Start an Online Fashion Store in 7 Simple Steps – Part 1
Updated: Feb 5, 2021
The world is becoming fashion-savvier day by day. People are more concerned about how closely they resemble their on-screen idols. The eCommerce fashion industry is growing steadily, thanks to higher buying power among fashion consumers. As eCommerce gains importance over the traditional business, thanks to repeated discount sales, owning a clothing line or an online fashion store has economic as well as social rewards. Empowered by passion and the right set of tools, you can also set up your own online fashion business.
According to The Fashion and Apparel Industry Report, the worldwide revenue of the eCommerce fashion industry is expected to rise to $712.9 billion by 2022.
Whatever brought eCommerce fashion brands like Myntra and Limeroad into the game, has now become so mainstream that online fashion stores have gained importance like never before. But that’s part of a new problem too. It has made the eCommerce fashion industry a challenging and highly competitive business area to enter into.
At a time when every other Instagram page turns out to be another clothing label, it seems hard to pursue your passion in the industry. Competition has skyrocketed in a matter of just a few years.
So how do you dive in and do your thing without becoming just another head in the crowd?
Whether you do excellent marketing and rise to the top or grow organically by word of mouth, here’s what you need to know if an eCommerce fashion biz is on your mind.
How to Start Your Own Online Fashion Store?
Setting up an online fashion store has two parts, basically: The first is the ideation and planning phase. This is where you decide what to sell, how much, at what price, where you procure it from; this is your entire business plan. I’ll try to tackle this part in this post.
The second part is where you execute your plan. It encompasses publishing your website, maintenance and marketing. So, if you’re with me, here’s how to set up your online fashion store in 7 simple steps!
Laying out your Fashion Business Plan
This is all about the business part of starting a clothing line online: Vision and Objective, Market Study, Business Model Building, Financials; make sure you have the whole of business and finance sorted here.
Step 1: What’s your Product?
So, first up, what are you selling? Don’t jump in and just say I want a little bit of everything. You can definitely do that, but that’s for later. Once you make the initial reputation and revenue that you badly need, you can expand in any direction.
So, it’s crucial to stick to the basics. Start an online store of a product within a narrowed down niche that has lots of earning potential. Like, pop culture – You could sell tees, hoodies and jackets with printed literature. Upasana, a brand from Auroville, markets in the niche of conscious fashion – with khadi and upcycled products. Brands like The Souled Store and Zivame have created a name for themselves within their niche.
Narrowing the niche, in the beginning, is especially important. For example, the brand Mrs Bow Tie started out with bow ties that were made in Britain, the latter being the USP of their product. After tremendous success with one product, they expanded to other men’s accessories and haven’t had to look back.
If you’re confused, you can always check out the ‘popular’ section on Amazon to check the sales trend in each category and base your business accordingly.
When you’re looking to start an online fashion store, start with a niche that has lots of earning potential.
Take your growth seriously but slowly.
Expand when your reputation has gone up in the selected niche and diversify your market.
Check the popular or trending section on Amazon or AliExpress for inspiration for a fashion business niche.
Step 2: What’s your Business Model?
Before we talk any more about setting your own online fashion business, we need to figure out how the business works. Most e-commerce fashion businesses stick to any of these mainstream business models. So let’s give it a thought: Do you want to make, manufacture, print on demand, wholesale, dropship or become an affiliate?
Start a fashion business from scratch:
If your clothing/fashion business wants to make products from scratch, then the costs right from procurement of raw material to the sale have to be covered by you. However, it ensures that quality control can be carried out precisely and efficiently. Crow is a fashion clothing line where each piece is handwoven.
Manufacturing for fashion eCommerce:
In manufacturing, you associate with a manufacturing partner who produces your product. Importing from countries like China or Taiwan is a more economically viable option to start your own fashion store than reaching out to domestic manufacturers.
Print-on-Demand business model:
Here, you have the finished goods ready; designs are printed, are the final products are sold on demand. An example of such a business is Printfy, an online fashion store that sells printed caps,
T-shirts, hoodies, etc. Custom t-shirt printing sales are projected to reach $10 billion by 2025. For small businesses starting out, print-on-demand is a feasible option, although the profit margin is low.
This is a risk-free method of conducting business, especially avoiding the high costs incurred in manufacturing or making. As the owner, you don’t have to fuss with issues like quality since you’re already buying from good brands. The idea is simple: buy from a wholesaler at a discounted rate, and sell it higher.
Dropshipping business model:
In dropshipping, you sell products procured from a supplier at your own prices. While you market the company and take online orders from customers, the supplier is also responsible for shipping. The margin comes from the difference between what you charge from your consumers and what you are charged by the supplier.
Affiliate marketing for fashion business:
There are a few differences between affiliate marketing and dropshipping. Both are low-risk business methods, and both involve selling goods that are not your own. But in affiliate marketing, you don’t set the product price. Also, while the business owner gets paid on their product sale in dropshipping, affiliate marketers earn a commission.
Start an online fashion store from scratch: Costs from procurement of raw material to the sale; precise quality control.
Manufacture: Large scale manufacturing by partners overseas reduces cost compared to cut-and-sew or make model.
Print-on-demand: Printing is done as per demand on the already finished goods. Goos for companies starting out.
Dropshipping: You set the prices, market and take orders; supplier/dropship partner supplies product and takes care of shipping.
Affiliate: You market and sell products of an eCommerce giant, and earn a commission on the sales.
Step 3: Strategize (Brand positioning, competitor analysis, pricing, margins)
The next step is to build a strategy for your online clothing line or eCommerce fashion business. When you strategise, it must cover all the aspects of the brand that you’re seeking to establish; like,
Who are you targeting?
Know your market. In the fashion business, as in any other business, it is essential to know where your traffic is coming from and divide that traffic into further groups called segments. Market segmentation means dividing your target market/potential customers into groups called segments based on specific characteristics. These characteristics include how they respond to marketing strategies, customer age, location, etc.
What is your unique offer to your customers?
What prompts a customer to buy are many things; if you want to get ahead of the competition, your product USP must be actually unique. You might have selected your niche, but how do you present it before your target market? How do you position yourself as a brand?
Have you analysed your competition?
Ask yourself these questions:
Who are your competitors?
Are they growing in the market?
What’s their current position?
What aspect of theirs can you outdo?
What’s the price?
Pricing is an integral part of your business plan. The best way to price is to analyse your competition. How much are they charging? Also, since eCommerce is an area where prices keep fluctuating dramatically, you must take efforts to continually update them. This ensures that you’re not pricing yourself right out of the market.
The best way to do competitive pricing is through data scraping. Want help understanding it? Visit an expert.
The eCommerce fashion industry is definitely one with tons of opportunities, and starting an online fashion store is a challenge that an entrepreneurial mindset can tackle. However, be careful to address the key points that a fashion business needs to acknowledge – like the uniqueness of the product, market segmentation, robust business model, competitive pricing.
We’ll be back soon with Part 2 of Start an Online Fashion Store in 7 Simple Steps!