How to Start an Online Clothing Business
Your passion for fashion has led you to decide to open a clothing business online, and now you’re in the phase of research on what you need to do to have a successful clothing business online.
Starting an online clothing store can be the best experience in your life when your store is a success, it can become an available asset to own that brings you consistent revenue.
But many clothing sites start with big dreams and aspirations but fail to achieve them, lack of experience is one reason, but lack of persistence is another major factor.
In this article we’ll go through each step you’ll need to take to start a successful online store and how to avoid the pitfalls and mistakes of beginners.
So let’s get started.
Where to Get Started?
You have a strong desire and deep passion for fashion and you want to start an online store, but you don’t know where to start and how to begin.
The main starting point for you is to gather information about your audience, learn about your audience and their desires and preferences, and learn about those who are going to buy from you. Why?
Because your audience is the factor that’s going to make the difference between a successful journey and a failed one. What’s the point of building a website and designing or buying clothes from a wholesaler if no one would eventually buy?
To be successful, you will need to treat this as a business, not a hobby, and professional businessmen do what their audiences’ want not just what the business owner likes or dislikes.
So the first step is knowing your audience and getting educated about it.
How to do that?
This depends on your budget, if you have a budget that allows for primary market research then conducting interviews, surveys, and focus groups would be a great source of information and data to further analyze and learn about your audience preferences.
If you don’t have a budget to perform primary research then secondary research can be enough to get you started, use social media to gain insights about what your audience prefers and engages with, and join groups and have conversations with your target audience to better understand their view.
That’s the starting point, understanding your audience, it would be extremely hard to succeed without this step so make sure to take your time in it.
Determine the Business Model
There are different business models to build your business around in the online world, each with its pros and cons.
You will mainly have three options to go for:
- Order wholesale from a supplier
- Manufacturing your own products
Dropshipping is the easiest and least expensive option, all you will have to do is find a supplier that allows for dropshipping then you will build your store with his products. All the costs in the dropshipping model will be mainly in marketing and advertising.
It’s the least expensive model to follow through and it’s the most suitable for beginners as there are not so many moving parts in it.
Similar to dropshipping, ordering wholesale from a supplier will require a considerable amount of time to find a good supplier that matches the criteria that you set for your clothing brand. Once you find the supplier and order wholesale from it you will need to find a place to store your products, you will also need to take care of shipping when your products are ordered.
More moving parts in this model and it requires a bigger starting budget, but still, if you manage to find a good supplier, a place to store your products, and an effective shipping method then you will be on your way to success.
Manufacturing your clothes and selling them is the biggest and most expensive model, as you will be dealing with many parts in the clothing supply chain.
You will need to worry about the design of the products, quality of material and manufacturing process, and many different parts in the supply chain and the logistics of getting the clothes from the manufacturer to the hands of customers.
It’s the most expensive and labor-intensive model of them all, but you get to design your unique cloth so if you’re able to design clothes that customers want you’re going to be on your way to success.
To have a legitimate business you will need to be legally compliant from the start to avoid any trouble once your business is running.
The two most suitable business structures in the case of an online clothing store are either a sole proprietorship or an LLC.
sole proprietorship is the simplest and most common business structure. The business is owned and operated by a single individual. It’s easy and inexpensive to set up, you’ll have direct control of business decisions, and it’s simple in terms of tax, profits and losses are reported on the owner’s tax return.
An LLC is a flexible business structure that combines aspects of a corporation and a sole proprietorship or partnership. Owners are called members. It has more flexibility in management and ownership structure compared to a corporation. However, it requires more administrative requirements than a sole proprietorship. And it has limited ability to raise capital compared to a corporation.
Choosing the Right E-commerce Platform:
Choosing the right e-commerce platform depends on various factors such as your preferences, your technical knowledge, and your needs and requirements.
Mainly there are two options when it comes to choosing e-commerce platforms:
Each one of them has its advantages and disadvantages over the other and each one fulfills different needs.
Shopify is very user-friendly with a drag-and-drop interface, it has a large selection of responsive themes, and it is secure and reliable. However advanced customization may require knowledge of Liquid (Shopify’s template language).
On the other hand, WooCommerce Integrates seamlessly with WordPress, which is widely used for content management, it is highly customizable with numerous plugins, and it has strong community support. The issue with it is that it requires a WordPress website and hosting.
Marketing Your Online Business
You’ve built it, so will they come?
In the online world, the answer is probably no, you have to be loud about your business and let your customers know that you exist so they can buy from you. Competition is fierce and you won’t be noticed otherwise.
Online there’s search, and there’s social. There’s organic, and there’s paid.
Ideally, your marketing mix should contain a mixture of all of these components.
Paid advertising on social media and search is more common than organic marketing and content marketing among many businesses. However what many businesses seem to overlook is that they don’t consider the power of online marketing and how it reduces their business costs and increases customer satisfaction.
SEO, social media marketing, and paid ads are three things you will need to get educated about in your online journey to market your store and get customers to start buying from you.
This was a quick roadmap on how to start an online clothing business, every point discussed in this article will need further research and analysis.
Starting an online business could be one of the best decisions you’ve made, but it needs to be well-researched and well-planned so it becomes successful when implemented.
By doing detailed marketing research, selecting the right business model, and the appropriate business structure, choosing the e-commerce platform that fits your needs, and marketing your business intelligently you wildly increase your chances of success.