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How to Start an Online Clothing Store

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We will explore how to build a strong brand identity in more detail in Chapter 2, but in the early stages of setting up your business it’s important to have a basic brand identity carved out for yourself.

Taking the time to consider some basic factors – such as the kinds of clothes you will be selling, your designed demographic and how you want to make your brand appear unique and desirable – when compared to similar brands on the market, will all powerfully shape the way in which your brand develops.

Before starting an online clothing store, you first need to clearly define the kinds of clothes you’d like to sell. For example, some online clothing stores specialize in selling fashionable formal wear to young men, while other stores might sell active wear to women.

Pair of shoes seen from the back

In contrast, other successful online stores focus on selling certain items – stocking and shipping shoes, dresses, or t-shirts. The two main things that you need to have down? What you’re selling and who you are selling to.

In addition, every successful brand needs a strong brand identity. A good way to help carve out your own is by exploring some of the other brands out there. Which brands are excelling in your chosen market? If you’re looking to sell stylish women’s shoes online, then why not take a look at the other successful brands already doing that? Grab a pen and a piece of paper and answer the following questions for each brand you take a look at:

• What’s unique about this brand?

• Which positive adjectives would I use to describe this brand?

• What are they doing well?

• Why would I buy from here, rather than from another company?

• What kind of person does this brand appeal to?

• Does this brand offer on-trend styles, or unique alternatives?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have a good idea about what goes into each brand in order to make it a success. A good clothing brand has a strong and unique brand identity, is aware of the needs and desires of their chosen demographic and sets out to fulfill them.

Choosing a Brand Name

After carving out a your definitive brand identity, you now need to come up with a great name to represent your brand. A solid brand name sets a company apart, evokes certain emotions or associations and helps to give your brand personality.

A good brand name should possess the following characteristics:

1. It’s easy to remember

A colourful, complicated brand name may sound awesome on paper – but if it’s difficult to remember, then that will mean it’s harder for potential customers to remember your brand! Keep it simple.

2. It says something about your brand

If your online clothing shop sells gothic t-shirts, then you don’t want a brand name that stirs up feelings of optimism and warmth. Go for a company name that clearly defines your brand and helps tell the story of your brand.

Ben and Jerry’s is a first-rate example of telling a story through your brand name. A lot of companies incorporate their founders names’ into their company name, but Ben and Jerry’s are unique, as they specifically use their two founders first names; giving Ben and Jerry’s a homely feel, which evokes a sense of familiarity, trust and warmth in their customers

 Ben and Jerry’s brand name ties in superbly with their brand; the use of the founder’s first names incites familiarity and trust – perfect for selling homemade ice-cream that’s made from wholesome ingredients.

Ben & Jerry's ice cream

3. It’s evocative

Apple, Wonka, Pampers – each of these brand names are awesome, because they evoke a certain feeling, positive internal story, or association. Every influential marketer carefully considers how every aspect of their marketing plan can help stir-up powerful feelings in the hearts and minds of those in their chosen demographic.

Pampers brings a sense of safety and warmth – reminiscent of your own childhood, or the love and wamth you feel towards your own child (as a mother within their target demographic).

In contrast, the name Willy Wonka might evoke the sense of wonder and excitement you felt as a child, seeing all the delicious wonders Willy Wonka had in his chocolate factory, on your first screening of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. When coming up with a brand name, ask yourself – what do I want them to feel? Followed by, how can I get them there?

The Important Practicalities

There are many fun and creative aspects to running your own business, like choosing an awesome brand name and getting your designs out there. But there are also some practicalities that need your equal attention, such as registering your business. Luckily,these important basics aren’t as daunting and time-consuming as they first seem.

Setting up an Online Store

This easiest way to start an online clothing store is to set up an

online eCommerce platform. An eCommerce platform does away with all the stress and hassle of having to set up your own website and negates the need for expensive web designers.

An eCommerce platform will also provide you with a designer template that you can use to host your business. eCommerce stores are generally free, or host your store for a good rate – allowing you to invest your money in the desire and manufacture process.

Looking for a step-by-step guide on how to get a professional eCommerce store set-up quickly? Check out our guide on how to get yours started with Selz.

Registering your Business

If you’re selling clothes online, then you need to register yourself

as an official business. Registering yourself as an official business is important for legal reasons; you can find yourself in trouble if you don’t make sure to register as a business in the first couple of months of owning your own shop. It’s fairly simple to register as a new business, just go to www.state.gov/business for more guidance.

Next up, if you’re not designing and manufacturing your own clothes, you need to develop a purchasing relationship with a clothing distributor. A simple Google search for distributors in your area will help you find some reliable sources for your business.

