A 2021 Guide to Starting an Online Clothing Store

You are ready. You’ve spent the time researching, sourcing, creating, and testing. You know the market. You’ve spotted the trends and can see the opening. It’s time to open your online clothing store.

Whether you are all about the fashion or have a solid understanding of e-commerce business, it’s a great time for starting an online clothing boutique. There are tons of affordable and easy-to-use e-commerce platforms and online store builders that make opening an online clothing store a breeze.

Woman on laptop looking at online clothing store

It’s never been easier to launch your own online clothing store. (via FarShore)

But there’s much more to a successful online clothing business than just to create a clothing website. Continue reading to learn five tips for how to start an online fashion store and achieve and sustain success selling clothes online.

5 steps to start an online clothing store:

  • Define your business and brand
  • Choose back-end solutions
  • Finalize branding and creative
  • Build your online store
  • Launch and execute marketing and sales strategies

How you can start your own online clothing store right now

We’ve put together five critical steps to help you make your own clothing website a successful business. Spend the time working through each of these steps to ensure a successful launch.

Image of shopping cart on yellow background

Here’s five critical steps to launch your online store ASAP. (via Shopify)

Step 1: Define your business and brand

Your end game with this step is to create a formal business plan and an idea of your brand aesthetic, messaging, and position in the marketplace. But start with what you know.

That could be the clothes you’re selling, who you’ll be selling to, or how you’ll market your e-commerce store. Whatever it is, define what you know and then build out from there.

In terms of defining your business, think about what it is you want to achieve in the big picture. Are you making a clothing website to start a clothing line and assert yourself in the fashion industry?

Or are you more looking to generate revenue by driving traffic to your site and selling clothes at a profitable margin? Defining these big picture goals will help inform your brand mission and ethos. It also impacts which e-commerce KPIs and goals you value.

Tips for defining your business and brand

Here are a few tips to ensure you accurately define your brand and business plan.

  • Start with what you know: You don’t have to plan out your entire business in one sitting, but you do need to start somewhere. Get the ball rolling by solidifying what you know, whether it’s around your branding, fashion, or business goals.
  • Do your due diligence: Take the time to research some general key business factors for online clothing stores, such as averages for cost per acquisition and customer lifetime value. You should also estimate your own critical business factors such as your unique product life cycle and ideal inventory turnover ratio.
  • Think big but operate with agility: Think of laying out your business plan as building a sandbox. You want your goals to be aligned with your mission and your capabilities to truly be accurate indicators of success. But you also need room to be agile and pivot as needed with customer demands.
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Step 2: Choose back-end solutions

Reserving your domain name, determining hosting, and selecting your business solutions are your top tasks after defining your business and brand. Most website builders are all-in-one platforms that provide hosting while empowering you to reserve your domain and build and manage your online store.

Three critical software capabilities you’ll want to have for your business are:

  1. Inventory management and fulfillment to monitor stock levels, optimize purchase orders, and get customers their products
  2. Marketing tools to support basic acquisition and customer retention tactics as well as advanced tactics such as conducting commerce across social channels and email marketing e-commerce strategies
  3. Site analytics and attribution capabilities to set traffic benchmarks, monitor site KPIs, and quantify integrated marketing performance

Tips for choosing the right back-end solutions:

Here are a few critical software and platform features to look for as you build the technology on which to operate your business.

  • Prioritize ease of use: These platforms make up the engine that power your online boutique. There are tons of solutions to choose from and software features to consider, but through all this you must not forget about usability. Your platform needs to be feature-rich and easy to operate so that you can do more with less.
  • Invest in products and customers: The clothes you sell and the customers you sell them to must be top of mind when building your back-end platform. Look for robust inventory management and CRM features built in to your e-commerce solution that directly supports your product and customer management.
  • Plan for future growth: You want to build an optimal back end to support your business out of the gate, but you must also consider what additional support your business will take on as it grows. Make sure your platform is nimble enough to handle that growth so that you don’t have to rebuild from scratch.

Step 3: Finalize branding and creative

At some point, you have to translate the aesthetics in your head into digital designs for branding, site building, and marketing efforts. Have fun with this creative process, and allow yourself plenty of time to iterate so that you arrive at the best possible destination.

You need to have all your creative components in place before you can finish building your site. Your best approach is to get as much of the brand design and the imagery for product listings completed before you start building.

You’ll inevitably have tweaks and additional images you’ll need to source, but it’s more efficient to have as much as possible ready at the onset.

