Starting an online clothing store is a hugely exciting endeavor. If you’re feeling an equal amount of excitement and panic, that’s understandable. There’s a lot to be done! This article will help you start your online clothing store without becoming overwhelmed.
- The differences between selling clothes online and offline
- What you need to start an online clothing business
- How to create your online clothing store, get your inventory, and price your products
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E-Commerce Clothing Store vs. Brick-and-Mortar Clothing Store
There are several differences between an e-commerce clothing store and a brick-and-mortar clothing store:
- Location: An e-commerce store sells clothes online, and a brick-and-mortar store sells products in person.
- Overhead: Operating expenses for an e-commerce store are significantly lower than those of a physical store. Rather than paying rent, utilities, and insurance, an online clothing store only has to cover the cost of its domain, hosting, and internet.
- Marketing: An online clothing store markets exclusively online, often using social media, paid search, SEO, email, and content marketing. Offline stores use these same digital marketing strategies and also incorporate traditional advertising such as print, radio ads, and even TV commercials.
- Customer interaction: An offline clothing store has the advantage of interacting with customers face to face. This allows for a one-on-one experience that can firmly establish a positive personal relationship. Online stores can still compete here by being active on social media, sending personalized emails, and responding to customer reviews.
What Do You Need to Start an Online Clothing Business?
Sales for e-commerce stores are exploding right now, so it’s the perfect time to launch your online clothing business. There are several things you should have before starting your clothing store:
Identify Your Products and Target Market
The products you sell and the people you sell them to are the core parts of any business, so it’s essential to complete this step before moving further. You likely already have a general idea of what type of clothing you want to sell. Take that general idea and break it down into more detail.
If you want to sell formal wear, will you carry styles for both men and women? Will you sell shoes and accessories too? Are the clothing styles classic and sophisticated or wild and fun?
The type of clothing you want to sell should give you an idea about who your target market is. From there, use the following questions to help you start your market research and get a clearer picture of your ideal customer.
- What age group are they in?
- What is their income level?
- What are their likes and dislikes?
- What are their purchase behaviors?
- Where do they spend time online?
The more detailed you get here, the easier it is when it comes time to design or purchase your products, create your marketing campaigns, and engage with your customers.
Write a Business Plan
A well-researched business plan helps you create a successful e-commerce store by identifying your marketing and operational strategies. A business plan sounds intimidating, but it’s manageable if you break it down into its main components. You can follow this simple business plan template to guide you through the process or use our one-page business plan to get a high-level view of your thoughts.
Make Your Business Legal
You’ll need a business license, sales tax license, and federal tax ID to operate your business legally. Depending on your state, there may be additional requirements, so be sure to check with your Secretary of State office or local Small Business Association office.
Registering your business with the state you operate in is usually simple and inexpensive. The fee for many states is about $100. Search “Secretary of State” and your state’s name to find your local process for registering a business entity.
You should also be able to find information about a sales tax license on the secretary of state website. A federal tax ID is a number the IRS assigns as a way to identify your business. Registering for a federal tax identification number is simple and free.
It’s important to take care of these licenses and registrations before you start making sales. Without them, you could face fines and other penalties for noncompliance.
5 Steps to Create Your Online Clothing Store
Now that you know what type of clothes you want to sell, your target marketing, and selling strategy, you’re ready to start your online clothing store. Here are the steps you’ll need to follow to create your e-commerce store successfully:
- Choose an e-commerce platform: The e-commerce platform is where your online shop lives. There are many options for this, but two of the most popular are Shopify and WooCommerce.
- Select a domain name: Ideally, your domain name will be the same as your business name. However, if that’s not available, choose a domain name that incorporates your business name and is easy to remember. For example, if your company name is Aviva, you can make your domain name shopaviva.com.
- Customize your digital store: Select a store template that’s responsive ― meaning it’s mobile-friendly ― and has an attractive, uncluttered design.
- Add your products: Upload high-quality images of your products and write descriptions that include keywords.
- Publish and promote your digital store: Hit “publish” to make your site live, and then hit the ground running with the marketing strategy you devised in your business plan.
Where To Get Your Clothing Inventory
Where you get your clothing inventory depends on whether you want to create original clothing designs or sell wholesale items. If you want to sell your own designs, you’ll need to locate a clothing manufacturer. If you plan to sell wholesale, you’ll need a wholesale clothing vendor. When choosing the right manufacturer or vendor, consider the order minimums, whether they provide product samples, their level of quality, and their reputation within the industry.
Whether you’re designing your clothes or going the wholesale route, it’s a good idea to create a spreadsheet to help you track the details of each manufacturer or vendor you look at.
Don’t feel pressured to make any quick decisions. Take your time to evaluate each option before deciding which supports your business goals best.
How To Price Products in Your Online Clothing Store
Pricing your products can be extremely complicated. There are numerous pricing strategies available, and the best one depends on whether your place in the market, such as high-end, middle, or low-end.
However, there’s a formula you can use to simplify things:
Cost of goods + profit margin = selling price.
The cost of goods is based on the prices you pay to create or purchase the products. The profit margin is the amount you want to earn from each sale. You express the profit margin as a percentage.
For example, if you want to earn a 30% profit margin on a shirt that costs $20, your profit margin for this item would come to $6 (30 cents x $20 = $6). Plug these numbers into the formula and you have $20 + $6 = $26 selling price.
There’s a lot that goes into launching a successful online clothing business. If you take it step-by-step as we’ve shown in this article, your online store will be ready to go before you know it.