India’s fashion e-tail will reach USD 140 billion by 2026. That is 20-30% – more than 1/3rd – of the revenue generation predicted from all the sectors across e-commerce in totality! Clothing is one of the fastest-moving FMCGs today. Online apparel business, clothing business, or garments business retailing opens up an entirely new dimension of possibilities for your business with its wider reach and increasingly convenient accessibility to fashion. It may seem unsafe initially, but here is our 10-step guide that can be your stairway to making your brand a roaring success. If you don’t know how to start an online clothing store with no money or with money, this guide
How to Start a Clothing Business Online
The following things should be considered while starting an online store with no money:
1. Identify Your Clientele And Research Your Market
Targeting everyone in the initial stages can lead to a lack of a targeted inventory and confusing marketing. KYC “know your customer” is far from a banking norm. It is the foundation of a well thought and painstakingly planned business. Thus, identify your target customers, i.e., whether you wish to begin with catering to men, women, or children, or any combination of these. Look into niche verticals as well, such as clothing for curvy or ‘plus-sized’ women, maternity wear for office goers, traditional apparel that is handmade/ handwoven by Indian artisans, and the like. Remember to start with a narrower clientele. Know that you can expand with time, so don’t try to do it all at once.
When researching your market, you need to target your competition, product, and future market for your offering.
- Another KYC, Know Your Competition, is the key. Know what they’re selling, who is buying from them, and their marketing strategy. Understand what they are doing and how they are doing it so you can do it better.
- Get feedback on your clothing from your network of friends and family to have an intimate and honest survey. Ask them what they liked and didn’t and what they would feel happy buying. Make notes.
- Be sure to take into account market research conducted by third parties, such as this one:
Image Source: Wazir Management Consultants
2. Business Plan and Startup Capital
A business plan is a charter of the various aspects of a business, how they blend, and a prediction of the expected outcome. The variables of your business plan (workforce, storage/warehousing, marketing, sales, costing and corresponding fund requirement, delivery logistics) will depend on the model you choose – whether you manufacture apparel and wish to sell it further wholesale or if you wish only to retail, or if your business structure is to procure from a wholesaler and then retail, or simply to dropship. But first, decide what, how much, and when you will source the fabrics and the material.
Your clothing apparel business plan and the capital requirement will be formulated according to the model (or combination of models) you want to develop your business. Now get your startup capital ready. It could be your savings or loans from friends/family or bank or could be raised money from a third party. Therefore, you must have a fashion startup business plan.
3. Flaunt your USP and Decide on the Brand Name
Define your USP. It sets you apart from your competition. It can be that your fabric is sourced from fair trade shops or is organic, that you offer custom tailoring at home, or that you donate one piece of clothing to a child in need for every online purchase, etc. Remember, every online apparel business/store sells cloth, but its USP makes it different. So, flaunt your USP and let your clientele know you offer the ‘x’ factor, which your competitors do not.
Next is to give a name to your unique offering. The name of your brand is what people will identify you with. It must define your products, resonate with your USP, and be short and catchy! Make sure it is available for Business Name Registration and domain names.
Delve into different languages and try to develop a name that would give the consumer a glimpse into their experience with your products. Do not shy away from using help from professionals and online tools such as Wordoid.
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4. Decide what eCommerce platform you will take in selling online
Now that you have decided on your target and offer time to determine how you wish to be seen online, there are many possibilities vis-à-vis how to make your brand go live. Gauge the pros and cons of each. Check out other e-tailers’ websites- how are they showcasing themselves online? See more prominent brands, as well as niche brands. Assess what characteristics you like, what is a must-have, and what you despise. You can,
(i) Create your web store from scratch,
(ii) Offer your products on online marketplaces such as Amazon, Myntra, and Jabong; or
(iii) You may opt for a SaaS (Software as a Service) e-commerce solution
Creating a web store from scratch requires hiring a team of professionals (programmers, designers). Though this option will give the exact store you visualized, it could be a time and intensive money process. In addition, you need to pay for each aspect, be it buying a domain name, hosting, website designing, security, coding, etc. Therefore, it is a good option only if you have a successful online business and are looking to scale due to huge demand.
An online marketplace is a reasonable option, as it allows you to list your products/ catalog on its website at a low initial cost and might give you volume sales. But for that, you must either be an old player or have good company reviews and lower prices. Online marketplaces also have a commission on selling your products, and the brand building would be negligible.
SaaS platforms do not need a techie to manage your online apparel business website. It is easier than self-hosting because you can set up a website in 30 minutes and a monthly price as low as INR 1000 / month. Creating your clothing brand is better than selling on marketplaces. Moreover, some service providers offer the DIY option, so you get your shop the way you envisioned. Be sure to execute non-disclosure and confidentiality contracts with your host.