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Tips for finalizing branding and imagery

Here are a few tips to help you finalize all the branding and creative needs you must complete before building your site.

  • Own the aesthetic: Your brand look and feel is the first thing people will notice about your online clothing store. Your products need to be great, but they must be complemented by your general branding and site aesthetic. The last thing you want is your branding and site look to distract online shoppers from purchasing from your store.
  • Include marketing and promotional designs: You should be promoting your site prior to launch and will need to immediately kick that up once it launches. So take the time to design some marketing assets as you’re finalizing your brand look and product imagery.

Step 4: Build your online store

You’re ready to finally build your store once your systems are in place and brand assets completed. Your website builder should provide helpful templates that make this an easy process.

Operate within the bounds of the template unless you’re absolutely sure you have the coding or web dev experience to make custom changes.

Your online store doesn’t need to be complex. Focus on being very intentional in how you set it up. Ensure everything has a purpose and that there’s a logical flow from page to page. And most importantly, make sure it is as easy a process as possible for your customers to complete a purchase.

Tips for building your online store:

Here are two tips for ensuring you enjoy and are successful in building your online store.

  • Simplify purchasing: It is critical that you make it as easy as possible for online shoppers to purchase your clothes. Eliminate as much friction as possible between choosing a product and completing payment for that product.
  • Feature your clothes: You may create a stellar brand that captures the hearts and eyes of millions, but at the end of the day, you want site visitors to buy. So feature your products front-and-center throughout your online store. Let the clothes you’ve so expertly chosen to sell speak for themselves.

Step 5: Launch and execute marketing and sales strategies

You’ve completed the initial work to build your online clothing store. Now it’s time to throw open the doors and turn it loose on the world. It’s time to implement your marketing and sales strategies.

More than anything else, this means testing. You hopefully have a firm understanding of your target audience and customer bases, now it’s time to test messaging and sales tactics to see which ones drive purchases.

Iterate your marketing until you find what works and then hone in on that messaging, aesthetic, customer segment, etc.

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And don’t be afraid to engage with consumers when you’re just launching the store. Get your hands dirty by personally reaching out to your early customers and site visitors.

Let them know you appreciate their business or at least their time in visiting your store. Entice them with deals to return and make that first purchase or additional purchases.

Tips for launching your sales and marketing strategy:

Here are two tips for successful marketing and sales strategies.

  • Testing is essential: Regardless of your marketing experience or prowess, you must find a way to A/B test different messaging and designs. This testing helps you identify the campaigns and creative that are most resonating with your target audiences.
  • Double down on success: Don’t be afraid to double down and add resources to exploit channels, messaging, customer segments, etc., that you identify as profitable.

The best e-commerce software to create your own clothing website

Here are three top e-commerce platforms to help you with the overwhelming choice you must make. These three platforms are especially great for building, launching, and managing your online clothing store.

1. Shopify

Shopify is a stalwart in the e-commerce space. The solution provides an all-in-one option empowering you to stake claim to your website domain and build an online store from scratch.

Screenshot of Shopify Product Inventory

Easily track and manage clothing and other inventory with Shopify. (via The Blueprint)

As your clothing business grows, Shopify also offers helpful, nearly seamless integrations so that you can market and sell from the same back end across channels such as Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Instagram, and Google Shopping.

2. Squarespace

Squarespace provides a template-rich, easy-to-use experience for building your clothing store. They offer specialized commerce capabilities that include product page designs, payment and shipping flexibility, and more.

Screenshot of Squarespace Site Builder

Squarespace provides a simple mechanism for building your online store. (via The Blueprint)

3. BigCommerce

BigCommerce is a great e-commerce option that you can use out of the gate and then scale with as your store grows. BigCommerce supports sales across multiple channels and features in-depth analytics for marketing and sales performance.

Screenshot of BigCommerce Demo Site

BigCommerce dynamically optimizes your site across devices. (via The Blueprint)

Take the leap and launch your store today

If you’ve made it this far in the article, you’re ready to take the leap and start building your online clothing store. It’s normal to be nervous about the tasks ahead and worried about potential failure.

You can build a strong brand and mission statement that you can fall back on when nerves or fear pay you a visit. You can set obtainable goals for your clothing store early on that you can at least hit if not surpass. And you should celebrate your successes early and often. But it all has to start somewhere and sometime.

View more information: https://www.fool.com/the-blueprint/how-to-start-an-online-clothing-store/

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