NET-A-PORTER Limited
NET-A-PORTER Limited

Tips to start your first e-commerce fashion business

Over the last 20 or so years, the rise of e-commerce has completely transformed the traditional sales landscape and brought opportunities to retailers big and small across all sectors. These days, it’s easier than ever to get set up online - either by enlisting the help of a professional development firm or using one of the several online web builder tools that are now available.

Tapping into a captive market 

While e-commerce has been growing across most markets, the fashion sector was slower to grow, with many people still preferring to try on outfits before purchasing. However, with better technologies like 3D demos, streaming videos, and more accurate sizing, the shift to buying clothing online is now catching up with traditional brick and mortar stores - particularly among the younger, more tech-savvy generations. Indeed, a recent study found that 56% of Gen-Xers and 67% of Millennials prefer to buy clothes from e-commerce sites.

Planning your e-commerce clothing store

As with most things in life, planning ahead pays dividends and maximizes your chances of starting an e-com clothing store. While setting up an online shop is much easier and cheaper than a real-world store, there are still a few things you should consider:

Try to find a niche: Unfortunately, one definite drawback of trying to start an e-com clothing store is the amount of existing completion already online. Consequently, you need to try and find a niche if you’re going to stand any hope of attracting customers. Going into this market, you’ll be up against established, powerful retailers that have considerable advertising budgets, so try to find a unique angle or an area that isn’t already saturated.

Decide whether to build the site yourself or use a development company: While setting up a website is now easier than ever, you will get much better results working with a professional firm. In addition, web developers have design and coding skills that go far beyond those of the common web user so, if your budget can stretch to it, you should hire the services of a professional firm.

Choose your e-commerce platform and host: If you go with a development firm, they will advise you on the best hosting and e-com platform to use for your site. Otherwise, you should check online review sites for top-rated services. 

Work out how you’re going to deliver goods: Selling is just one smart of the process - after that, you’ve also got to get your goods to your clients. Depending on how quickly your site grows, you might want to find a long-term partner or, alternatively, you could use hot shot trucking services. Hot shot trucking can be a particularly good option for when you’re starting out as a way to minimize costs.

Choose a catchy domain name: Your domain name (also sometimes called URL) is the name your customers will type into a browser to get to your store - so you ideally want to pick something short, catchy and memorable that sums up what you do.

Populate your site and go live: Most development firms will supply you with a blank canvas site powered by a Content Management System (CMS) ready for you to add products - it’s very rare for companies to populate sites for clients. Consequently, you’ll need to add product images, descriptions, order options, prices, etc., yourself before being able to sell online. Once you’re done adding product, you can push your site live and wait for the orders to start flowing in.

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