Although eCommerce has been around for some time now, we’re now at the exciting point where online sales are becoming just as popular as physical sales. This opens up a world of possibilities for turning our inspirations to profits. One niche that has benefited most from the digital revolution is fashion. According to FashionUnited, the value of the global fashion industry is 3 trillion dollars and it is 2% of the world’s GDP.

Here, we’ll be going over how to start online clothing store. We’ll be exploring the essential tips for online shop creation, particularly for clothing. This includes business and marketing tips, finding a USP, deciding on a platform, and building your eCommerce site. Use our navigating table below.

Online Clothing Store Business Plan

A business plan is crucial for creating any business. It’s key to know what you offer and who wants to purchase. If starting an online clothing company, this means first selecting your fashion niche.

Before we will get into each step, we want to highlight all the process with a simple infographics that you can use as a checklist for launching your future store.

How to Start a Clothing Store: InfographicsGet specific with it and choose the market. Activewear? Women’s apparel? Menswear? Get even deeper. Not just women’s clothing, but dresses, or cocktail dresses. Not just activewear, but men’s basketball attire. This provides a clear notion of customer persona, who’d like to find the desired products any time. It lets you identify your competitors and where they’re weak and strong.

Next, select the best model for your business. You might ask, “How much does it cost to start an eCommerce business for clothing?” Basic options depend on the business size and how much capital and energy you wish to invest in the startup. These options, ranging from highest to lowest in the investment of capital and timeframe, are Custom Cut and Sew Clothing Line, Print-on-Demand, and Private Label Clothing Line.

Simplest and cheapest is Print-on-Demand. Just purchase wholesale garments and print designs or logos. It requires little startup capital, often under $1000. You can also automate this operation easily. Getting going requires some wholesale garments, a digital inkjet garment printer, and a site to showcase design options.

For Whom?

Smaller businesses are best for this model. It can be set up in hours and even single unit sales will yield a profit. Large volume sales can’t be discounted with this model. Finishing options and print product selection are limited. The finished product is less customizable with regard to stitching, material, and fit. Finally, profits will be lower with this option than with the next two.

The Private Label Clothing Line is mid-range regarding setup and scalability. This yields more profits and allows greater personalization. Just purchase wholesale garments and customize them with tags, labels, printed designs, etc. You will buy wholesale garments in bulk, which requires delivery and inventory. Everything can be arranged in a month and with about $2500.

For Whom?

It is either for small or midsize businesses. With this model, you’ll receive great bulk prices. This gives better profits and lets you give volume discounts, so it’s more scalable than the previous model. Plus, as you will handle the garments, you can do more with the finished product. Boost brand value with custom labels and tags. Printed garments can be sold like this, but when handling a larger volume of garments, it’s best to use screen printing rather than digital printing. It’s a less expensive process once it’s been set up. However, low volume orders aren’t feasible because setup requires labor and time. Plus, designs are limited.

For minimum setup options, utilize ThreadBird and Just Like Hero. Both help with sourcing blank apparel wholesale. Just Like Hero offers higher quality materials without minimum orders, though the range is more limited. ThreadBird requires a 25-piece minimum and carries a wider range of choices. Plus, they give printing and finishing selections, including folding, bagging, folding, sewn labels, and hangtags.

The third approach is fully customizable and intensive in both labor and startup capital. A Custom Cut and Sew Clothing Line require designs and patterns. You’ve got to find fabrics, and establish production lines or manufacturers. Plus, consider production price, warehousing, and delivery. This is only the practical stuff that has to be implemented before building the eCommerce site and doing marketing. Given the details involved prior to selling, you’ll likely to spend from three months to a year on setup and upwards of $10,000. Therefore, you’ll need to source talent like manufacturers and pattern makers. Prior to coming to a finished product, it might be necessary to go through dozens of samples.

For Whom?

It is definitely for midsize and big businesses who want to expand their product line or go with new niches both for the domestic and foreign markets.

The great thing about this option is, it’s infinitely scalable and completely customizable. It gives more profit and increases brand value. You’ll want a site that perfectly reflects the brand. Magento is the best platform to use. Top fashion industries use Magento to showcase their products online.

Find Your Niche/Uniqueness

Fashion is one of the fastest growing sales niches in eCommerce. According to Statista, It has shown steady annual growth since 2003. In 2017, eCommerce fashion sales accounted for over $356 billion. It is a great eCommerce area to enter. To start online clothing store and succeed, it’s essential to understand the specific sale niche.

