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Starting an online clothing shop? Here are 10 tips for success…
Whether you’re an old hand or fairly new to selling on the web, we’re here to help with ways to make your online clothes shop a success.
According to research from Mintel, online fashion sales in the UK increased by a staggering 152% in the five years to 2011 and the sector continues to grow as more and more people get used to the idea of buying things they can’t touch or try on, and as retailers get better at showcasing their products online.
Not confined to the UK, this is a trend reflected around the world, with clothing topping the list of items purchased online globally.
It’s no wonder then, that so many are setting up or already have an online clothing shop.
And if you do decide to start your own online shop with us, our guide tells you all you need to know: How to create an online shop
1. Decide on your USP and shout about it
Why should people buy a piece of jewellery from you and not from another site? What is it that makes your clothing different? Whatever it is that makes you and your products special be sure to let people know about it.
2. Make your shop name relevant and unforgettable
This point speaks for itself really. But don’t complicate things with an overly complex or long name, as people may struggle to remember it. When someone asks a customer where their super cute shirt/bag/ring is from, you want them to be able to name your site.
3. Study your competitors’ pricing (and make yours more appealing)
You want people to choose you over your competitors, of course, so check out who they are, what they sell, and what they charge. Think about rewarding customers with special offers and sales too.
4. Tidy your shop and categorise
Make viewing your products as easy as possible for visitors. If it’s a chore to find something they’re after, the chances are they’re not going to stick around, so make sure you divide your products into sensible categories so visitors know where they’re going.
5. Make your products sing with your descriptions
Think about your target audience for each product and write the description as if it’s a sales pitch to them. Explain what it is, how it fits, and how it will benefit the buyer. Include plenty of specifics, from the materials used to features and specifications. And if they’ve been featured in the press, make sure you shout about that too – it really can seal the deal. Most of all, write with passion – these are your products after all!
6. Dazzle with your product photography
So you’ve got your product description down, but it won’t do much good if your product photography isn’t brilliant to match. It’s up to you whether you choose to display clothes on a model or as they are, but make sure you include three or four images showing different aspects of your product, from different angles and zoom levels, including close-ups of the material and patterns. Visitors like to see as much detail as possible before parting with their cash. Let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than receiving something you’re planning to wear the next night only to find that it doesn’t fit. Cue anguish and wailing. So, to avoid such scruples, make sure you provide exact measurements. If you’re selling to an international audience this is even more important, so be sure to include the details in different formats too.
8. Don’t go overboard with shipping prices
Your product prices may be spot on, but if you have extortionate shipping costs it’ll really put people off buying from you. Once you’ve worked out what it will cost you to send items, work back from that, including any packaging costs. Alternatively, factor shipping costs into your overall costs and you can offer ‘free shipping’.
9. Make returning items a doddle
Hopefully, you won’t get too many returned items thanks to your spot-on product descriptions and sizing info, but having a fuss-free returns policy should make you stand out as the shop to buy from.
10. Get social
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years you’ll know that social media is taking off in big and numerous ways. So, it’s kind of expected that you’ll be using social platforms already – whether to advertise special offers and new products or simply to connect with customers who want to chat. But it goes further than that – by 2015 it’s predicted that 50% of web sales are set to occur via social media channels. If you want to get in on the action, you can sell on Facebook by creating your own Facebook shop that links to your website, see our ‘how to’ guide for step-by-step instructions here.
So that’s that. Do let us know how you get on with the advice, and we’d love to hear any more from our veteran clothes shops out there – share in the comments below if you have any wisdom to spread.
And to those of you starting out, it’s worth bearing in mind that it may take a little time before the orders come flooding in – the web’s a big place and you’ll need to work hard to make your name known and build your customer base.
Oh, and remember, if you do decide to start your own online shop with us, our guide tells you all you need to know: How to create an online shop Happy selling!
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10 Things You Need to do When Starting a New Fashion Business
Starting a fashion business can be very rewarding, but also demanding, as you’ll need to juggle many balls to get the business launched and trading successfully. Research and planning are key. With a large amount of competition out there, it’s essential to have a business strategy in place, and clear brand positioning.
Alison Lewy shares 10 things you need to do when starting a new fashion business.
1. Create a business plan: A business plan is your personal roadmap outlining your goals, visions and objectives and not just needed for raising finance. It will be central to your business development and a useful tool to measure your progress against your projections.
2. Work out your startup costs: You need to know how much finance you’ll need to start up and run the business until it starts generating income. Don’t forget to include the cost of your sample collection, any special equipment needed, marketing materials, website, trademark and professional fees, insurance, and any deposits required for rent or utilities.
3. Check out your competitors: Don’t be afraid of competition as it proves there’s demand for your type of product. You can learn a lot by analysing your competitor’s business model, and it’ll help you identify what your own unique selling proposition (USP) will be to differentiate your label from other, comparable brands.
4. Create a strong brand: Branding is central to the way the public perceives your label. Your customers should develop an emotional connection, and brands that create a strong identity across all their communication channels, are the ones most likely to endure.
5. Trademark your brand: Your brand name is one of your most valuable assets, so it’s important to protect it. The easiest way is by registering it as a trademark, however before you invest in trademarking and in your brand collateral, make sure you check your chosen name isn’t registered by someone else!
6. Understand your target customer/s: Create a profile for each type of potential customer including demographics, shopping and lifestyle habits. This information will be useful when creating your product range and inform your marketing strategy. If you’re selling at wholesale, analyse the buying patterns and brands stocked by the retailers you wish to sell to.
7. Plan your collection: It’s tempting to get carried away when designing a collection, but for the first few seasons it’s better to offer a tight, focused selection, rather than try to please everyone. It will be easier to produce too! You can diversify and expand once you’ve built your reputation and have sales history to base decisions on.
8. Start looking for manufacturers ASAP: Often the hardest part of a fashion business is finding factories to produce your samples and production. It can take time to identify suppliers that can meet your requirements, but until you do, you won’t be able to know if you can produce your products at a cost that lets you make enough of a profit margin.
9. Keep a tight control of your finances: Monitor your cash flow on a regular basis. This will help you foresee any potential problems arising and allow you to find solutions, rather than suddenly being faced with not being able to pay your bills or suppliers.
10. Embrace networking: You’ll need all the help you can get, so think about joining groups where you can meet and forge collaborations with other like-minded designers and entrepreneurs. Always carry business cards with you and always ask for one, so you can start to build your own database of useful contacts.
Starting a fashion business isn’t easy, but with passion, drive and a clear vision it can be one of the most exciting and fulfilling industries to work in.
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