So, you’ve been giving a lot of thought lately about starting an eCommmerce clothing business, eh? First, let us give you kudos because the world could always use more successful entrepreneurs. On the other hand, thinking about selling your attire online vs. actually knowing how to start an online apparel store is another matter entirely. If you don’t know what getting your clothing store business off the ground entails, not to worry; we’ve put together the following tips to help kick start your venture.
How Do I Start My Own Clothing Store?
If you are looking for the answer concerning how to start your online boutique, first know that the online clothes sale marketplace is huge. Meanwhile, the experts forecast it will only get bigger and continue to evolve. Although this may be true, starting an online clothing store, just like any other online business, involves careful planning, making the best financial decisions and completing various legal activities.
That being said, scroll down to find out more about what you need to do to start your own clothing store.
How Much Does it Cost to Start an Online Clothing Store?
You’ll be happy to know that conducting sales through eCommmerce often has little to no overhead compared to doing the same in a brick & mortar store. Meanwhile, the exact number regarding costs to start an online clothing store can vary widely, depending on the type of business model you use. For example, dropshipping is a really good business model to use if you have limited funds.
Based on studies, you should expect to pay between $3 and $500 on average to drop ship attire through your online store. And, the cost can vary, depending on design, tech skills, equipment etc. There also can be outliers that come up, but that $3 to $500 figure is a realistic amount you can expect to pay.
Is the Online Clothing Business Profitable?
A good, unique niche in the online clothing industry stands to prosper if you have a good business plan, plenty of resolve and strong business skills and knowledge. So, here are a few riveting statistics to consider if you want to go ahead and get a piece of it:
- Up to now, 69% of consumers in the U.S. have shopped online. At least 25% of them shop online once a month.
- Selling clothing online is a very lucrative business, garnering around $90 billion annually.
- Online shopping is growing so fast that analysts predict that the size of the global online shopping market will hit nearly 4 trillion in 2020.
- By 2022, the apparel market in the U.S. alone is expected to reach $138 billion dollars.
Where Do Online Boutiques Buy Their Clothing?
If you aren’t designing your clothes, you need to buy clothing to sell on your website. Online clothing store owners usually purchase boutique clothing from wholesale suppliers that offer competitive prices, a mix of styles and good quality. A few top-name online suppliers that service this sector, include Wholesale 7, Chinabrands, Sugarlips and Wholesale Fashion Square.
10 Tips for Starting an Online Clothing Store
It is best to have a plan that gives you a head start on getting your company started. These seven easy steps offer some excellent tips & tricks for starting an online apparel store.
1. Find your niche groove
A niche is a segment of a market that services a unique need, preference or identity, such as AI fashion, ethical diamonds or NFT-certified art and memorabilia. While it does seem a bit unproductive to appeal to a specialized niche, appealing to the masses is a bad idea.
On the other hand, simply choosing a niche is not enough, as there are now scores of eCommmerce stores to compete with. To be competitive, you have to be creative and hone in on styles that are more specific. Asking yourself the following can help you find your niche groove:
- Can you position your brand as an authority & add value to the customer?
- Is there a clothing product or accessory you’d like to see on the market, but it hasn’t made it there yet?
- Are you looking to have a side hustle and make a little extra cash on the side?
- Is the niche something you are passionate about or excel at? Is it something you enjoy doing?
- Does the niche have the potential to make money? Here are a few things to consider when picking profitable products to add to your online clothing store:
- Remember: Steady wins the race. Start small and go slow.
- Pay extra attention to the fabric if you are creating your own fashion, as it will determine how the final design appears.
- Think ahead because the clothing game is always evolving.
2. Put together a robust business plan
A business plan acts as an executive summary or roadmap, if you will, to get your online apparel start-up off the ground and running. In addition, it helps you better understand factors like your target market and direct competitors better, allowing you to develop your strategies.
A robust business plan also helps you get funding from the bank or attract partners who sense a good ROI opportunity. You can click on this template provided by the U.S. Small Business Association to find out what all a business plan entails. The template also guides you on how to easily put a business plan together.
3. Select your eCommmerce platform
An eCommmerce builder is a software app that manages and streamlines your online business’s website, sales & marketing, operations and more. Having one will be essential to bringing your online clothing store to fruition and making it thrive.
When selecting your eCommmerce platform, consider that the size of your business typically determines its sophistication and cost. Fortunately, eCommmerce platforms are often scalable.
4. Find a unique domain name
When starting an online apparel store, you’ll need to find your business’s domain name. Why? Well, for starters, a domain name gives your online business instant credibility and gets you into the same online marketplace shared with your biggest competitors.
A domain name also states that you are a forward-thinking establishment that is easily accessible to your customers. Choose a memorable business name/domain name because it is the first thing your customers will see. Your domain name also needs to be unique, and there are free domain checkers you can use to generate one that no one else is using.
5. Choose your templates and customize your store
Many eCommmerce platforms have professional, customizable templates you can choose that meet your online clothing store needs. These templates make it a breeze to design your online store, as they allow you to customize everything from navigation to gorgeous product pages that attract buyers and represent your brand.
