Prior to starting any online business, there are a handful of crucial steps that any budding entrepreneur must move through. Essentially, you are coming up from nothing, and the key question to ask yourself is: “What makes my business unique?” In this article, we’ll explore how to apply self-made skills to a business to make it stand out from the competition; and specifically how to start an online clothing store.
Step 1: Gather Your Ideas Together
In other words: brainstorm. Whether it’s by yourself or with a group of creative, business-savvy friends, this will help you establish a cohesive foundation from which to develop your booming business venture.
Here’s some apparatus to help focus your brainstorming:
Who is your ideal customer? Ask yourself what you want to represent with your style. Since this is a clothing store, there’s a natural inclination to start with a particular age group. This can be a helpful way to find your niche, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be your beginning point.
Your style can represent culture as you know it. This gives you a huge range to work in- from trendy, modern looks to older, vintage styles. Consider taking your research further and looking at the highest-selling styles right now.
Ask yourself why you’re starting this business in the first place. Why do you want to know how to start an online clothing store? Why does it matter to you? These are important questions to steer you as you move forward, so all your time and investment don’t go to waste.
Maybe you have a talent for sketching clothes and want to monetize this skill. Or do you have a love for fashion and want to start a little side business? Keep your answers in mind as you’re starting an online clothing store.
Keep Your Friends Close:
It’s pretty universally deemed bad luck to go into business with friends, but it would be unwise to get started without getting some outside insight- whether from a cherished relationship or a mere acquaintance.
With a task this immense (and ultimately rewarding), you will need a support group. Even if you plan to go solo on this particular adventure, gather intel from friends, cubicle mates, and colleagues.
Every successful business starts off from a great idea, and what better way is there to gather ideas? Collect what data you can about online business practices and the fashion world, combine it with what you have, and you’ll ultimately end up with a general layout and a clearer vision for starting an online clothing store.
Step 2: Brainstorm your Products
Next up: focus on the product. When learning how to start an online clothing store, you’ll need to learn the ins and outs of operating in the clothing business in an efficient, straightforward way.
FounderU, and other online resources, are loaded with “How To” articles, so make use of the resources available to you. Here are some additional FounderU resources to aid your learning on how to start an online clothing store:
- 7 Steps to Creating Picture-Perfect Product Images
- How to Sell Online: Advice from 7 Entrepreneurs
- 5 Keys to Using Social Media for Your Online Store
- How to Grow Your Online Business Using Selz
- How to Promote Your Business on Facebook and Instagram
Study different brands of clothing to see what makes them sell. Research in this business can be looking up fashion icons online, or even walking around the mall to gain inspiration and pick up tips on sales technique. Pay particular attention to the styles and the materials used.
Here are some tips for choosing products when starting an online clothing store:
It’s Not a Popularity Contest
Clothing is a crowded market, so you need to be unique to stand out. You might find it helpful to look at styles that are popular right now. Consider looking for inspiration in areas outside of fashion as well- remember, it’s your bold vision that is going to sell. Your definition of popular is whatever you strive to make it.
Focus on your Interests
Take what fascinates or inspires you most about clothing and apply it as you start an online clothing business.
Start off Simple
It’s alright if your styles don’t quite have the degree of flair you envision when you’re just getting started. The most important thing right now is getting started. Sketch your ideas. You’ll be amazed at the end results you can derive from random sketches. Ready to take the first step? Start building your new online store today with Selz. Sign up for a free 14-day trial here.
How can you prevent your online clothing store from failing down the road? It’s a hard thing to think about this early in the process, but important all the same!
Key question: what could potentially happen to cause an upheaval in your business, and how can you prepare ahead of time? Key tip: style is always changing.
When learning how to start an online clothing store, you’ll want to make sure and find ways to stay ahead of the curve. This can take the form of a mantra that you physically write down and post where you will consistently see it.
When starting an online clothing store, your product inventory will be ever-changing, and it will take creativity and innovation, as well as initiative, focus, and professionalism to stay on top.
Choose your Focus
Choose whether you want to focus on one specific article of clothing or a range. You’ll generally have better luck with more variety, but if you are drawn to a particular item and see a niche for it, then consider starting there and expanding your inventory in the long run.
Step 3: Create/Find your Products
There’s a ton of ways to get going after learning how to start an online clothing store, but it generally starts with your products. Now that you have an idea of what you want to sell, it’s time to create those items.
This is a golden moment to use any skills you have for knitting, sewing, crocheting, etc. You’ll be getting great practice as you go, so don’t worry if your first pieces aren’t perfect- you’ll need to strengthen these skills, and practice is the best way to improve.
This is an excellent way to pass any idle time during the beginning stages of starting your online clothing store. You don’t necessarily have to make everything from scratch, either. Consider finding styles you like at vintage and thrift stores and updating them to a more modern aesthetic.
Not looking to hand-make garments? That’s no obstacle to starting your online clothing business. You can look into purchasing product from a dropshipper or consider connecting with a screen-printing company to add your custom designs to t-shirts, hoodies, etc.
