With the entire world dancing to the tunes of the World Wide Web, launching an online shopping store is one of the best ideas one can come up with. The BusinessZeal article below enlists 10 simple steps to set up an online clothing store.
More than a couple of decades back, opening any kind of convenience or clothing store would involve steps like finding a location, deciding on finance, finding wholesalers, and then opening the store for sale. Despite the fact that marketing was an important phase, print media was more effective. As of today though, using the internet as a marketing tool for business is a fairly common practice; in fact, going online is the new mantra! So much that we can actually shop online. Shopping sites like Ebay and Amazon are some of the well-known shopping websites. If you like to deal with fabrics and designs and wish to open a clothing store, how about turning to the internet for help? This article will tell you how to start an online clothing store. While it focuses on clothing, the same can be applied to any other online store.
Steps to Set Up an Online Clothing Store
Read the steps below to know how to run a successful online clothing store.
1. Pick a Niche
- This is one of the most important things you need to start an online clothing store (or for that matter, any store).
- Clothing and apparel is a very broad category. Therefore, to begin with, decide your product. Decide what you intend to sell.
- You may have several ideas where clothing is concerned. Would you like to explore floral prints? Or, would you prefer specializing in personalized clothing?
- You may even like to sell solely prom and cocktail dresses. Or you may specialize in recycled clothing or funky t-shirts or spring/winter clothing.
- Lay out your options and ideas and come up with a suitable option.
- You may want to open a store that has all the necessary clothing as well – jeans, tops, dresses, etc. But if you want to stand out, perhaps you need to put in a little more thought regarding the product offering.
- Your product design must be original. ‘Exclusive’ should be the watchword.
- You also have to consider your target audience. Your products will be different with an elderly audience and different with a teen audience or with kids.
- Once you have made an informed choice, proceed to the next step.
- Market research is not an option; it is a compulsion.
- You are not the only one who is planning to open an online store; there are many others who might be thinking about it currently, and many others who have already done so.
- You have to research your competition. Find out what they are selling, and try to incorporate something unique with your brand.
- Find out how much demand there is for your product. For instance, you will probably want to sell hand-knitted woolen tops, but they may not be very much in demand.
- Scrounge online forums, social media, and general surveys to research on the product demand.
- Another point you need to decide is the manufacturing.
- Are you going to design and manufacture the product yourself? Or are you going to get it designed and produced from a designer and supplier? Or you might opt for a combination. You might want your own designs, but you might get them manufactured by a third-party producer. Write down the options, analyze, and choose one.
- Search for a good, well-known supplier in case you want them manufactured through an external source.
3. Create a Business Plan
- The next step is to create a business plan for the online clothing store.
- Decide your inventory. Your store is online-based, but your product is not going to get created online. It needs to be physically manufactured and shipped.
- Come up with a good plan to store items. Sometimes, your customers may not be satisfied with the product or the wrong item may have been shipped. You’ll need a warehouse to store excess material.
- Decide on the shipping. How do you plan to send the products? How long will it take? Which is the most efficient, yet cost-effective method?
- Work out the shipping and storage pointers with the concerned party.
- You will need to be involved in shipping irrespective of whether the manufacturer is your own or a third party.
- Next, decide on the customer service. Have lots of user-friendly options. In a business, your customer is your deity. Your store must give them sufficient options regarding selection, purchase, shipping, product return, refund, product exchange, etc.
- If you are manufacturing the product yourself, you will have to hire employees. Decide on their salaries and work hours. Consider taxation formalities, licensing, and other costs.
4. Check on the Finance
- You certainly need to have sufficient start-up capital. After formulating a business plan, come up with listing down the costs.
- Decide the production costs in both cases – when you are the producer or you have outsourced the same to a third party.
- You will be buying a domain name. You will also hire a web designer. Consider the website building costs.
- Your taxes, employee wages, warehouse rent, shipping costs, etc., need to be considered.
- You’ll also need to consider these factors before setting up the list price (LP) of your item. Mind you, this price is always more than the cost price (CP).
- If you are planning to give periodic price waivers or seasonal discounts, consider the profit and loss situation as well.
- Online marketing may not cost much, but if you want sites like Ebay to help advertise your site, you will need to pay them.
