If you are thinking about starting an online clothing store – now is the time to act! Launching an online business has never been easier – you can have your store up and running in no time. In this article, you will learn how to start an online clothing store in just a few easy steps.
Things to Do Before Starting an Online Store
If you’re not sure how to start an online clothing store, it’s always good to plan out your moves.
To make your store successful, there are several steps you need to take. We’ll divide them into two categories: steps to consider before opening an online store and steps to take after you want to launch it.
Pick Your Clothing Niche
Your clothing store should have a target audience. The idea that you can cater to everyone is a false mindset and will do more harm than good. That’s why it is important to determine your niche when starting an online clothing store.
By doing so, you’ll have a better picture of how to market your goods and how to utilize tools such as social media.
Make sure that your niche is interesting and achievable for you. Don’t aim for something completely out of reach.
Take some time when choosing your niche. Don’t rush it. After all, this is the foundation of what your clothing store looks like in the future.
Pick Your Business Model
When you want to start an online clothing store, you have to understand some business models. It’s a part of planning your business. Here are some models that you can choose from:
1. Print-on-Demand (POD)
POD (Print on Demand) is a model where you work with suppliers to print your design on blank products (with no designs or labels). There are loads of products available including t-shirts, hats, sweatshirts, tote bags, and many more.
This is how it works: your supplier will only process your products when a customer orders it. Then, they will ship it directly to your customers. You don’t need to do anything else.
But the drawback of this model is a low-profit-margin. On-demand products are more expensive because they’re produced per unit. It’s more suitable for those who are just starting out and want to test the waters.
2. Private Label Clothing Store
Private label business model is putting your label on products from private manufacturers. You choose the clothing from their portfolio, customize it with your design, and order the amount you want.
This method requires more initial capital because it usually has large minimum orders. However, you can gain more profit than POD because the production cost is much lower.
Be very prepared if you choose this business model. You must have a place to store your products. You will also handle the ordering fulfillment (a process of receiving orders until shipping the products).
3. Custom Cut-and-Sew Clothing Store
This business model is best suited for those who want to make their clothing line from scratch. You’ll handle all the production process: picking the right materials, design, production, and packaging.
The most significant advantage of this model is, of course, the uniqueness of your product. You can offer products that cannot be found anywhere else. It creates an exclusivity around your brand that separates you from competitors.
4. Dropshipping Clothing Store
Dropshipping is a low-risk and cost-effective business model. Similar to POD, you don’t have to deal with storing, packaging and shipping. All you need to do is forwarding the order to your supplier and they will handle everything onwards.
That being said, your product won’t stand out because other stores could be selling the same clothes. You must have good marketing strategies so people would choose to buy from your store.
Pick Your Brand Name
One of the hardest parts in starting an online clothing store is choosing a brand name. As the face of your business, your brand name should be unique and memorable.
Pick a name that can create a strong first impression and draw in new customers. Buyers will not hesitate to spend their money on an online store that appears trusted and legitimate.
But, that’s as far as a brand name goes. While it’s good to have a good first impression, what matters is how you build the brand into a strong unit.
You will need a strong marketing campaign to bring awareness to your brand, build trust and expand your business.
Taking Your Business Online
Now that you know where’s your business is going, it’s time to learn how to start an online clothing store. Follow these steps below so you don’t have to hire a professional to do it.
1. Get Hosting
To make your online store live on the internet, you’ll need to get web hosting. It ensures that your website has enough resources (such as bandwidth, server, and disk space) to keep running.
To get free hosting with 000webhost, simply go to our homepage and sign up. A confirmation email will be sent to you to complete the registration process.
2. Get a Domain Name
A domain name is the address of a website. For example, when people want to access Twitter, they will type the domain twitter.com into their browser.
We recommend having the same name for your business and your domain. Besides being easier to remember, it can make your business more credible and professional. Doing so is also part of building your brand name and establishing it in the online world.
If your desired domain name is already taken, you can try to make use of domain name generators.
