10 Steps to Open an Online Clothing Store
Setting up an online clothing store is a Herculean task if you start it incorrectly. Knowing exactly what to do will facilitate the process. This will save you time and money, and bring in huge earnings later on. To help you in establishing your online clothing store without the fuss and problems, here are specific steps on how you should go about it.
Step #1 - Prepare your business plan
Before anything else, you have to prepare a detailed business plan that will serve as a blueprint of what you intend to do. Be organized. List down your steps chronologically and follow them diligently. Cross down each step after accomplishing it. Remember to include the vision, mission and goals of your business.
Step #2 - Brand your products
The brand has to represent your product convincingly. For flexibility, it should be non-exclusive and can be accessible through ACN and ABN. In addition, your brand must have a captivating logo and a catchy slogan.
The brand must also be easily incorporated to domain names. It's good practice to have the same brand name and domain name for SEO purposes such as, keyword optimization.
Step #3 - Identify your target market
Identifying your target market will assist you in choosing your products. Selecting target clients can help bolster your first sales' ventures. The different seasons can serve as markers for you, as well.
Likewise, your target clients' demographics can aid you in selecting appropriate products for your online clothing store. You can ask yourself the following questions: "What are the most needed items during this season?" "What do my clients need the most in this particular area?"
Step #4 - Choose your products
Based on step #3, you can now choose your products. Select products that are needed for your target clients. You can conduct a test run by asking the opinions and feedbacks of a diverse group of potential customers after an initial online run. Summarize their observations and make this as a basis of your product selection.
Step #5 - Create your online store
The next step is to create your online store. There are two ways to do it;
- Registering with a Shopping Cart such as Shopify
- Putting up your own website
Registering with a Shopping Cart such as, Shopify is the easiest and smartest method for new, small-time entrepreneurs. You can eventually expand, when your business prospers.
Advantages of using Shopping Carts such as, Shopify
- Products can be live online as soon as you register
- No hosting fees and domain name charges
- HTML expertise is not required, but if you're an expert, you can tweak it, if you want
- Upgrading is available anytime that your store grows bigger
- Flexible and maximized templates for optimum product display
- Trust certificates available
- No need for expensive web designers
- Shopify provides easy and quick editing and manipulation of your products, logos, payment scheme and displays
On the other hand, creating your own website for your online clothing store can be tedious, difficult and expensive. Most especially if you're starting your business with a limited capital. However, there are some advantages in creating your own website.
Advantages of creating your own website
- Absolute control
- More displayed items
- Excellent for big online stores
Step #6 - Purchase a domain name
You can use Shopify to integrate your domain name, or you can purchase directly for your website. There are various domain name providers you can purchase from. Preferably, your domain name should be your brand name. Choose a provider that has a good track record by reading online reviews about their services.
Step #7 - Purchase your webhosting services
If you have decided to create your own website, then you have to purchase a webhosting service too. Select a webhost that provides excellent customer service and a reliable staff. A dedicated server is best for big companies and shared hosting is good for small businesses.
Step #8 - Design your website
You may need a website designer, if you have created your own website and you're not an HTML expert. Decide on your design first before consultation to minimize expenses.
Your website must have the following characteristics:
- Easy to navigate
- Visually attractive
- Easy to read
- Quick to explore
Your website must contain the following pages:
- About us
- Contact us
- Collections - a detailed description must accompany each item
- Featured products - these can be new products or most sold products
- Payment method - the most common is PayPal or credit cards
- Shipping and return details
- Link to your blog/s
Step #9 - Display your products
Display your products suitably by double checking the name tags, sizes, labels and prices. Provide sizes using the different measurement units for your international clients. Put your best foot forward by showing your clients the best products in your store. Remember to include shipping charges and other necessary fees. Moreover, include specific instructions for cases when products are returned.
Step #10 - Advertise, advertise, and advertise
This is a crucial step for your online clothing store. No matter how good your product is if no one knows about it, then it won't sell. Hence, advertise, advertise, and advertise. There are numerous methods to do this.
Methods of online advertising for your clothing store
- Enlist your product website in Search Engines - Google and Yahoo are the two largest online giants that you can utilize to advertise your product. You may want to register on all the other Search Engines, which are accessible online to maximize your exposure. These are free services so grab them.
Consequently, you can use paid Google Ads, where you use AdWords and paid links to advertise your products through Google's Search Engine. It's recommended that you join Google's and Yahoo's shopping sites by registering for free.It's free to use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to increase your ranking in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). All you have to do is to optimize the keywords in your site. This will allow clients to access your website easily.
- Social media sites - You can advertise for free or via paid ads, through these sites:
- Facebook - Links and images
- Twitter - Links and images with not more than 40 words
- Instagram - Links and images
- LinkedIn - Links and images
- Pinterest - Links and images
- Google+ - Links and images
- YouTube - videos
- Tumblr - Links and images
- Ranking websites or directories such as, Alexa, Technorati and BlogTopSites - Links
- Blogs - Blogs are useful in spreading the word for your product. You can write a Guest Post for free, and in exchange, post a link to your product website. You can offer small gifts or coupons for the first 3 clients, or offer discounts for your first 100 customers. Develop a superb marketing strategy to attract your buyers.
- Emails - Emails are excellent advertising tools. You can personalize your newsletters or ads with your recipients' preferences. Make sure to be persuasive but not rude. Don't spam your potential clients. Develop a style that can subtly advertise your products without irritating the customer. This means your primary targets are people whom you personally know.
- Newsletters - These are useful to inform existing and old clients about new products or sales promos. This is also another valid way of keeping in touch with your clients.
Methods of offline advertising for your clothing store
It's imperative that you'll have to learn about these offline methods because these are sub-methods to boost your online sales. For offline advertising, your usual target clients are the members of your local community. Again, you have to sell offline to let people know of your online business.
You can utilize these methods for your offline advertising:
- Stores - Offline, this is the most common because you meet your client directly to sell your product.
- Stalls - Not enough budget? Rent the less expensive stalls. You can slowly build your clothing empire. Search for marketing events and participate.
- Local markets - Selling in your local market can start the ball rolling.
- TV - Expensive but less taxing method of offline advertising for your clothing store.
- Radio - Your target are people who don't have time to read your clothing store ads in written form.
- Newspapers - This is usually for your coffee drinkers who enjoy a cup of coffee while reading the papers.
- Posters - Posters posted along strategic places can significantly increase your sales. Don't underestimate its power.
- Calling cards - Attend open houses or local events and distribute your calling cards to guests and friends. Take note to include the link to your website.
- Flyers - Assign friends or employees to distribute flyers along a busy street.
Remember to always include the link to your product website in all of your offline advertising campaigns. Otherwise, your efforts are rendered useless.
Step #11 - Earn your customers trust and maintain contact with them
You cannot succeed in sales if you don't know how to develop camaraderie with your customers. You must learn how to gain their trust and confidence in you and your products. Be sincere and genuinely concerned about their welfare, and they'll continue to be your clients as long as they live.
Word of mouth is still the best way to establish your integrity as a seller. When you're selling your products, you're selling yourself. Therefore, ensure that your clients get the best products for their money and your online clothing store will succeed in no time at all.
Do you have any tips for people starting their own online clothing store? Let us know in the comments.