. In today’s world, customers prefer everything to be customized for them. If you think that your one advertisement will reach out to the mass, then you are quite mistaken. In today’s world, everything is evolving with time and demand; and so is marketing. Customers want to look at trending and engaging content.

In this context, you have to know what a horizontal and a vertical market are. This way, you would be able to choose which market best suits your product type and goals.

Horizontal Market

If the products you are offering in the market are appealing to a huge mass, then you are in the horizontal eCommerce business. They range across various categories and geographical locations, which means, their offerings are not limited to a particular set of customers or groups.

In order to make it easier for you to understand – let us provide the example of Amazon.

 It caters to people and their needs beyond boundaries. Right from necessities, such as books and stationery, groceries, to electronics, clothing, and luxury items, Amazon appeals to a wide array of customers.

In the horizontal eCommerce market, Amazon is the most established brand, which offers a lot of products and that too, at the best possible prices. It can be said that Amazon leads in the horizontal eCommerce business.

This is the business type where customers look for a single store to feed all their needs. If you own a business in this model, then you must entice your customers by convenience. They can avail everything on one site and what can be more convenient than the same?

If a person wants to buy toys, gifts, clothes, groceries, and electronics but has no time to visit different websites, then Amazon is the solution.

In regards to this, you have to understand that customers, regardless of their industries and locations, will do the same things with your products. Google is yet another example of this business type. People use it for the same purpose regardless of their industry, etc.

Some key points of the Horizontal market

  • Wider audience
  • A wide array of products
  • Research about a lot of things
  • Fewer market risks
Some key points of the Horizontal market

Vertical Market

Another market that should be talked about in this regard is the vertical market. It is opposite to what a horizontal market is. It is known as an expert in the field it is dealing with. They specialize in the type of products they are selling. In this model, your customers belong to a particular field.                                    

For instance, Noodle is dedicated to the educational industry, and people from academic backgrounds benefit from it. Nonetheless, it should be noted that people from various fields in the same industry can still use it – such as a student, someone looking for an art course, kindergarten students, etc.

If you own a business that belongs to this model, there is one major advantage and that is, you get expertise in the product you are dealing with. You would be able to showcase your product in the best possible ways. You have in-depth knowledge of the same, you can devote your time and effort to that niche, and you know who your competitors are! Convincing your customers would be much easier if you belong to the vertical business model. You can explain to your customers why they should avail of the product from you in a detailed manner. You have been in the industry for some time and know the whereabouts. You can also say that you know the industry better as you deal with a particular product.

Vertical markets bring more value to customers.

A vertical market is a market where all the customers are from one particular industry. As we mentioned earlier, Noodle.org caters to the education industry. Now it doesn’t matter if you are a school student, from an Ivy League college, or just want to learn dancing. It caters to all stages in the industry.

So to put it in a sentence – Google is a good search engine that belongs to the horizontal model; but if you are looking for education-related information, Noodle.org does a better job.

For example, if you are selling clothes online, you would be able to explain each and every product in great detail, which in turn will convince your customers. They will get the idea that you have the know-how of the materials, options, sizes, et al.

Notably, all niche businesses do not fall into the vertical market model.

Also, there are different categories under the vertical market so you should also be aware of the same.

But there is one common factor – businesses specializing in a specific niche use vertical marketing to contract their locations, parameters, etc.

Some key points of the Vertical Market

  • You have one industry to cater to
  • Less target audience
  • You just need to concentrate on the niche
  • Showcase your products in the best possible way to become a master

No matter what your business type is, make sure you know all the benefits and disadvantages before you move ahead with the same. If you don’t pay heed to the strategies and marketing, you won’t be able to flourish. You have to know how to cater to the requirements of customers.

Challenges to Set Up a Horizontal E-commerce Business

Here are some challenges to setting up a large horizontal e-commerce business. There are plenty of products and complications.

Firstly, there are already big brands like Amazon doing the same; so the competition will be extremely difficult.

Most people will choose a brand like Amazon rather than relying on a new website.

Thus, vertical e-commerce businesses are the way to go.

If you are agreeing to this, then ensure that one of the following two points exists.

The addressable market is big enough for you so that you can reach your goals one day.

The chosen vertical is complex for horizontal businesses to avoid.

Challenges of a vertical market

A smaller customer base restricts your opportunity to reach out and grow, which halts the revenue potential.

Another risk factor is that if the specialized market falls in size, you would suffer.


Vertical markets generally serve a specific audience and their set of needs.

But a horizontal market reaches anyone and everyone regardless of their niche.

In the beginning, people were satisfied with markets being horizontal. But if one is purchasing from a vertical market, he or she is more confident about the product. The strategies that the marketers adopt often depend on the market they are catering to.

Do you have a product that would attract customers? What are your interests? These are some of the questions that you should ask yourself before diving into the market. This will also help you understand which market your product fits in the best possible ways. Even if you fail to understand the technical nitty-gritty, in the beginning, you at least have to understand the nature of the business and planning steps, which in turn, will help you gain a competitive advantage.

If you already own a business, then we are sure that it belongs to one of the above business types. You now need to dig deeper and fund out how you can succeed in a particular type.

There is no distinct factor that determines the perfect one for your business. you have to research and find out your scope in the market. If you want a broader audience, then you need to opt for the horizontal market model.

Always remember that customer experience is paramount to any business’ success. It is all about creating long-term relationships with customers. No matter which business type you choose, you have to understand their requirements.

Looking for an e-commerce shipping solution? Get started with iThink Logistics