How to Open a Online Clothing Store — Ultimate guide

Figure Out Your Style

Many internet hopefuls have turned to various sites such as Mercari, Etsy, and Poshmark to sell their clothing, either the items that they have purchased and would like to pass on or the clothing that they have made themselves.

If you are interested in opening your own online clothing store but you don’t want to go through the website types listed above, then there is a bit more to the process than simply creating a username and password. An established online clothing store will require much of the same elements that a traditional business would.

Asking yourself what you want to sell is a simple yet crucial question. There are niche clothing markets everywhere on the Internet, so it’s important that you determine what kind of clothing you want to sell, and then who you want to market this clothing to.

Second, you have to fit yourself into a category regarding your products. Are you going to make the clothing? Or are you going to act as the middleman and sell them from a source? All of this will influence how you market yourself to your audience, as well as the turnaround time necessary to get the product into the hands of the customers.

Craft Your Business Model

It is never recommended that you go into any business without first conducting some research and putting pen to paper. Any successful business must start with a business plan, and within that plan, you’ll outline what is known as a SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis is inclusive of four factors and will help you take a good look at the business you’re about to open

  • Strengths. What can you offer that you feel no one else can? This goes back to the niche that you’ve chosen. Be sure to do your research and examine the trends, but also be mindful of which types of clothing seem to be oversaturating the market.
  • Weaknesses. Where can you make improvements within your business model? Are there any resources you don’t have? Once you answer these, you can fill in those gaps to ensure a more successful online experience.
  • Opportunities. What are they? Are there any clothing trends or fads that you can capitalize upon? How can you take your research of the online clothing market and turn them into strengths that you implement within your business?
  • Threats. Are there threats present, especially in the form of competition? What are experts saying about the growth of your particular industry in the next ten years? Again, answer those questions to safeguard yourself against any business failures. One of the draws to selling online clothing is that it’s relatively easy to get started, but this also means that there are multiple sources for potential customers to buy their clothing.

In addition to the SWOT analysis, you will have to come up with an executive summary, a mission statement, a snapshot of finances, a list of your vendors (if you are selling clothing as a middleman and not making them yourself), and a list of financial projections to help you stay on track.

Choose Your Online Location

As a first time business owner, you may not want to spend the money getting a tailor-made website for your business.

Remember, not only will you have to list the products, you will also have to include features that allow your customers to put items in their shopping cart, pay for their purchases, and negotiate the shipping.

While this is absolutely possible, you may want to opt for the easier route and choose a ready-made ecommerce platform.

In the United States alone, the online retail industry (clothing, shoes, accessories, and more) saw profits of over $110 billion. That should tell you that the market is there; you just have to tap into it. Since the industry has grown so rapidly in the last few years, there is no shortage of ecommerce sites for you to choose from.

The best way to acclimate yourself to this environment is to get in there and try them out yourself. Develop an account on some of these sites, sign up as both a seller and a buyer to better streamline the process, then choose the one that you like best.

These platforms will allow you to personalize your website, and some even let you choose the domain name. Bring in the design elements that you pondered when choosing your niche, and you will be good to go.

If you are someone who would prefer to build the website from the ground up, just make sure to factor the costs of web design and the website maintenance into your initial start-up costs.

Brand Yourself

Since your operations will be conducted online, there will not be a need for you to invest in decorating, layout, or other costs associated with having a storefront. Instead, that design aspect is going 100% into your website. Building your brand is going to be an online effort.

First, choose a name for yourself. Be sure that it’s something creative, easy to remember, and that it doesn’t closely resemble other business names out there. Check your state or federal registry if you need to assess whether your name is too similar to another.

Second, start thinking about the aesthetic you want to have for your brand. This might go hand in hand with the niche you’ve chosen regarding your product. It’s okay to do a little research for inspiration, as long as you are ultimately keeping your audience in mind as your end goal.

Finally, put together press materials. What is your business card going to look like? What promotional photos can you take and publish? Are your logo, color scheme, and other design elements going to match one another? Building a successful online brand is all about being easily recognized, so keep this in mind when choosing those design elements.

Start Listing Your Products

The user experience is what will drive your customers to purchase from you. When listing your products, you want to be mindful of a few things:

  • Product Descriptions. Virtually every clothing item for sale on the Internet has a corresponding product description. People are taking a risk when they buy clothing online, and for that reason, they are going to trust you to provide a detailed blurb about the size, the look, the feel, and more. You do not want your customers to pass up a sale because they weren’t able to determine if the clothing item was right for them due to a lack of descriptions. If writing is not your forte, either research how other sites talk about their products, or hire someone to write the descriptions for you.
  • Pictures. People want to know how the clothing is going to look on them. The photos you post are crucial to making that sale. Think about the lighting, the position of the clothing, and the model (if you use one) that you will put the clothing on. Consider providing multiple shots of the item with different angles so your clients can see the entire piece. Nothing is more frustrating to a user than not being able to see the clothing item fully before purchase.
  • Reviews. Should you choose an ecommerce platform, they might already have a system in place whereby your customers can leave you a review. However, this doesn’t guarantee that they will. Be courteous; reach out to customers who have purchased from you and ask them to leave you and your products a review. There are some sites who offer incentives to clients for leaving a review, and if you can afford that financially, consider implementing that for your own site. This will help draw more attention your way and will put trust in your potential clients that you are an honest business person.
  • Policies. What will be your return policy for a customer? Will you allow for exchanges Money back guarantees? After how much time will you not allow someone to return an item? These are the questions your customers will want to know, and therefore, a detailed summary or list of your policies must appear somewhere on your site. Again, pretend you are a customer yourself. What questions would you have before making a clothing purchase online? If you preempt their questions, it will make the buying process as smooth as can be.

Make Your First Sale!

When all has been set up and your online shopping cart is ready for customers to fill, then you are on your way toward making your first sale. As stated, it’s the user experience that will make or break your success, so be sure that everything is laid out in a clear, organized way. If the check-out process is too complicated, then your potential clients might give up and move to a site with a more streamlined system.

Always be sure to test out your site and its features before going live.

That way, you can iron out any of the small bugs and get your online shop on its way to success.




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