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How to Start an Online Clothing Business

Table of Contents

#1. Step 1: choose a niche and target audience
#2. Step 2: choosing a business model and suppliers
#3. Step 3: determine the platform and design
#4. Step 4: launch a marketing campaign
#5. Step 5: start selling clothes

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Nowadays, anyone with an idea, network connectivity and entrepreneurial spirit can start an online business. The easiest way to do this is by selling clothes, as they are most in demand, segmented by a huge number of niches and do not require special conditions for storage and delivery. From our article you will learn what you need to do to open an online clothing store.

Step 1: choose a niche and target audience

For the success of your online store, it is important not only to choose the right market (selling clothes), but also to find in it an area, segment, place - a niche that is not yet occupied or underused by competitors. This will create a unique user experience and thereby bypass competitors in the selected niche (even a very small).

Niche selection will affect:

  • the business plan of your project;
  • portrait of potential buyers;
  • the appearance of the point of sale (website, marketplaces, social networks);
  • store positioning and marketing policy.
 

A niche can be wide, for example, for men, women, children’s or sportswear, or narrow, for example, T-shirts, jeans, swimwear, underwear, school suits or clothes for dolls. The narrower the niche, the better, because it will allow you to concentrate on a narrower target audience.

You can choose a niche based on your experience and preferences, but you can bet on analytical tools, such as Google Trends, and analysis of competitor sites: Amazon, AliExpress, Oberlo, Trend Hunter and others.

Google Trends is very simple to use, just enter keywords such as “buy a school suit”, time interval, search category and select a country. The system will show how, where and when this request is popular. So you can analyze and compare different requests and thus understand what customers want.

Start an Online Clothing Business Google Trends

Popularity of “buy a school suit”, “buy a swimsuit” and “buy denim shorts” queries in the USA

Analyzing Oberlo. A web platform where online store owners are looking for wholesale suppliers. To search for popular products, go to Resources → Find Trending Products. The system will show the goods that are in greatest demand. To analyze a category, enter its name in the Get more product suggestions field (lower on the screen).

Popular Oberlo Products Start an Online Clothing Business

Popular Oberlo Products

Analyzing Amazon. The most famous and most expensive marketplace in the world, on the site of which more than 5 billion products are sold annually. To search for the most popular products, go to the section Best Sellers → Clothing. Amazon has a personalized search, so it's best to analyze trends on a new, clean account.

Amazon Best Sellers Start an Online Clothing Business

Amazon Best Sellers

Analyzing AliExpress. A platform often used by online stores around the world to find suppliers. The most purchased items in Popular. There is no separate section for clothes. The listing is organized into fairly general categories (Bathroom Products, Sports Clothing, etc.) and keywords.

Analyzing AliExpress Start an Online Clothing Business

Analyzing Trend Hunter. The site was created specifically to search for current trends, in particular to help with the selection of products for online stores. There is no list of popular products and keywords on it; instead, the site describes popular trends, target groups and gives recommendations.

Analysis Example Start an Online Clothing Business

Trend Hunter Analysis Example

Where else to look. In addition to the aforementioned sites, you can search for information on current trends for online clothing stores on TrendWatching and PSFK, in wish lists on Wanelo, Polyvore, Wishlistr and Fancy.

Step 2: choosing a business model and suppliers

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There are five major business models in the online clothing business:

Print On Demand. Start an Online Clothing Business

  • Print On Demand. Suitable for those who want to launch an online clothing store as soon as possible and for relatively little money. To start, you need to buy t-shirts, pants, shorts, socks or other clothes without images and markings (blanks), as well as a digital inkjet printer for printing on clothes. The main advantage of this model is simplicity, the disadvantage is the low rate of return.
Demand Start an Online Clothing Business
Demand printing service example. Source of the image
An example of an online business built on this model is Printify. This is a web service where you can either buy a T-shirt, bag or pillow with an original print, or launch your own online store using Printify functionality.

To start such a business, you need up to $ 500 and about a month of time, most of which will be spent on creating your own website and promoting it. Buying a printer for printing on clothing is optional; you can rent it or use services such as Printify.

  • Wholesale/Private Label. This option is similar to custom printing, but a little more complicated. It implies the purchase at wholesale prices of a large number of clothes without tags, markings, images and other things (blanks). Then you put on the blanks the name of your brand and your chosen image. Usually sports teams, bloggers, musicians and other media personalities do this.
Branded Start an Online Clothing Business
Branded t-shirts of the eSport team Natus Vincere
You can apply images either on your own, or order branded clothing that is completely ready for sale from the manufacturer. However, in any case, you will need a warehouse for storing clothes and an online platform for selling it.

Depending on the complexity of your clothes, launching a store may require from 2 to 50 thousand investments. So, if it’s just a sale of branded clothing, then you need funds to purchase clothes, rent a warehouse, launch a website and pay for the work of the staff who will do this. You can buy blanks on the ThreadBird and Just Like Hero sites or their analogues in your country.

