Before discussing how to start an eCommerce clothing business, let’s look at the opportunities that lie in the clothing industry.
Globally, clothing is a whopping 3,000 billion dollars industry!. And, it accounts for almost 2% of the world’s GDP.
What makes the fashion industry click is the fact that it’s an evergreen industry. So, there isn’t any seasonality or demand issue.
Also from the profitability point of view, clothing business is one of the best out there.
But, everything that shines isn’t gold. In today’s world, clothing merchants are fiercely competing against each other. In fact, in the US alone there are more than 1,00,000 clothing retail stores.
So, what is the solution to this ever-increasing competition?.
Try going online!. Yes, differentiate yourself by starting an eCommerce clothing store. There ain’t many retailers doing it.
Let me explain the 6 simple steps required to start an eCommerce clothing business.
6 STEPS TO START AN ECOMMERCE CLOTHING BUSINESS
1st Step: Get The Legal Thing Right
At the outset, you need to give a legal identity to your business.
Follow these steps (general for most countries):
- Name your business
- Register your trademark (optional)
- Register with tax authorities (using your business name)
- Open a business bank account
- Get the import license (if you plan to source your products)
Depending on your country, the aforesaid requirements may change. Please consult a lawyer for professional advice.
Click here for detailed legal requirements applicable for the US.
2nd Step: Source The Products
After fulfilling legal requirements, you should focus on sourcing your target products.
Remember that pricing is one of the most crucial success factors in online commerce. So, make sure that you buy & sell your inventory at the best possible prices.
FAQs related to sourcing of products:
1. Is sourcing compulsory?. I don’t have enough money.
Not at all. You can start an online clothing store without keeping a single unit of stock. How?. Simply by drop-shipping.
But, please note that drop-shipping won’t help you to build your name in the clothing industry. If your objective is simply to earn some quick bucks then yeah you may try drop-shipping.
2. Where do I source products from?
You may source your products either domestically or internationally.
If you plan to source from within your country then you may find manufacturers or suppliers on platforms like GlobalSources. Alternatively, you may explore some wholesale or industrial markets in your country.
Whereas for the import of products from outside your country, Alibaba is a trusted platform.
3. What factors do I look into while shortlisting suppliers?
Make sure that you look into the following factors:
- Quality certification (like TuV & SGS certifications)
- The strength of R&D department
- Private labeling capability
- Production or supply capacity
- Terms of payment
4. Do I need to hire a warehouse to keep stock?
Initially, you should not commit to any fixed cost like rent or salary. Your first priority should be to get some initial sales & see how things stack up.
Till then, you may keep stock in your house or garage itself.
5. What is an ideal order quantity for initial sourcing?
To avoid market risk, keep the initial order quantity to minimal. Once you start to understand the audience taste, you can always shoot up the order volume.
With sourcing, it’s all about learning while doing. Try out different strategies & see what works the best for you.
6. I want to have my own clothing line. How to go about?
This should be a long-term goal. At the outset, your primary goal should be to get some actual paying customers. Once you have a strong base of customers, you can always opt for your own design & branding.
Also, please note that most manufacturers need large scale orders before they can commit to working on your design.
7. How do I keep myself updated with the latest trends or fashion?
You can do that by simply following some top clothing brands on social media platforms.
3rd Step: Buy A Domain Name
Now is the time to buy a domain name based on your business name.
Example: If your business name is XYZ then your domain name may be:
- XYZonline.com etc.
I prefer buying domain names on NameCheap. Their simple dashboard, easy setup & robust documentation are a few things that I like.
Just make sure that you pick a domain name that’s easy to remember. Also, for obvious reasons, a .com domain extension is always preferred over others.
4th Step: Build An Online Store
Building an online store is not at all that difficult as you think.
Use Shopify. Period.
They make it extremely easy for anyone to build an eCommerce site from scratch by simply dragging & dropping web elements.
Best of all, they come with a 14 days free trial. You can cancel at any time before the trial ends.
Following is the step by step tutorial to help you set up a Shopify account:
While setting up Shopify, you will need to install a theme (design of your website). I prefer using premium themes of ThemeForest. Alternatively, you may opt for free or premium themes that come bundled with Shopify.
5th Step: Feed Product Images & Descriptions
Once you have your site up & running, start feeding the product images & descriptions into it.
Product images & descriptions play a vital role in conversions. So, make sure you get them right.
With images, you would like them to be:
- High definition
- Covering maximum angles
You may Google & find a good eCommerce photography firm. If budget permits then get some product videos done as well.
With product descriptions, you would like them to be:
- Telling a story
- Focusing on benefits
- Stating technical details
- Answering product questions
- Answering shipping & payment related queries
- Clearly stating the return policy
Here are some examples of awesome product descriptions.
6th Step: Tie-Up With A Delivery Partner
You will need to find a courier partner who will pick up & deliver orders for you.
FedEx, DHL & UPS are some of the top eCommerce delivery companies. To make things easy for you, make sure you opt for “pick up” services while creating an account with them.
Negotiation is the key to getting the best shipping rates. Make sure that you convince them of the viability & future of your project.
Alternatively, you may opt for shipping aggregators like GoShippo. They help you to generate shipping labels from top shipping companies from one single dashboard. Best of all, they integrate seamlessly with Shopify.
The process doesn’t stop at just starting an eCommerce clothing business or store. To be successful, you need sales.
So, after building, you should shift your focus towards promoting your online store.
A few quick tips to promote your online clothing business:
- Use social media platforms (Here is the guide on how to use Twitter for eCommerce marketing)
- Spread the word among your friends
- Use affiliate networks like ShareASale
- Try paid ads on Facebook
- Hire influencers
What do you think of the aforesaid steps to start an eCommerce clothing business?. Please comment below.