A niche is a subset of a larger market. By defining yours, you provide a select range to a select demographic. Plus, it lets you discover a USP and establish a brand identity that stands out amongst other brands. In an industry like fashion, choices abound. An eCommerce site will only be successful if it offers something unique and different.

It is ideal if your niche fills a market hole and gets a very specific range of customers interested. It lets consumers know what your brand is all about. This is what gives your product an identity. Working within a given niche is more affordable and marketable. It eliminates a huge amount of competitors and helps to cultivate customer loyalty.

Google trend can help you to find the exact uniqueness for the product. For example, you want to sell dresses and don’t know what will be your unique feature or why customers should buy your products?

You simply go to Google trends and type dress.

Google Trends by the Dress Search

You see that the overall trend is stable. But what if you will choose cotton?

Google Trends by the Cotton Search

As the graph is shown, the demand is growing because people are interested in health and natural materials. The same with a cotton dress, the most need for it is during Summer season.

Google Trends by the Cotton Dress Search

Cotton is a lightweight material and provides excellent breathing effect that is good for the skin. Besides, you can predict other trends with this useful tool from Google.

Find Your Niche

When planning the niche, look into the book Blue Ocean Strategy. It offers inspiration and techniques to find a market niche and render the competition irrelevant. Also, remember the brand is an extension of you. With a niche you enjoy, you’ll know how to reach others that enjoy it as well. Sell something you like and can do extremely well. It is a subtle but important key to building the brand successfully.

Create and Develop Your Brand Visuals

After getting clear on your niche, then it’s a cinch to build your brand clothing. The brand is the face of the company. It differentiates you from all other suppliers out there and presents a clear notion of the offering. It conveys the company’s meaning and ideal. You’ll want to understand who the market is and the branding that lands with them. You may wish to develop the brand yourself or work with a pro brand agent. For larger companies, a branding agent can be essential for getting the product to pop.

In a saturated market like the fashion industry, identifying the market is crucial. When identifying a demographic, consider what apparel you’d like to create. Then figure out who’d like to buy it. Sort out the USP, the unique selling point. Here, you’re niching down to find out exactly who you’re speaking to, getting specific to avoid targeting an excessively broad demographic. Finally, research to understand your competitors.

Then, establish the brand pillars. Brand pillars are words or attributes that embody your brand. They’re the foundation of the company persona. You’ll need three or four words or phrases that communicate what you are about in simplest terms. They serve as a focus, a guideline to ensure everything shared is aligned with the message. Content, ads, design, deals, conversations, everything shared should be oriented around the core message.

Brand visuals are the next step. These are core visual elements to make the website and labeling reflect the brand.

Just consider a logo. It’s a quick, simple visual that immediately lets customers know what product they are looking at. A logo features a color scheme that reflects the company ideals. Use the chosen colors and style for the brand and site. The logo should be both easy and distinctive.

The brand color scheme and logo will be featured on the website and ties all aspects together. Finally, sort out other design elements like fonts, design, and aesthetics.

Brand visuals begin with the mood board. Find images, colors, designs, and photos that fit the brand ideal. Scout around for bits of multimedia that fit the feel you’re after. This is like arranging a collage of everything that reflects the brand essence. This lets you select from it to establish site aesthetics. Then slim it down and determine the color pallet. Explore the colors on the mood board and select two or three that carry the feel. Go for the most dominant color first to attract the eye. Utilize Adobe Color to view some well-designed color pallets featuring your selection.

We want to share an example of how one agency has created a new logo for Airbnb. DesignStudio has shown the whole process of creation from the idea to the actual implementation started from the vision, message and then connected with logo and other supplies that built a strong brand image.

Airbnb Logo Expression

You can see the strong message that the company who provides great host and booking experience in many countries take place in people’s mind. A new preposition for all internal and external audiences; runs like ‘Belong Anywhere.’ The symbol Bélo is used as a community symbol that anyone can share and feeling like a part of the community for all the people. 

That’s how Airbnb had strengthened its brand and became memorable for customers around the world.

Choose Online Store Builder

In establishing the design of your online store for clothing, a key decision is which platform you’d like to utilize. eCommerce platforms offer you direct contact with customers and customize the brand presentation. They let you market through social sites and other channels. eCommerce eliminates the middlemen to give the best value to the clients and highest profits to the company. Store management and customer interactions become accessible.