Organize your Accountants

The bane of every business owner’s life – organizing your financial accounts can seem like a lot of stress and hassle. It’s important that you keep track of all your business sales and expenses, as you’ll need to keep a clear record of everything you buy and sell for tax purposes. Don’t forget to save all of your business receipts – you can snap photos of them and save them to your computer, so you’re not stashing away endless pieces of paper. A great accountant can help you organize and manage all of your finances for a fee, or you can record and organize all of your finances using accounting software. One of our favorites is Wave Accounting Software – it’s well-organized, offers a clear dashboard and is free to use.

Mastering your Aesthetics

An awesome clothing brand is always fuelled by a fabulous aesthetic appeal. Key to achieving this appeal is show-casing the right models for your brand, learning how to take killer pictures and making the most of quality-production tools and materials. Some clothing-brand connoisseurs get a rush from sketching, pinning fabrics together and working their sewing-machines Project Runway style.

If this isn’t you, then you can easily style your own individual pieces with the help of online manufacturing websites. Build-your-own websites, like Blank-Label, take your designs and turn them into quality products. Aesthetically-appealing clothes need to be sourced from quality fabrics, so be sure to use durable, luxe materials, such as stretch cottons, wools, and silks, when designing or manufacturing your own clothes.

Ensuring you use quality materials will not only help to make your clothes look awesome on your website, but will also ensure you provide your customers with long-lasting clothes that look beautiful on their owner. A quality product will guarantee that your customers always return to your store. In contrast, If you’d just like to host your own shop and sell premade clothing, then you’ll need to source a supplier.

Taking a Killer Photograph

If you’re looking to start an online clothing business, the key to your success is learning to take an awesome picture. Whether this involves charming your artsy friend into snapping some shots for your website lookbook, or learning how to use a camera yourself; great shots are needed to present your clothes in the best light to potential customers.

Girl posing on pink background

1. Opt for models and mannequins

Customers will want to get an idea of how clothes fit and how they will look on – so you should always go for a mannequin or model, rather than lay your clothes flat, for photographs.

2. Make sure you have great lighting

To show your clothes in the best possible light, make sure you snap your shots in a room that’s well lit, with bright lighting. Sunshine is even better.

3. Buy yourself a good camera and edit, edit, edit

If you can afford it, we definitely recommend investing in a SLR camera. These cameras will give you the professional look you’re looking for and your photos will come off way better than they would if taken with a digital camera. If you can’t afford to buy your own (they do tend to come with a hefty price tag), then why not ask around to see if any of your friends or family already own one?

If you have no luck on the SLR front, the latest smartphones can also take some pretty impressive photos – especially some of the later iPhone models. There are also a number of awesome editing apps that can help give your photos a professional edge.

Read: 7 Steps to Creating Picture-Perfect Product Images

Camera-Ready Models

Killer clothes need killer models to showcase them. There are many advantages to hiring models to show off your clothes – models can highlight the finer charms of your outfits, such as showing off an alluring off-the-shoulder piece, and can help infuse your clothes with more personality – compared to just using a mannequin.

Models can help sell your clothes by helping to sell a story or by evoking a certain emotion in people browsing your online store. If you style your model so that she looks relaxed, cool and happy, then these will be the kinds of emotions that customers relate to your brand and may feel like they can achieve by purchasing your product.

Girl image

Choosing the Right Models for Your Brand

What’s one of the of the most basic rules of marketing psychology? Sex and beauty sell. Hiring a good-looking model to sport your clothes is one of the best ways to present your brand as high-status and desireable.

However, while you may think that your models need the supermodel look, emulated by most of the top high-street and fashion brands, it’s more important to find the right models for your own brand’s personality and style.

You want to go for good looking models to represent your brand – but it can also work in your favour to go for models with a more everyday attractiveness to them, rather than the stereoptical runway model vibe. This can go a long way in helping your brand to feel more relatable and endearing, as the average woman on the street probably doesn’t feel like she can relate to the supermodel look and this can be one of the pros of going with a model that has a more down-to earth prettiness.

In addition, many brands pick models that represent their chosen demographic, as this helps make the items being sold seem more appealing – something that the customer can imagine themselves wearing and looking great in.

If your brand is alterative, it’s a good call to go with a model that has an alternative vibe about her; she might have some cool tattoos, or unique piercings – style choices that your chosen demographic would see as cool, or something that they themselves are likely to have. The right model can help your target customer to think, “This is my kind of brand.”

Finding your Models

Once you’ve figured out the kind of models you’d like to represent your brand, there are a number of ways to find just what you’re looking for. One route to take is the agency route. Agencies will list local models in your area and they tend to be reliable, but their services can be pretty pricey – depending on who you go with. In contrast, you can find a number of models online; check out online professional platforms, such as Model Mayhem, which have a number of model portfolios on offer.

Up Next

Now that we’ve covered all the basics that you need to know in order to start an online clothing store, we will teach you how to create a powerful brand story that will help make your brand more appealing to your chosen demographic.

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