ZDNet Survey: Reasons why businesses are opting for SaaS
Image Source: ZDNet
5. Get Your Domain Name
You can buy a domain name from GoDaddy or BigRock. Then, get it registered for a trademark so you deal with no legal issues in the future. But when you opt for a SaaS platform, you get it here only. The latter would gather all your tech work under one umbrella, ensuring responsibility and accountability and reducing the number of verticals you must deal with.
Purchasing additional domain endings like .com, .net, .in, and other available and applicable TLDs makes good business sense. It would ensure that consumers reach your website even if they misremember the domain name.
Ensure your hosting service provides you with an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate for your website. It ensures that sensitive information, such as credit card numbers and login information, is encrypted while being transmitted. In addition, it is essential to instill confidence in your clientele while they purchase products from your website.
6. Get, Set, and Load Your Website with Information
(i) Few must-have pages – Know Us Better, Stunning Collection Categories, FAQs, Sizing (International Size Chart), Shipping, Returns, Feedback or Contact Us, The Weave (a blog of sorts, with creative and relevant information regarding cloth/ textile in general and your apparel in particular).
(ii) Upload high-definition photographs – is critical, as you must ensure a visually enthralling experience for your consumers. Especially for online apparel demos, multiple views and zooming in on the photograph are necessary so that the viewer can have a closer view of the fabric. Better hire professionals and go for the model shoot as it gives an idea to the viewer how what the apparel will look like when worn. Finally, consult a lawyer – apply for copyright for the photographs of your ensembles; they are your online business assets and need protection.
(ii) The Size Chart – Upload the sizes available and the size chart guide. It is very critical when targeting the women’s section for fashion apparel.
(iii) The Descriptions – Upload detailed descriptions of your ensembles. Integrate your content with Google keywords on Google Ads, and ensure you have professional help with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques and tools – it increases your online visibility exponentially.
(iv) Finalize the prices of your ensembles– Keep it relative- know how your competitors have priced their products. Also, consider shipping costs and do not charge a bomb for delivery.
(iv) Cataloging – User-friendly catalogs make shopping quick, fun, and easy for your customers. Showcase your unique and new arrivals on your front page. Segregate the products under different collections like formal, casual, nightwear, etc. Keep the color variants along with the size of the selection. Also, don’t forget to set up cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. They generally increase bag value.
7. How Will You Deliver?
Fulfilling your customers’ orders on time and safely is critical to success. It needs to be decided before you finalize your prices how you will determine the shipping cost, which you have to integrate into your products’ pricing.
Consider whether you want to have your team which carries out the delivery of orders or an independent delivery/logistics team. Do you wish to have a huge inventory and warehouse all of it, or would you try dropshipping? You could have a slab-based costing for shipping. For instance, for orders up to INR ‘X,’ you could charge your essential shipping cost. On the other hand, you could set a tad less for orders from INR ‘X’ to ‘5X’, and shipping could be free for orders above INR’ 5X’. If you offer free shipping (which is very attractive to online consumers), ensure that you absorb the cost of shipping in the price of your product as much as possible.
Some companies have become a one-stop shop for online businesses, such as Purple Stores. Not only will they set up your online apparel business, but offline as well, i.e., they will provide you with logistics support for order fulfillment.
8. Rake in the ‘Cha-ching’!
Buyers can make online payments through credit and debit cards, internet banking, etc. Be sure to integrate PayPal/Paytm and CC Avenue/Citrus Pay/RazorPay (choose the payment gateway you wish, but keep multiple options – just in case one fails, another one should be available for consumers). Payment gateways have their commissions and setup costs, so be sure to investigate properly before deciding which one to use for your website. Purple stores tie the popular payment gateways into your website (with the sole exception of their starter plan) for free.
9. Go Live, and Shout Out to the World!
Launch your website for online apparel business; plan a party with page 3 regulars or persons from the textile/ clothing industry; start a blog regarding your business in particular and textiles/ silhouettes in general; and get news coverage.
10. Promote your Online Business, Online!
Social Media is everywhere – there is nowhere it cannot or has not reached. Use it to promote your business, be it Facebook for business, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube, Tumblr, or any other social platform. Come up with trending hashtags, slogans, and taglines. Make sure you apply for the copyright of taglines that qualify for copyright protection.
Selling apparel online differs from creating and cultivating your brand in the online apparel business. Although the latter involves a lot of initiative, planning, coordination, and implementation, just a few loyal consumers will make all the work worth it! Furthermore, with professional help readily available for your technical, creative, logistical, and legal concerns – sometimes all under one roof, there is no reason to deny the world exposure to your fabulous creations! So go online, Sell big!
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