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Tips to start a successful online clothing business

Have you thought about starting an online clothing business? There has never been a better time to do it. The data says it all – fashion is the largest B2C market segment with an estimated global size of $752.5 billion in 2020. With growth expected to remain strong, there is plenty of opportunity to start an apparel business from home, or anywhere for that matter.

But how do you go about opening your own online clothing business? Whether you’re starting a sports apparel store, selling workwear, or simply opening a vintage fashion boutique, you can do this from anywhere and on a small budget using an online store platform.

How to start a clothing business online

Aside from finding clothes to sell, it’s also worth investing time to create a business plan to identify your goals, target market and iron out the details of how you’ll market yourself. And before you start your online clothing business, you should work out which business model is the best one to help you make this plan a reality.

The primary business models for clothing are:

  • Custom cut and sew: This is where you design and create your own apparel either in-house or outsourced, and generally requires more effort than the other business models

  • Private label clothing: With this model, you’ll partner with a manufacturer to create apparel under your brand. This setup often needs a larger upfront investment

  • Print on demand: Here you’ll order clothing to be printed or modified via a supplier after receiving customers’ orders

  • Dropshipping: The simplest of these models, dropshipping involves ordering items from manufacturers only once a customer orders them in your online store. Shipping times are usually faster than print on demand

Once you’ve selected a business model, you can start taking more concrete steps to open your online clothing business. This includes finding products to sell if you aren’t already making them – and then learning how to market them.

How to sell clothes online

After you’ve got an idea of what you’ll sell and the manufacturing and fulfilment model to get it to customers, it’s time to set up your online store. What’s great about this is that you can open a store quickly and on a relatively small budget, especially compared with a traditional bricks-and-mortar store.

With an ecommerce platform, you can add products, write product descriptions, upload photos and add a custom domain or other branding tweaks to personalise the experience for customers. Here are the next steps to take your clothing business online:

  • Find an ecommerce platform: Considerations include available features, such as email functionality or available payment methods. Note that some platforms are free, while others charge a recurring fee

  • Choose a domain name: When coming up with a name, try to be unique while also staying relatable. Keep it simple and scalable to achieve maximum effect

  • Customise your online store: Depending on the platform you choose, this will either involve doing the design and coding yourself, or selecting from a set of templates

  • Add products to your store: Once you’ve uploaded images, write headlines and product descriptions that are catchy and informative

Create your online clothing business for free with the SumUp Online Store.

Create your online store

The best part of all is that you don’t need to be in any particular location to do it. Ecommerce platforms allow you to start an online clothing business from home, or remotely if you’re travelling abroad with a laptop.

How to market your online store

After setting up, it’s time to let potential customers know about your products and how they can buy them. This is where the power of digital marketing can help. You’ve likely used most, if not all, of the following tools at some point either personally or professionally – communication tools are an integral part of how we navigate the internet.

Use email marketing tools

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach out to customers and promote apparel in your store. Not only is sending emails a low-budget exercise compared to other channels, it’s one that businesses consistently turn to for reliability in engaging customers. Emails you can send include alerts, promotions and transactional emails – such as when a customer makes a purchase.

To make email an effective channel, first decide if you want to use an email service built into an online store platform, or whether a separate email marketing tool like Mailchimp is best for your needs. Once you’ve built an audience you can start planning campaigns to drive more engagement and sales. Follow the link to learn more about how to do email marketing for your business.

Social media marketing

Love them or not, social media platforms are a valuable tool for growing businesses. Fashion lends itself well to predominantly image-based platforms like Instagram or Pinterest. Customers want to see what they’re buying first, and these platforms help them do just that.

Aside from building a following around a shared interest – fashion and style in this case – and sharing links to your products among these followers, you can also use paid advertising to boost your brand. Sponsored posts targeting audiences with interests related to your business can help you raise awareness just as you’re starting out and beyond.

Create your online clothing store in minutes with SumUp – it’s free.

Create your online store

Omar Hamwi