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How To Start An Online Clothing Store: The Complete Guide For Boutique Owners

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How To Start An Online Clothing Store: The Complete Guide For Boutique Owners
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Guides & Advice
How To Start An Online Clothing Store: The Complete Guide For Boutique Owners

Interested in starting an online clothing store? Well, now is the best time to do it! Right now in the outbreak of COVID-19, it’s even more common to buy clothes online as people prefer to stay at home. 

Fashion is certainly one of the most profitable ecommerce niches. Statista predicts that the apparel, footwear, and accessories online retail sector in the U.S. will get a profit of about 153 billion dollars by 2024.

Elogic has been in the ecommerce business for 10+ years. We’ve built online stores for successful fashion brands (check out our projects – Joie, Marimekko, Amsale, Roller Rabbit ) and we’ve also seen dozens of fashion businesses appear and disappear. One of the biggest mistakes merchants make is not following all the necessary steps to starting an online clothing business.

In today’s guide, we will explain all the basic steps of starting your first clothing line from scratch to launch a fascinating, operational, and durable online clothing business. Carry on reading to learn useful tips on how to start an online clothing store that generates both traffic and revenue. Let’s get started!

How to build a clothing brand online

We’ve come up with 7 important steps to help you start an online retail clothing store. Take your time to go through each of these stages to ensure a successful launch.

Find your niche 

The first step to starting a clothing business is to figure out which clothing niche you wish to sell in. Finding the right niche will help you to select products that appeal to your potential customers. 

The better you understand the needs of your customers, the better your chances of producing goods your customers need. So how to opt for the best niche for the apparel business? Here are two major aspects to consider before deciding on your niche:

  • Select a clothing niche that you’re passionate about and have a great interest in.
  • Make sure the niche you opt for is in high demand to provide a potential income.

You can use marketing channels such as Amazon, Alibaba, and AliExpress to get insights into the most popular clothing categories. 

Amazon best sellers in women's clothing
Amazon best sellers in women’s clothing

Choose which clothing products to sell

Once you’ve decided on a niche, the next step is to choose exactly what your fashion boutique will sell online. What will you be selling: jeans or coats? The fashion market is almost endless, and there is a great variety of variants within the niche you’re trading in.

Here are some useful tips for picking products to sell online:

  • Start small

In the early stages of starting your own clothing store online, it’s better to start small and focus on one specific area. Of course, it’s quite tempting to offer various products for everyone. If you decide to launch a fashion store with designer clothes, plan to offer only men’s clothing or only women’s clothing. 

Or you decide to start a clothing shop that offers sports apparel. In such a case, don’t stir up trouble by adding to your product catalog random dresses and jewelry.  If your clothing store becomes a hit with shoppers and you there is a demand for other goods, then you can add them. Until then, focus on one particular type of clothes.

  • Plan for the future 

Planning for the future is also important when choosing what to sell online. Think about where you want to get with your fashion brand in the coming years, and bear in mind the ultimate goal. Make sure you will be able to add new or trending items to clothing lines easily.

To find out the right products to sell, carry out market share research. You can use different SEO tools such as Semrush and Moz to get insights on top-selling products on your competitors’ ecommerce stores. Moreover, you could also analyze different clothing brands to see what makes them generate profit.

A useful tool for figuring out popular products is Google Trends. This searching tool tells you how many Google users have searched for a certain product in recent years. 

Crop tops search on Googe Trends
Crop tops search on Googe Trends

Struggling to find high-profit margin products? Check out our blog post to find out trending products to sell online in 2020. 

Decide on your online clothing business model

Now that you have product ideas for your ecommerce business, it’s time to decide on a business model for your boutique. There are four main types of business models that online clothing businesses stores belong to:

  • Print-on-demand
  • A clothing line from scratch
  • Private label
  • Dropshipping

Let’s look at each of them in detail.

Print-on-demand 

Print-on-demand is the easiest type of online clothing business model that enables you to launch an online apparel store quickly, at low cost. You just need to print the desired design on blank apparel such as t-shirts, hats, bags, etc., using an inkjet printer. 

Printful is an example of a clothing store that runs a print-on-demand model. Customers can select from categories like women’s, men’s, kids, and youth clothing and then, customize clothes with inscriptions, labels, and prints. 

Printful's home page
Printful’s home page

The key benefit of a print-on-demand model is that it’s easy, cost-efficient in implementation, and fits start-ups companies that deal with limited numbers of orders. The main disadvantage of this model is low returns. 

Private Label 

With the private label model, you buy blank clothing items that come with no prints, logos, and then add your custom design to them. This business model is something in the middle between print-on-demand and designing a clothing line from scratch. You should find a private label-clothing manufacturer to produce your clothes. 

The major advantage of the private label model is that you have access to more customization in comparison to a print-on-demand model, but fewer expenses than cut-and-sew. The main disadvantage of this business model is that you need to deal with fulfillment and inventory management on your own. 

Dropshipping 

A dropshipping business model enables you to sell apparel directly from distributors. With a dropshipping model, you don’t have to care about things like inventory, stocking, shipping, and packaging, that can help you save the budget.

