How to start and grow an Online Clothing Store
Us girls, we just love to buy clothes! If you have a passion for fashion and love styling, starting an online clothing store may be the perfect business for you! Planning to have kids and grow your family? Running a business from home can be a win-win for stay-home moms. Read on to learn a few tips and understand your target audience before starting your own successful online business!
- Start Up Tips
- Cost and Expenses
- Starting your own clothing line
- Obstacles and challenges
Unlike traditional boutiques, the costs for starting up an online business are much lower, though there are still expenses that needs to take into considerations:
- Marketing Cost: This can become a huge cost if you believe in your brand and want to get your products out. You will need to advertise your products initially if you want more people to know about your clothes. Marketing cost includes the most basic advertising fees such as Google Adwords and Affiliate Marketing.
- Website Development: There will certainly be fees involved with the design process, hosting your website, implementing web tools for your website, and there are so much more costs involved if you want to have a responsive eCommerce Design. I have tried out and reviewed both Volusion and Shopify many years ago before I even started running my own online store. I honestly don’t remember much about Volusion but I pretty much clicked away within the first few minutes. I guess in my opinion, it wasn’t very user-friendly back then. Five years ago, Shopify was still pretty new but they have improved significantly since. I am so glad that I made the right choice without knowing much about e-commerce back then. Quite lucky I would say. Shopify starts from 29.99 per month and their advanced plan cost $299 per month. With additional applications add-ons to my store right now, my monthly fee alone for Shopify usage ( like paying rent ) go up to $600 a month at least. But this is considered nothing compare to the huge marketing cost that I am paying for every month. What I like about Shopify is that the interface is not only user-friendly, their customer service respond very quickly as well. Not to mention the pre-made E-commerce Website Template they have available for you to quickly install a professional looking online clothing store.
- Postage: This is another big cost for you, the more the merrier! You will know you are selling well if your postage goes up unless you picked an extremely bulky and heavy item to sell. In that case, you may want to reconsider selling something lighter to save that postage up! I always thought selling jewelry was a pretty smart move given how light a piece of jewelry can be yet the value is there!
- Graphic Designer: Unless you are a Photographer or an AI / Photoshop expert, you might need to get yourself a good graphic designer to help you with branding your online presence. You will not believe the amount of work you need when it comes to graphic materials. This include your newsletter banners, store front banners, promotional banners, product shot touch ups, social media banners, logos, fonts for your website, printing materials, packaging, the list goes on…
- Social Media: Of course, opening social media accounts is free of charge and most of them generate traffics to your website over time if you consistently share valuable content. However, if you want to grow your following through social media, there are generally cost involves. Perhaps, you want to start a collaboration with a blogger you found on Instagram, they generally charge a fee and depending on their following, it can go from a few hundred dollars to a 5 figure number… But it is of course for you to decide whether it’s worth it to pay that much for some social media exposure. Not to mention how fake followings are everywhere on Instagram nowadays. From my experience, I learnt that most famous people including celebrities or top-tier bloggers do direct new followers to follow your accounts or even visit your website. But keep in mind, they may not necessarily drive a high conversions. There are so much behind achieving a high conversion rate, the key is to really find the right target market for your brand and really understand what you are trying to sell. Once you get everything right including your branding, pricing strategy, design process, products that offer not only a tangible good or a service, but also creates a unique value or experience for your customer. Only then will you know what kind of ambassador is right for your products.
Sourcing for your online clothing store
The internet is your friend! It depends on whether you want to make your own clothing line or carry other designers and resell it on your e-commerce platform.
Make your own clothing line
You can search ‘wholesale’ on google, and you will start finding different wholesale suppliers and one of the biggest source is definitely China, a well-known source – AliExpress. Pretty much everything is made in China, I am not saying there is a problem with ordering from China, I do too but from personal experience, the downside is that the quality may not be guaranteed, communication may be a problem if you can’t communicate in Chinese, and expect a delay and over-promising. If you are living in the US, then you can test out the new launch from Shopify where they allow sellers to find popular items to sell online. This platform allow sellers to find wholesale suppliers and distributors online.
Sell designer clothing on your new e-commerce platform
The benefit of distributing well-known or popular designer clothing on your online store is that it helps with google ranking and SEO of your website.
How to be a stockist of a designer brand?
To stock a brand on your online clothing store, you will first need to have a professional looking website. When I first started years ago, these showrooms in Hong Kong where they carry international designer brands from overseas do not trust online platforms as stockist and they tend not to work with you. But I am sure the game is different now. To name a few, back then I was carrying Wildfox, Motel Rocks, Bella Luxx, Skinny and Rich Jeans also available on Shopbop when I first started. I quickly switched to selling my own label because the cost to stock designer brands was too high.
Each showroom carry one to a few brands and they usually send out each season’s line sheets to your email or invite you to their shows. They always have a minimum order requirement ( it can’t be cheap if you are going to stock more than one brands ). The challenge is you better know what’s the biggest hit for the upcoming season because you are pre-ordering for next season’s clothing for your online clothing store. You only have one chance, otherwise you are left with unwanted old designer clothes that nobody wants. I still have some Wildfox tees that I now use as pajamas. Yawn.
Don’t be afraid to start!
Starting a business is not going to be easy, but if you have a passion for fashion. You should give it a try! I learnt so much along the way. It takes me to limitless opportunities. Being an entrepreneur has certainly broadened my horizons. For one, I wouldn’t be blogging if I haven’t started running my online clothing store. It is because of the amount of time I deal with different fashion bloggers, TV personalities and celebrities when I was running my online boutique that I learn and fell in love with blogging. Apart from running an online business, blogging has become my creative outlet where I share the love of fashion and my personal style.