Learn how to start an online clothing store and create an online clothing brand. You can use Blipteam to create a clothing website and sell clothes online, or bring together many clothing brands and apparel sellers to create a multi-brand, online fashion store.Create An Online Clothing Store Now >
There are many challenges in starting an online clothing business. The first is to create an online clothing brand that sticks out from the crowd and attracts a loyal fan following. Fortunately, clothing is easy to deliver, thus leaping over one of the biggest hurdles in ecommerce - delivery. Most clothing is lightweight, lends itself to compact packing and unless it is a weird-looking hat or a Victorian corset, will not break in transit and arrive at its destination in one piece.
The next challenge is getting the fit right. With online delivery you do not have the luxury of trying out six different outfits and finding one that was made for you. However, online shopping beats negotiating traffic, paying downtown congestion charges and finding a parking spot. Just order online and get the merchandise delivered to your door.
This is where you need to have a good returns mechanism in place. Figuring out an efficient returns policy is a crucial part of your online clothing business. You have to find the right balance between online sales and returns. Too many returns and you will incur losses on packaging, delivery costs and lost opportunity.
If you do not have a clear returns policy customers will be wary of purchasing from you. Selling clothes online is about getting the fit right and finding a segment where you can maximise sales and minimise returns.
Creating an online clothing brand is all about addresses these challenges. Creating a fashion brand that is fresh and vibrant is just half the game. Creating an efficient marketing and logistics machine with prompt online support, good packaging, on-time delivery and no-questions-asked returns is just as critical.
If your strong point is design then you can design your own apparel and then learn how to start an online clothing business from home.
If business is your forte then you can bring together many fashion designers and independent boutiques under a common online fashion brand or umbrella and solve the aforementioned marketing and logistics problems for them. You get a large range of fashion products, your hot new designers get your online marketing and ecommerce expertise and everyone is happy.
So where do you start?
If you are an independent designer working from home you need to get a few things together. Your clothing inventory is the easiest - that is what you love doing, you have been working on it for years (or weeks) and you probably have some designs all ready to go or somewhere in production. The next part you may not be so familiar with - how to set up an ecommerce store and how to reach out to people beyond your immediate friends' circle or your close fan following.
Finally there is the art of packaging your apparel, finding an efficient delivery service, figuring out online payments, bank accounts and all that. And then you have to man the phones and answers emails when your customers have questions about a purchase. Being a good designer and eliciting the wow factor with your creations is one thing, running a profitable business is another. Being great at both is the sweet spot where we all want to be.
Technology may seem daunting at first - there's gazillions of choices out there for setting up ecommerce nowadays. Finding your way through the online alleyways of social media can also be really confusing sometimes.
Lets tackle ecommerce first. Platforms like Blipteam are set up for people like you. Your job is fashion, not geeky tech and crossing wires. With Blipteam all you have to do is sign up and our set-up wizard sets up your online store with a sample product in less than 10 minutes.
You can then experiment with creating more products and your store design and set up some shipping rates (takes two minutes). Finally, you can sign up for a Stripe account, enter your account details in Blipteam, upgrade your Blipteam account and start selling. That's step number one.
Step number two is finding people to sell to. The great part of social media is that people click around, see new things, follow links and engage with one another. When you put up a post on your Facebook page, your friends will like it, some other people will see it, get curious about your designs and land up on your page. At that point, if you have your contact details and a link to your online store you have a chance of making a sale.
Also, customers will ask you questions about your line and some of them may put up posts about not getting a delivery on time. This is your opportunity to show that you are running a serious online business and are very interested in providing great customer service. The entire chain needs to be up - from your initial post, to your online store, to your contact details.
And then you need to know your online payments and returns mechanisms inside out so you can quickly answer any questions about a customer's online purchase and their delivery status. If any one of these links is weak your chain will break. Master the online selling process and run a tight ship.
At some point of time you will start boring the wits out of your friends with your incessant FB posts. That is when you need to venture further afield. Explore Instagram, Pinterest and other social media channels. Set up a separate business page for your fashion brand. People who follow your brand will get your latest news and see your latest posts.
Make it a point to invite people to follow you on social, whether it is existing customers, people you meet at events and through your online store. Creating a noise on social is no good if you do not have your ecommerce and delivery machine running smoothly.
Master social media marketing and ecommerce at the same time. It is not rocket science and a few weeks' investment is all it takes to figure out online selling.