However, there are some drawbacks. For example, you won’t be able to create a one-of-a-kind brand. You’ll always be competing with hundreds of other ecommerce businesses who are selling the very same clothing items as you. 

A clothing line from scratch

This business model fits ecommerce businesses that don’t want to compromise on design and plan to create their clothing brand from the ground up. With this model, you are in charge of designing your clothing line, manufacturing, stocking, and shipping. Thus, you can make your fashion brand as unique as possible.

The key benefit of designing a clothing line from scratch is that you can make your fashion brand as unique as possible and customize it to your specific needs. 

However, there are also a few disadvantages of this business model, as you should deal with a lot of management, be in charge of coordinating the manufacturers, stocking and distributing your clothing item, etc. Be ready to invest a lot of money and be patient as it will take some time to launch your first line. 

Check out our article about types of ecommerce business models to help you make the right decision for your clothing business.

Create a business plan

Just like any other ecommerce business, an online clothing business will fail if you don’t have a good business plan. A business plan is crucial for new businesses that want to get funding for their business venture from investors. 

A solid business plan for a clothing business will help you outline your objectives, figure out business opportunities, spot potential obstacles, evaluate what resources you require, and evaluate the viability of your growth plans before you move to a new step. 

Business plan
Business plan. Image credit: Homecare Preferred Franchise

An effective business plan should outline who’s involved in the business and their responsibilities. You’ll need to give a detailed description of how your clothing line is going to start, grow, and scale. Your business plan should include such components as an executive summary, company description, products and services, market analysis, marketing plan, business operations, finances, and appendix.

Check out our recent step-by-step guide on how to develop an ecommerce business plan from scratch.

Find clothing manufacturers

No matter what the size of your ecommerce business, finding the right manufacturer is a significant part of any clothing brand success. To begin your search for the right manufacturer, ask for the contacts from your fellow sellers. Some of the greatest business partners come from referrals. 

Google is also a great resource to start searching for potential clothing manufacturers. It can generate a broad range of search results based on your niche. Don’t forget to network at trade shows, conferences, and wholesale markets. At such events, there are a great number of potential manufacturers at once. That will save you weeks of search efforts. 

Choosing a manufacturer who is credible and trustworthy is challenging, but don’t worry we came up with the guide on how to find a manufacturer to make the whole searching process a lot easier.

Choose an ecommerce platform and build your online store

Now comes the fun part: building your online clothing store. So, how to build an online clothing store? The key factor in creating the design of your online store with necessary functionality is choosing the right ecommerce platform that meets all your business requirements. 

There are a great variety of ecommerce solutions to select from, and you can narrow down your choices by taking into account such factors as pricing, functionality, ease of use, design options, performance, security, scalability, SEO (search engine optimization), payment options, and a lot more.

Need help choosing an ecommerce platform? These guides will help you select the right one for your business. 

As a website development company, we recommend you to use Magento to build an online clothing shop. Magento is a scalable open-source solution that fits small and enterprise-level businesses. The platform is used by many famous clothing brands, like Nike, Christian Louboutin, Helly Hansen, Lacoste, Mikimoto, and more. If your fashion clothing store deals with multiple products and the website is expected to manage large traffic, this is the best solution for your ecommerce business.

With this in mind, here is a step-by-step guide on “How To Build A Magento Website” to help you make the whole process smooth and fast. In the article, we mentioned the main steps you need to follow to build a fully operational ecommerce website. 

Build your website on Magento with Elogic

Check out our Magento development services

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Market your online clothing store

You’ve launched your online clothing store. The next step is to implement your marketing and sales strategies. These days, social networking (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) is an excellent way to market your online clothing store. 

Instagram is the best photo-based network for fashion brands, as you can demonstrate high-quality photos of your trending products and link these clothing items to the product page. Don’t forget to use hashtags so shoppers can find your products without hassle. 

Facebook is another great social media to market your online boutique. Their ads system is easy to navigate, allowing you to target your social media audience. To generate traffic to your fashion store, you just need to create an appealing advertisement, set it up, and monitor analytics. Remember to determine how much each click to your ecommerce site costs you, and how you can enhance that. 

Consider email marketing and content marketing. Both are amazing free tools to earn traffic over time. Content marketing enables you to add value to the store by discussing topics that your customers will be interested in. Abandoned shopping cart emails can boost conversion rates and recover sales.

One last things that we haven’t discussed so far are SEO (search engine optimization) and Google Adwords. Add highly searched keywords to your store to appear at the top of Google’s results. It’s also crucial to structure your website so that all the content can be easily indexed by Google’s web crawlers. Optimize your meta descriptions and page titles. 

There are a large number of other sales channels, but if you focus on the mentioned strategies, you’ll be able to reach enough customers to make your business profitable.

Time to make your first sale! 

If you’ve made it this far, you now fully aware of how to build a fashion brand online and are ready to start selling. It may seem a bit challenging at first, however, just concentrate on one step at a time and proceed further from there. 

We’ve worked with many fashion retailers, helping them build and support their Magento-powered shopping platforms and we understand that each fashion business has its unique requirements. If you need to receive a more detailed estimation of online retail startup costs or you want to know more about how to start an online apparel business, fill in the form below, and our managers will contact you shortly.

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