With so many platform choices, which is best?

Since we are discussing how to begin a clothing line, we’ll focus here on the best for small to mid-sized options. However, many are also scalable, letting you grow the business larger.

Key considerations are:

  • price,
  • scalability,
  • business size,
  • ease of navigation.

You need: 

  • intuitive interface,
  • mobile-friendliness,
  • cross-browser compatibility.

This makes your site user-friendly, which lets customers find what they want easily and increases conversions. Plus, it is administratively, allowing simple site management and changes as necessary.

Some great platforms are Shopify, OpenCart, PrestaShop, Magento 2, and WooCommerce.

PrestaShop is an open source, which means that it’s great for customizability if you or your designer know how to code. It offers a starter theme and add-ons that let you dress it up as you like. Also, it allows you to manage several stores at once.

OpenCart is user-friendly and lightweight, a perfect solution for first-time online stores.

Shopify is a great platform and it’s partnered with several other eCommerce services such as Printful. It offers a host of different packages to fit nearly any budget and business need.

WooCommerce is another excellent choice for new business owners and those who are creating their initial eCommerce site. It is lightweight, user-friendly, and features an intuitive interface that lets you set up a site quickly and without knowing the code.

For endless scalability, complete customizability, and enough robustness for any purpose, Magento 2 is the hands-down best. It’s modular and can be made as simple or complex as you want it. The beauty of working with Magento 2 is that it is partnered with many of the top industry providers, letting you integrate shipping payment options and a host of other services. Most top merchants use Magento 2 because it’s the best platform on the market. 

Create an Online Store

When exploring how to start a clothing website, the process is similar to creating other online stores.

  1. Begin with considering the goals. Understand your audience and what you’d like to showcase.
  2. Select the CMS, the eCommerce site platform. Setup template, aesthetics, and functionality. Remember to set up site security so that customers feel comfortable entering their payment details.
  3. Look at performance and SEO optimization. Make sure that the interface is intuitive, navigation is easy, and the icons are familiar. You need a smooth-working site that shows up when customers search for it. It’s essential to make it cross-browser compatible and mobile-friendly.
  4. Ensure that the site is GDPR compliant and that you can use analytics to continuously refine site presentation.

Choose Your Domain Name

Your domain name is as important as your brand. Clothing store names are essential because they give your brand a handle, a single, clear title that instantly brings your product to mind. This is basically the verbal equivalent of a logo. Unique domain names provide a distinct identity and make the website easy to find. Custom URLs offer a professional feel to the site.

Two great options for purchasing a custom URL are Namecheap and GoDaddy. Or, select a URL through the eCommerce platform. It’s a cheap approach, but more limited in selection and amateur in appearance. Plus, if you ever have to switch platforms, you may have to leave the URL behind.

Preferably, you’ll have your company name down before selecting a URL.

Brainstorm about good names for a clothing boutique. It’s a helpful starting point and ensures customers can find you.

Make it simple to remember and catchy. Plus, it should reflect your brand, products, and ethos.

Choose and Customize Your Template

After choosing your platform and developing brand visuals, select the template and customize it. There are many templates available, each with a different feel and look. You’ll probably wish to explore to find one that truly fits your product and brand. After choosing, customize it. Consider what you, as a customer, would like to see when visiting the website to purchase the product. Who’s the demographic? Consider their age, occupations, and earning capacities. Consider their lifestyles. Then choose the template so that it fits your customers’ perspectives and needs while still offering a personal touch.

Most platforms feature many different templates customized for fashion and clothing. Only a few of these will be free, but it’s more than worth it to pay for a template that fits your desires perfectly.

Magento 2 is designed to be customizable, so it has a huge selection of templates. You can choose the default Luma theme or any other from the Marketplace and customize according to your needs.

After a template is selected, it’s time for customization! You can add a blog page and integrate social media feeds. Elements can be moved, added, or removed. The background image and color pallet can be changed as you like. You can also change the font, size, and color of any section or add new pages. When you’re finished up, you should have a site that perfectly reflects your brand offering.