  • Custom Cut & Sew Clothing Line. This model assumes that you will be engaged in absolutely everything - from sketching and searching for fabric suppliers to marketing and sales. Launching such an online clothing store will require a lot of effort, tens, or even hundreds of thousands of investments, up to a year’s time.
Christina Economou Start an Online Clothing Business
Christina Economou - an example of an online personal clothing line store
To launch a personal clothing line, you need to develop models, find suppliers of fabrics, a manufacturer who will work with small batches, create several samples of finished products and conduct research / surveys on whether someone will buy these products. Everything needs from 10 thousand dollars and from several months to a year of time.
  • Dropshiping. Such a business model involves the creation of an online clothing store that will engage in intermediary services between wholesale manufacturers and buyers. You do not produce or store anything, but you are looking for a buyer and immediately send his order to the clothing manufacturer or wholesale supplier, who will mail the clothes to the buyer by mail.
Dropship-clothes.com Start an Online Clothing Business
Dropship-clothes.com is an example of a clothing dropshipping web site
This model is usually used to sell clothing manufactured abroad if the brand does not have an official representative office in the country. You can use platforms such as Oberlo or Dropified to search for suppliers; for implementation, various marketplaces and your website.
  • Classic store. The most ordinary clothing store, but online. You buy various clothes, rent a warehouse and sell goods via the Internet. Most online stores use this business model. To launch it, you need several thousand dollars or hundreds if you will sell used clothes.
Creating a site is optional. Many earn by selling clothes on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook(how to create own social networks) and Amazon. The product range is selected according to personal preference or based on trends.

Step 3: determine the platform and design

Largest marketplaces Start an Online Clothing Business
Largest marketplaces by region. Source of the image
Marketplaces. There are several ways to sell clothes online. The easiest is marketplaces. Anyone can create an account on eBay, Amazon, Alibaba or another site and use this platform to sell any clothes. Actually, the majority does so. It’s fast, cheap and simple, but it’s very difficult to stand out from the competition and find your client.

Social networks. You can still sell clothes on Instagram and Pinterest. Usually, social networks use to sell used clothes or things made by their own hands. Large brands prefer to use these sites to promote and redirect traffic to their sites.

Own website. The easiest way to create it is with the help of special e-commerce platforms that are customized for the launch of online stores. Usually these are template solutions with design customization options, content management system, e-commerce tools, etc. Here are some of these platforms:

  1. Free plugin for CRM WordPress based sites. It has all the functions necessary for an online store, including a shopping cart and payment gateways. To launch the site, just select a WordPress theme for an online clothing store, such as Stylista or Fashow, and fill it with your own products. No programming skills needed.
  2. Canadian SaaS platform, which runs every tenth online store on the Internet. Shopify focuses on mobile sales. To use, you need to subscribe - from $ 29 / month.
  3. An open source platform that is used by both small and large businesses, such as Pepe Jeans, Burger King and Huawei. To launch a Magento-based site, you need a team of e-commerce developers and a subscription - from 2 thousand dollars a year.
  4. BigCommerce, Yanostore, Oracle Commerce, Demandware, osCommerce and other e-commerce platforms.
In addition, an online store site can be created from scratch by hiring outsourced web developers. It is longer and more expensive, but you can create a project with a unique design and unique features.

Whichever platform you choose, you will need to customize it for yourself: choose a design, color scheme, create a logo, and more. All this can be done based on personal preferences (if you have good taste) or using special web services:

  1. Adobe Color. It will help you choose the color scheme for your project. The site has tools for selecting colors and ready-made palettes.
  2. LogoJoy. A set of tools for creating a logo. The site asks several questions to find out your preferences, shows several examples, makes it possible to select one or more logo elements, and based on these data creates several dozen logos.
  3. Maker's Row, FactoryFinder, CALA, Sqetch and Sewport. They will help to move from an idea to a finished product if you plan to launch your own clothing line.

Step 4: launch a marketing campaign

The goal of marketing is to drive traffic and / or launch sales. Achieve this in such ways:
  1. Contextual advertising. The main plus - will allow you to get the first visitors immediately after launch, the minus - is expensive and there is a danger of wasting money if you set up the advertisement incorrectly. For advertising to work correctly, it is better to seek help from specialists.
  2. SMM marketing. Promotion on social networks is good because, according to recent studies, low-cost advertising in small communities is more effective: 5-10% conversion versus 1-2%.
  3. Industry blog. It brings targeted traffic to your site across a wide range of mid- and low-frequency queries. Potential customers look for useful information on the topic of clothing (instructions, tops, news and articles about fashion, famous models, fashion designers and couturiers) and get to the website of your online store. They will go, read, and then buy!
  4. Advertising on third-party resources. Use all the platforms for which there is enough money: banners on other platforms, advertising with bloggers, forums, videos on Youtube. Wherever there is a target audience, there should be an advertisement for your online clothing store.
  5. Referral programs. They will require special tools that will be able to track customers and their activity if they got to the site via a special link.

Step 5: start selling clothes

The launch of your site should be the event that they are waiting for and talked about. To achieve this, you need to attract the attention of buyers with various stocks. For example, you can reward first buyers with big discounts, bonuses, gifts and other things that attract and increase the loyalty of potential buyers.

In addition, you can reward first buyers with unique terms of loyalty programs, discount cards and other things that are useful in the long run.

Merehead does professional development of Online Clothing Business. If you have questions, contact us for a free consultation.
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