You may also have to sell through physical multi-brand stores or larger online fashion marketplaces. Having your own ecommerce store is a good way to display your designs to others and having a bit of self-taught ecommerce experience is valuable when you want to sell via a larger online fashion brand.
You know how to photograph your inventory and you understand the online delivery process. You know how pricing works in a competitive online market and there will be other designers and clothing sellers on these fashion marketplaces. Start an online clothing store on Blipteam, get some fashion ecommerce expertise and get a headstart with selling your own clothing brand online.
If you are more into fashion business and online retail rather than an independent designer then you have to deal with a slightly different set of challenges. Some of these are already mentioned above.
You will need to figure out how fashion ecommerce works - how to set up an online clothing store on an ecommerce platform like Blipteam, how to drive traffic to your online clothing store, how to deliver and handle returns, social media, customer service, bank accounts and all that.
But instead of creating original designs and managing production you have to find designers and clothing sellers who are willing to sell on your platform.
Maybe you can source large brands from somewhere. That makes it easier for you to sell as customers will trust well-known brands. But they still need to trust you before they buy from you. Another way is to build an online clothing marketplace that offers online marketing and ecommerce expertise to independent designers who do not have the bandwidth to handle these activities. Maybe you already have a physical clothing boutique with some small but interesting brands.
An online clothing store is your opportunity to extend sales beyond the walk-ins that you get on a monthly basis. Physical store rentals are an expense and all your customers may not be able to get there whenever you have some interesting items available. Your online clothing store lets your customers shop from wherever - via mobile on the train to work, or via laptop at home in bed. Your online clothing store lets you sell to customers in other cities as well.
Understanding how independent fashion designers work is key to building a larger online fashion brand. Of course you could create your own online fashion store and stock it with large brands but there's probably lots of new and upcoming independent fashion designers out there who need help with online selling skills and an online fashion platform that can help them sell their latest designs. You can do this via Blipteam.
Blipteam lets you build an online fashion marketplace website with a few clicks. Independent fashion designers and clothing sellers can create their own accounts via your seller sign-up page and create products that you can later review and add to your marketplace website. Your sellers handle all product information - images, product specs, pricing, inventory and shipping rates.
In case you want to ship from a central warehouse you will need to give your sellers your shipping rates and they can set these in their accounts. Packaging, delivery and returns are activities you can set up yourself or handle offline with your sellers, depending on your business model.
Your sellers also get a bonus on Blipteam. They can upgrade their seller accounts to set up their own webshops with their own domain names, logos and custom storefront designs. The products they create can be displayed simultaneously on their individual webstores and on your marketplace website.
This is a huge advantage for any independent fashion brand. Often they are going nuts trying to generate sales from their own websites, selling through physical stores and supplying to an online clothing marketplace such as yours. Your seller account lets them do this from one ecommerce platform - create one product, sell on their own stores, sell on your marketplace.
If you are an established online fashion brand with lots of consumer web traffic then fashion designers will flock to you anyway. But in the beginning when you still setting up your online fashion brand this feature is a good incentive for getting your initial fashion designers and apparel brands onboard.
Learn how to create your own fashion label on Blipteam:
Learn more: How To Build A Multi Vendor Marketplace >
Start with 3-4 design boutiques or garment sellers, build an online clothing store and see how the dynamics work. Work on essentials such as marketing and contractual agreements and then you can scale up. You can set commissions rates with each of your sellers separately.
Our fashion ecommerce platform gives your sellers and designers a good incentive to hop onboard and then maintain their own inventories and product pricing, thus saving you the headache of managing hundreds of products on your own. We also have information on search engine optimization and digital marketing that you can use to generate some buzz for your online fashion marketplace.
Building your product catalog is also simple on Blipteam. You could start with women's wear and then extend your catalog and sell mens wear online, or sell baby clothes online or sell kids wear online. Create a catalog structure in excel and then experiment with our cataloging system, learn how to open an online clothing boutique that you can scale up over time.
These are generic online clothing stores, of course. You can set up any kind of online fashion marketplace or create any kind of an online clothing brand. You could have a themed clothing marketplace - maybe you bring together artisans from some geographic region. Maybe you can sell yoga accessories online or sell leather bags. Or maybe ethnic footwear from the upper Nile delta, or women's casuals from Scandinavia.
You could concentrate on sportswear and gym accessories or footwear or just scarves or even cosmetics and herbal products. You could do outdoors clothing and gear or vintage clothing or bring together all indie fashion in New York City. You need to decide if you are going to create a niche fashion brand or start a clothing store online that can sell any kind of clothing brand.
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