So, browse through your options and select the template that includes all the necessary features you need. Also, be ready to make the changes required to bring the vision you have for your website to life. Also, many eCommmerce companies have a good support team to help you with customizing your store if you are unfamiliar with the process.
6. Set up your website to optimize your sales
Consider this: 79% of web users say that a poor experience on a website turns them off, leading them to go to another to browse & shop. In other words, the user experience is paramount to keeping shoppers satisfied. Of course, selling your products is why you wanted to start an online clothing store, so here are four tips & tricks to elevate the user experience and sell your clothing better:
- List product descriptions: You need to list professional images and develop quality descriptions of your products. Also, bear in mind the sales & marketing angle when it comes to writing these descriptions. When your descriptions are subpar, and the webpage copy fails to make optimal use of keywords for your niche, you’re not going to show up on any search engines.
- Have easy navigation: When people visit a site, they don’t want to be overwhelmed with menus, banners, ads, dropdowns and other navigation options. In short, if it is a chore to shop and navigate through your webpages, your customers are going to go elsewhere.
- Feature easy checkout: Shoppers filling up their electronic cart and checking out is a big part of earning revenue, but a problematic point of sale often makes them abandon their cart mid-transaction. To make your checkout process as seamless as possible, you can keep everything on a single screen and accept auto-filled details. It’s also best to take various payment options, including gift cards, credit cards, PayPal and cryptocurrency.
- Have an on-site search: Customers want to access details about your product easily and quickly. When you have a clunky search function or lack one altogether, customers won’t find out the essential information they want to know about you and your products. This lack of detail utterly destroys the user experience, and you miss a vital opportunity when they leave.
7. Publish your online store & market it
So, you’ve published your store and everything looks stellar. However, you’ve noticed customers aren’t lining up at your virtual door to shop, so what gives? Well, there are a few steps left to go, and your eCommmerce marketplace needs some effective sales & marketing mojo.
Likewise, the three basic tools that can help your online clothing store get up and running are email marketing tools and social media and content marketing. If you don’t have time or inclination to do these marketing tasks yourself, online marketing agencies can help you.
8. Develop an Inventory Management System
You can lose visibility of your stock and the rapid-fire transactions that happen before you know it. Whether your operation is small, medium or large, you’ll need an inventory management plan & system for managing, organizing, and shipping apparel from your warehouse if you carry inventory.
You’ll also be counting inventory periodically to manage shrinkage and loss. Many businesses use a spreadsheet system like Excel to track inventory and think it’s enough. Unfortunately, this type of system eventually becomes cumbersome, and it’s even risky since transactions aren’t happening in real-time.
You will want to make any facet of your business as seamless as possible. For example, since inventory at your apparel shop can get out of control quickly, an apparel Enterprise Resource Systems (ERP) that is integrated with your eCommerce store will be a good investment.
With these systems, you’ll be able to streamline and track activities, such as receiving, storage, inventory management, picking and shipping, along with getting the critical metrics and documents that pertain to your eCommmerce store milestones.
9. Keep Your Business Idea from Being Stolen
There was a line made famous in The Godfather that goes, “It’s not personal, it’s just business. The saying is an apt quote that represents how not everyone in the business world plays nice (although maybe not as extreme as it is in the mafia world portrayed in The Godfather).
You probably never expected it, but there are also legal tips for starting an online clothing store that will keep your business healthy. Here are five of the top ones it pays to know while you are conquering your niche:
- Use a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). An NDA with a confidentiality agreement is one way to protect your idea before you present it to business associates and partners.
- Add a non-compete clause to the NDA if your fashion is innovative, especially if you have a specific client base or use advanced technology to make your clothing.
- Apply for any patents needed and trademark your firm’s name.
- Document it all. Everything. No fail.
- See a business attorney. In fact, it’s very savvy to consult with one to see if you have missed any legal aspects.
10. Prevent attackers from cloning your website
So, your online clothing store is up and running, gaining traction, getting sales, and then…attackers clone your website. This unpleasant event will certainly be a wake-up call and a “no fair” moment if it happens to you.
Cloning someone’s website is definitely a case where imitation is not a sincere form of flattery, and it will often dilute your traffic, which, in turn, will make your sales plummet. Luckily, there are things you can do to help you recover and stop nefarious people from attacking your website.
The most effective and easiest thing you can do is get in touch with every provider the cloned website uses, including its Content Delivery Network (CDN), host and domain provider. Send them a take- down request that explains the attack you’ve observed. Additionally, sharing with them your trademarks and copyrights will typically expedite the process.
The Wrap Up
We hope you enjoyed learning about starting your online clothing store. As any CEO or solopreneur will tell you, though, it takes a lot of commitment and business acumen to be a success. And, although all the ins and outs of opening a business go beyond the scope of one post, the basics within this one will give you the tools you need to head you in the right direction.
N41 ERP Software for Your Clothing Store
If you would like to know more about automating your clothing inventory and managing your purchases, along with streamlining your operations and transactions, you can contact N41 at (213) 738‐1010. Alternatively, you can fill out our online form to request a demo of our apparel and fashion ERP software.