- You will need to consider pay-per-click ads as well.
- Work out all the costs and come up with a good financial plan.
5. Registration and Legal Considerations
- You have to consider what legal documents you would need to start an online clothing store.
- Like all businesses, you will have to register yours as well, whether it is online or not.
- If you are wondering whether you need a business license for an online clothing store, the answer is in the affirmative. If you do not have the required license, you may be penalized.
- Refer to the state laws for registration formalities.
- You will need to furnish your personal details, business name, and complete the necessary paperwork.
- Consider the tax and legal documents as well.
6. Design the Website
- This is one of the most important steps. Here is where you begin the actual business.
- To begin with, you will need to register a domain name. It has to be similar to your business name. Let the name be cool and catchy, something that will attract immediate attention.
- You have to purchase web space. Make sure you buy a good web hosting service. You’ll need space for further business growth.
- Next, you need to design your website.
- If you have studied web design and scripting languages, you can design the site yourself. However, it would be better to take help from a professional.
- Your site layout should be polished and sophisticated. Do not crowd too many elements at one place. It needs to look spacious.
- All the same, you have to make sure that all the necessary elements are available – login, logout, payment options, credit options, clothing choices, cost, shopping cart, etc.
- Choose proper color combinations and fonts. Do not overdo anything – you don’t want your site to look like a circus.
- You also need to choose a good business name. Try and think out of the box.
- You can use your product and come up with lovely names. How about ‘Wild’n Hot Fashions’ if you specialize in winter clothing? Or ‘Sassy Curves’ if you specialize in gowns and cocktail dresses?
7. Decide the Software
- Next, you are to choose your e-commerce solution for convenient purchase. Consider your budget and make a proper choice.
- You can choose an open source software or a hosted service.
- If you choose an open source solution, you have to create the site yourself. Open sources are free downloads to which changes can be made as required. It would be better to hire someone instead of getting into the programming technicalities.
- Hosted solutions are the best options for beginners. They provide you with the necessary software as well as their server for hosting.
- There are many such services that will provide you with a strong platform. Choose an all-inclusive service.
- Usually, these services will charge fees for letting you use their server space. You may have heard of Selz and Shopify that offer you options to build your website and sell clothes online. Both are inexpensive and effective solutions.
- You can choose a licensed service as well. However, these services have certain security issues, therefore it is best to avoid them.
8. Create a Merchant Account
- Next, you have to decide how you are going to get paid. One of the most common mistakes newbies make while setting up an online store is to have confusing payment options.
- You may begin with the simplest option of PayPal, but it would be better to accept credit cards from customers.
- For this, you need to create a merchant account. This requires you to work out plans with a bank so that your clients can pay money directly.
- You also have to take care of the shipping options. Decide the plans with your supplier.
9. Promote the Store
- One of the most commonly used and obvious marketing ideas for an online clothing store is social media.
- Since your store has no physical location, you have a few restrictions regarding marketing. You have to mostly rely on the internet.
- To begin with, frequent the social networking sites. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the most famous and well-known networking platforms. Market your online store in the best way possible.
- You might want to offer initial discounts and sales to entice customers. Advertise the same. Use Pay-per-click ads on popular search engines and online marketing sites.
- You could start your own blog as well, and post updates as and when possible.
- Use YouTube to post a small video of the products you offer. The more views it gathers, the more your customers.
10. Conduct Product Sale
- You are almost set. Your store is ready and has been publicized.
- Now, it’s time to conduct the online sale.
- Like a regular store, your online venture is also going to require time to catch up. So, do not get discouraged on the first day.
- As already mentioned, you might prefer allowing certain discounts to begin with. This will attract potential customers.
- If you have already resold some items on sites like Ebay and Amazon, your loyal clientèle may like your site too.
- It is a good idea to write product reviews for such sites before beginning your own store.
- Once people begin trusting your brand and provide good customer feedback, you are all set! Your online clothing store will now be an exclusive store catering to all the customers and providing excellent service.
Running a business has never been easy. But it’s the 21st century, and getting internet-savvy is the way to be. Innumerable people run online stores and other businesses; if you put in your best, your store will be a resounding success.