The internet is a powerful tool. With the ability to reach customers worldwide with the touch of a button, accessible web design tools to make an online storefront, and dozens of professional services to help you manage clothing creation, inventory management, and shipping, it’s easier than ever to start your own clothing business online.
In this article, I will list the most effective ways of starting a business online for your clothing or fashion brand and how to take it from the launch to a fully profitable online business.
How To Start a Business Online For Clothing
With all the free tools and techniques available to you online, starting a clothing business online is not just easy for you, It is also easy for the competition!
Because of this, it is extremely important that you take the time to learn how to do things right. In order to speed your learning process along, here are the 6 best ways to start a business online for clothing.
1. Build A Social Media Presence
Sending out a tweet or two a day is a great way to remind customers you exist. You may ask, what about doing things the other way around and starting from social media?
Rebecca Minkoff is a clothing designer who’s used her social media presence as a primary driving force behind her brand. With over 900 thousand Twitter followers, she’s figured out how to use the internet to reach her audience in an easy, effective way.
Rebecca doesn’t just tweet about clothes, she uses social media to “establish a deeper connection with the consumer,” to use her words. She shares stories of women who inspire her, she blogs about her personal life and shares a unique behind-the-scenes look at her products.
Minkoff’s approach isn’t the only way to go about using social media. It is, however, a great example of how understanding your customers can go a long way in the world of marketing.
2. Search Engine Optimization
No matter how successful your social media empire is, you still want to make sure you put in the legwork for your website. Search engine optimization is a technique that ensures that your website and Google’s search algorithms get along.
With proper SEO, you’ll be on the first page of Google for a wide range of searches.
With bad SEO, you’ll be on page two or three. This is extremely important when it comes to both finding new customers and staying connected with old ones.
Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that customers are both forgetful and impatient. When was the last time you Googled something you couldn’t remember the name of? When was the last time you clicked on a search result that wasn’t on the first page?
Even if you’re trying to compete in a crowded niche, it’s often possible to get results on the front page for what are called “long tail” search terms. Think of extra words your customers might add to a query and try to optimize your site for those exact words.
It might be difficult and expensive to get your page on “little black dress” to the front page, but something like “what to wear to dinner with friends in summer” should prove much less competitive.
3. Google Ads
We use Google for web searches, e-mail, and even video sharing through YouTube. As a result of these services (and many more), Google has amassed a lot of data about people’s habits.
Google also hosts one of the internet’s leading digital advertising platforms. When we put these things together you get the ability to create low cost, highly-targeted ads that can appear in places your audience can’t miss.
A full tour of the features offered by Google Ads is beyond the scope of this article, but you can get started here. This is a very, very powerful tool that can work wonders at getting your brand off the ground.
At Visual Humans, we can help you get started with Google Ads. Find out more here.
4. Brand Design
Brands carry an incredible amount of weight in the clothing industry to the point where high-end fashion brands can sell plain white T-shirts for hundreds of dollars.
Understanding what separates a successful brand from a failing one is one of the hardest parts about starting your own clothing line. It’s a hill many celebrities and fashion designers have died on.
Compare the artist formerly known as P-Diddy’s successful Sean John brand with Lindsay Lohan’s 6126 line, which doesn’t even have a functional website anymore. You definitely don’t want your brand to end up like the latter.
The most successful brands seem to focus on two things: creating a connection with their target audience and thoroughly understanding their niche.
This is why so many lifestyle brands have strong connections to sports and specific subcultures. You might start by carrying high-quality clothing that caters to the unique needs of your target market. As your reputation grows, the magic of your brand starts to do more and more of the work.
5. Product Design
Even with the best social media presence, SEO, advertising, and the world’s best brand backing your products up, customers won’t buy clothes they don’t like. This means your offerings need to be attractive, comfortable, and well fitting.
It’s also important to have clothing that matches up with your customer’s quality expectations: if you’re selling $30 graphic t-shirts, the designs need to stay bold after several washes.
All of this sounds obvious, of course, but once you start factoring in business expenses and overhead it becomes pretty tempting to sacrifice quality for margins. This is a terrible idea, especially when you’re starting out.
If customers don’t like your products, they’ll return them, leave bad reviews, and start badmouthing you on social media — and this is assuming they purchased your clothing in the first place. If your offerings aren’t appealing in the store, they might not get purchased in the first place.
6. Ease Of Purchase
One final idea that doesn’t get discussed enough is the concept of streamlining the customer experience from start to finish. Market research firms almost universally report that customers stopping midway through the purchase process is really, really bad for your conversion rate.
This is why many online storefronts will e-mail you a hefty coupon if you simply add an item to your shopping cart and then close the site for a few hours. The site owner isn’t trying to reward people who have discovered a neat trick. Instead, they’re desperately trying to save a sale that’s otherwise almost certainly lost.
While you can use the above coupon mailing strategy yourself, it’s probably more important to make sure it’s easy and fast for customers to purchase your products. A quick, simple process gives customers less time to change their minds about an impulse purchase, while a smoothly-loading site without any freezes, hangs, or hiccups ensures they won’t get bored and visit a competitor.
Make sure you accept less common forms of payment in a seamless way in order to prevent losing customers who can’t get their purchase through.
Starting a Business Online For Clothing
Your online business will succeed if you really pay attention to your customers, build a brand, focus on social media and create a seamless purchase process in your store, on social media and your website.