In addition, we want to share our choice of Magento features for the successful online clothing store:

  1. Return Manager extension (RMA). This module allows store owner or administrator to deal with requests for any return/refund/replacement request placed by the Registered or Guest customers.
  2. Autocomplete and autosuggest search. This feature helps customers to search product quickly by past typing the third symbol in the search field and jump to the relevant product or item.
  3. Reviews widget. Reviews are essential to gain customers’ trust to the product and loyalty to your brand. Reviews widget allows you to to add product reviews to any page at your store.
  4. Featured products, You may also like widgets. These widgets allows you to showcase the most popular items or the related items to boost your sales and give customers a plenty of choice.
  5. Custom product options extensions. It helps you to to easily configure and edit product variations.
  6. POS integration. Being omnichannel means give the customers seamless shopping experience and control online and offline store operations via one program. POS is made for managing sales and inventory and also give you simple control over the most important processes at your store.

Look at Famous Clothing Brands

There are loads of popular fashion sites built with Shopify. Sephora emphasizes education, making sure that customers learn while they shop. Verge Girl is an eCommerce fashion site created with BigCommerce that truly knows how to leverage the visual quality of the site to maximize sales. All communications have an irreverent, sassy attitude. Plus, the blog adds value by educating customers about interesting topics.

Once again, Magento stands out from the crowd with its impressive list of tops brands. Check out BVLGARI, Agent Provocateur, and Kurt Geiger for just a few of the top fashion brands that use Magento to create their eCommerce sites. The list doesn’t stop there. Nike. Hermès. Victoria Beckham. Björn Borg. There are loads of others, each using the Magento platform and templates to create a site that is uniquely tailored to their brand offering.

Create Your Marketing Strategy

In the end, your store is only as good as your marketing strategy. People need to know about your product before they can buy it. And by this time, you should already have a handle on what your customers like and what they want to hear. Based on this, you can create a hook, something that really grabs their attention. That’s the first step.

Once you know what to say, then you find out how to make the message reach the customer. In the digital era, social networking is key.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. You’ll want to link social channels to your site, featuring blogs on Twitter and Facebook. Instagram is ideal for fashion sites since it’s photo-based. You can show your trending products and link to the product page. Remember to use hashtags so interested customers can find the products easily. And, though these are some of the top social sites, don’t forget some of the others.

Pinterest, Snapchat, and Tumblr are other great channels for getting the word out.

Vlogging is another great way to showcase products visually. And, since you can include more personalized content, you can create a closer connection with your clients. This is just the beginning.

Consider email marketing and content marketing. Both are great free ways to reach your customers. Content marketing lets you add value to the site by discussing things that your clients will be interested in. And email reminders about abandoned carts can increase customer loyalty and reduce lost sales.

Finally, consider paid advertising like Facebook Advertising and Google Adwords. These are great ways to reach out and connect with new customers.

Define Your Target Audience

In order to communicate effectively with your customers, you have to know who your customers are. Think of the ideal customer. And, think of the style that your product represents. Hopefully, you’re selling something that fits your style so you know how to speak to the customer the way you want to be spoken to. Either way, get clear on who your message will land with, who your brand will appeal to, and you’ve got 90% of the game covered.

Choose Additional Marketing and Sales Channels

One thing that we haven’t mentioned so far is SEO. This is absolutely crucial for new customers.

Optimize your meta descriptions and page titles. Make sure that keywords are on point. This will make sure your site shows up when people search for related topics. Think about optimizing each product page with the keywords that people will search for. It’s likely that the homepage won’t pop up for specific product searches, so optimizing product pages will vastly increase your range. It’s also important to structure the site so that all content can be easily found by Google’s search algorithms.

On top of this, look into cross-selling, less-known social platforms, word of mouth marketing, bulk SMS messaging. There are plenty of other sales channels, but if you work with this for the beginning, you’ll be able to reach as many customers as you can handle.

Be Creative

The key to making your business successful is to get creative. Every business is unique. It’s a reflection of your brand and personal style. So, get creative about it. Maybe your product is best served by creative videos, YouTube ads, influencers. You can look into product or culture fairs to reach more people. Look into studios or other businesses that are related to what you have to offer. There are so many unorthodox methods of getting your product out there that you are limited only by your imagination.

Summary

Now that we’ve gone over the whole scoop on how to start a business online for clothing, you should be ready to get started. Hopefully, you now know that it’s not as daunting as it might seem. Whether you want to get a shop going within hours or a custom shop set up within a year, whether you have $50 to lay down or want to create a custom product line with a $10,000 investment, you’ve got the tools and knowledge to make that happen. If you have any questions or you’d like a dedicated programmer to get you started, feel free to reach out. We’d love to get you on track with your new clothing line.
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