Step 4: Get the Word Out
Begin this phase by asking yourself, “What attracts customers to my site?” If you want to know how to start an online store, this step is extremely vital to your success. In literature, there is a term known as a hook, referring to the opening sentence of a publication that immediately draws the reader into the story. So what will grab the attention of your customers? What is your particular hook?
Social media has become a huge part of any advertising plan. Facebook is obviously a very popular choice, due to the sheer amount of profiles and the traffic that the site receives.
However, the visual focus of Instagram makes it an excellent choice for an online clothing store, and Tumblr is a good option if you would like more of a blog format to advertise your products.
Because Instagram is photo-based, it provides a way to easily model the clothes you make. If there’s a new style you want people to see, post a picture on Instagram. Whether you model the styles yourself or have friends who model for you, this is an excellent way to advertise the plethora of styles you have to offer.
With social media, the best approach is to test out different platforms and find where your target audience is most engaging. Instagram is the best place to start, but don’t ignore other platforms such as Snapchat and Pinterest!
Vlogging is another visual method to advertise your product. This gives you the opportunity to connect with your customers in a more in-depth manner and talk about the materials you use and show off certain outfits and combinations of your products.
Make a catchy hashtag to simplify the task of looking up your business and spreading the word that you are starting an online clothing store. Twitter and Instagram are particularly well-suited to advertising via hashtags.
Google AdWords and Facebook Advertising are both helpful ways to get your message out to potential customers that would be unlikely to find your store otherwise. There are a range of ways that you can target each of these, so spend time figuring out your audience and ideal customer as you craft your message. Facebook also lets you boost posts that you think could have a particularly strong impact. This can be a great way to get the word out about local events and sales.
Content marketing is a great way to drive traffic to your store without spending a dime. Your Selz store can easily integrate with existing blogs on sites like WordPress, or you can choose to host a blog section within your store itself. Regardless, strong content builds a connection with your audience. Consider including fashion tips, how-to videos, advice on working with certain materials, and anything else you think your customers will find valuable and engaging.
With a little work, email can become an incredibly valuable part of your marketing platform. From sending out coupons and special offers to announcing the launch of new products, email is one of the easiest ways to connect with interested customers.
Abandoned cart emails are a particularly useful tool. According to the Baymard Institute, nearly 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned before checkout- so one simple email reminder can be a huge resource for regaining the interest of those customers.
You will need to build up your email list over time, so consider different ways to gather this information. You can easily connect your Selz store to email marketing services through Zapier, making automation a snap.
Looking for a more in-depth guide into marketing your new online clothing store? Check out this Founder’s Guide to Promoting your Online Store.
Step 5: Set up your Finances
It’s time to budget. Learning how to responsibly gauge a sustainable income off your talent is rewarding and a valuable skill to have for future endeavors. One of the many benefits of starting starting an online clothing store is getting to learn business-savvy skills that are applicable across a range of industries.
Do Further Research
How much will you need to spend on materials? With this in mind, what will the prices on your store eventually look like? In other words: are you earning an incentive? Because this is an online business, you’ll also need to factor in shipping fees, and any other related incidentals.
Quantity Over Quality (For Now)
When the business is first starting out, sell in small quantities to get an idea of where your profit leads you. You’ll want to gain early insight on the growth of the company.
Never stop learning. Read articles and books on marketing strategies. Keep your business afloat by doing constant research and consulting business colleagues and online resources (like FounderU) for advice.
Step 6: Manage your Inventory
Have a responsible person (such as yourself) handle inventory! Keep tabs on popular items, and make sure you have plenty in stock. You’ll want to check back regularly to prevent items from dipping too low, so think about systems you can put in place to track sales.
From a statistical standpoint, this information will help you see which parts of your store do best, and what kinds of items consumers look to buy from you. When a business takes off, having an efficiently organized inventory is incredibly helpful- especially during periods where there is a large product demand, i.e. during the holidays or an extravagant sale.
Step 7: Build your Online Store
As we discussed before, the toughest part for most entrepreneurs learning how to start an online clothing store is creating a unique business in a crowded marketplace. Your products are only as good as they are presented online. You want everything from the look of your store to the checkout process to be simple and easy for the customer to follow. Your website should be stylish, easy-to-navigate, and project an air of trustworthiness.
Here’s a unique idea to keep in mind for your online store:
One of the biggest stresses for customers shopping for clothes online is not being positive you are ordering the right size! Stand out by developing a creative method in which customers can determine accurate size descriptions- whether via a detailed sizing chart tailored to your store, or even a tool in which they can virtually try on clothes. Make sure to include high-quality images of the clothes you are selling.
Check out this beautiful online clothing boutique built on Selz:
Creating an online store may sound like a daunting task, but we’re here to simplify it. You don’t need to hire a professional website designer to get a stunning online store up and running in less than a day.
You’re here because you wanted to know how to start an online clothing store, and we’re here to help! Selz is built for seriously simple selling and provides all the assistance you could possibly need to get started, from online help articles to our exhaustive blog for online entrepreneurs.
Our website builder makes it seriously simple to drag and drop all the pieces you need for a stylish, professional online store. Selz also makes it easy to create widgets for a range of online platforms, so you can sell from every corner of the internet.
Originally published at founderu.selz.com on November 27, 2017.