At 000webhost, you will get a free subdomain (yourwebsite.000webhost.com):
Follow these steps below to grab your domain name:
- Sign in to your verified 000webhost account.
- Click + button to create a new website.
- Fill out your website’s name and password. The website’s name will be your domain name.
- Click create.
If you don’t want to have a subdomain, explore premium Hostinger plans, where you will get a domain for free.
3. Choosing a CMS
CMS, short for Content Management System, is software you use to build and manage your website and it’s content. Themes, layout, widgets, and plugins – all things that make a great website – will depend on the CMS.
While there are many options available, we always recommend WordPress. It’s free, highly customizable, and has a large and helpful community. What’s more, over than 28% of all online stores are powered by WordPress’ plugin, WooCommerce. No doubt that they are the perfect option in starting an online clothing store.
With 000webhost, you can install and launch WordPress in just a few clicks.
4. Picking a Template and Customizing Your Site
Below are the steps to set up a theme of your choice:
- Log in to your WordPress dashboard.
- Go to Appearance >> Themes. Click the big + button.
- Click Feature Filter, tick E-commerce box and click Apply Filters.
- Pick a theme then click install and activate.
After the theme is installed, you can start to modify it by clicking Customise – located within the Appearance menu. You can edit the background image, menu, widgets, layout, and the features that come with the theme.
5. Making Your Site Into a Store
Alright! Your beautiful website is up and running. But it has no features like online stores would normally have (checking out products, giving ratings, product filters, etc). This is why you need WooCommerce.
Here are the steps to install WooCommerce:
- Navigate to your WordPress dashboard >> Plugins >> Add New >> Search Plugins.
- Search for “WooCommerce”
- Click install and activate.
After completing the installation, you’ll be prompted with WooCommerce Setup Wizard. It will guide you through the necessary steps to set up your online store.
WooCommerce will recommend some payment methods for your website after completing your store’s details. The recommendation will depend on the location of your store and whether you’re selling individually or as a company.
By turning on the available options, all required plugins for the payment gateway will be installed and activated for you. You don’t need to install other plugins.
Later on, if you want to install other payment methods, there are plenty of other WooCommerce payment gateways available.
For the complete explanation on how to use the setup wizard, check out the official setup guide.
6. Getting Traffic
All the steps above boil down to one thing: getting visitors and converting them to buy.
You might’ve heard that you need Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to make your website rank higher on engines like Google.
The same thing also applies to ecommerce sites. When starting an online clothing store, you need to make sure people will find your store by ranking higher on search results.
As such, there are several ways to implement the basics of SEO to your online shop:
- Build a simple website structure – meaning your online store should have clear navigation. Make sure that potential customers and search engine crawlers can easily find what they’re looking for.
- Use keywords, but don’t overstuff it with all possible synonyms. Search engines will detect your store as spam.
- Always include product descriptions. They provide additional details about the topic of your product page, both for humans and search engines. The clearer what your product page is about, the higher it’ll rank.
- Keep your URL structure short and clear. Besides keywords, a proper URL structure also helps search engines to know what your page is about. For example, the category page for women’s shoes should be youronlinestore.com/women/shoes.
- Always write proper ALT text for your product images. Search engines don’t understand images, so you have to help them by adding text attributes. Without these texts, your product images will be lost on the web because search engines can’t find them. Also, you can save hosting storage and lower load speed by using free image hosting sites.
Learn other ways to increase your store’s ranking with our in-depth list of SEO tips.
Starting an online store is a promising business. If you choose to create one, the steps below can help you out:
- Determine your clothing niche by identifying who’s your target market is
- Pick your business model to determine how you’re going to run your store
- Use a unique and strong brand name
- Get a free hosting to host your online store
- Choose a domain with the same name as your business name
- Pick the right CMS. We recommend WordPress
- Make your site into a store by setting up WooCommerce
- Implement the basics of SEO to attract visitors
As you can see, you don’t need to have technical skills to start an online clothing store. However, you do have to work hard to turn your store into a profitable one. Good luck!