13 Tips for Starting Your Own Clothing Line Online

Last updated on : December 01 2021

Chothes are hanging.

Now is the perfect time to start an online clothing line. The retail e-commerce industry is worth $102.5 billion, according to Statista, and they estimate that it will grow to $153.6 billion by 2024. But an online store isn’t just about buying a domain and posting a well-curated product line. It’s hard work!

If you’re in a popular niche, it doesn’t mean that you’ll instantly get success. The opposite may be true since consumers have many options. You have to come up with something that differentiates you from the rest of the pack. Don’t get intimidated, though. If you want to latch on to this trend but are unsure of where to begin, here are 13 tips to get you started. 

Market Research

Many new businesses fail because there is no demand, either because the market is already saturated or consumers do not want what they’re trying to sell. That is why it’s essential to conduct market research beforehand to identify a gap in the market that isn’t being filled. Whether establishing a clothing label or starting a T-shirt business, don’t skip this step if you want to start on the right foot. 

Market research could either be primary or secondary. The former is the kind of research you do on your own, while the latter is data from studies already done by other firms, such as Nielsen or NPD. However, research reports can be expensive to obtain, so you’re better off doing primary research. Google Trends and Facebook Analytics is a good starting point.

Target Audience

Knowing your target audience means identifying the specific groups of people who may want or need your products. A significant factor in the success of an online clothing store is how well you understand your target audience since these are the people that you will regularly engage.

You should research two essential aspects of your target audience. One is demographics, which deal with age, gender, income, and geographic location. The other is psychographics, which pertains to people’s interests, lifestyle traits, and buying behaviors. The more you learn, the better your chances in securing a sale and fostering customer loyalty are.

Niche

Since clothes vary depending on style and season, it’s crucial to determine which apparel or clothing niche you want to sell in. Are you going for classic and flattering dresses or more experimental with graphic tees that heavily reference pop culture?

Choosing a niche that you have a genuine interest in with earning potential will help you develop a product list tailored to your specific target market. Whatever you choose, the trick is to double down on your niche so you’ll quickly set yourself apart from other clothing lines. 

Products

Clothes hanged on a clothes rack

Most experts will tell you to start small then branch out later as your line grows when starting an online clothing store. You’ll overwhelm your target consumers with unnecessary options if you sell every piece of clothing.

That’s why selecting a niche is essential because it delimits the kind of products you might want to develop. Brands like Converse or Vans are great examples. While they now sell accessories and apparel, their primary business and what they’re known for are their sneakers. 

Business Model

There are four general categories that online clothing stores fall into - print-on-demand, custom cut-and-sew, private label, and dropshipping.

Print-on-demand is the most accessible business model to set up, but it offers low profit margins. The customer selects or provides the design, and the store prints it on blank apparel. The process is usually automated.

Custom cut-and-sew is best for entrepreneurs who want to build their clothing line from scratch. Everything is done in-house, from designing and manufacturing to fulfillment.

Private label is when you buy wholesale blank apparel, customize them however you want, and sell and market them under your brand. 

Dropshipping is when a wholesaler directly supplies and ships the clothes to customers on your behalf. Dropshipping is a good business model if you want to test a market for a particular product.

Business Plan

An ideal business plan covers the first few years of your online clothing store. A good business plan outlines who you are as a company, what you’re trying to accomplish, why you think you’ll be successful, and how you plan to meet your goals.

Although things might not work out as planned, it’s always good to work toward a specific goal. If you have plans on expanding your clothing line, your business plan is what you’ll show to investors. A well-thought-out plan shows promise and will be more likely to get investors on board to help you grow your business.

Branding

A strong brand identity is critical if you’re starting in a clothing niche that is already saturated. Your brand is more than just your name and logo; it’s how people perceive your business.

Materials representing your brand—the color palette, graphics, illustrations, photos, and copies—should all be cohesive and point to a particular look and feel. 

Developing a brand can be intimidating, but you can hire professional photographers and graphic designers to help you produce your brand materials. However, if you don’t have the budget, there are a lot of free resources online that you can take advantage of to create your own.

Design

A dress maker creating lace dress

What the clothes look like is one of the primary things that a person considers before buying. The design may mean just the print on a blank shirt or everything from the cut and color of the apparel. You may need a small talent pool of creatives to help you build your product line. This approach is most appropriate for a custom cut-and-sew and private label business model.

Designing also includes preparing a tech pack containing basic info the manufacturer needs in producing your clothing line. It includes measurements, materials used, and other technical specifications and product details.

Vendors

Quality is another factor that buyers look into, so it’s never a good idea to compromise on materials and overall product quality. That’s why finding the right vendors that will supply you with materials or manufacture your clothes is a big deal. Don’t let your designs look good only on paper. 

Always vet your vendors to make sure that you’re working with only the best. Ask detailed questions, take note of their response times, and check online for reviews made by other clothing businesses. Consider where the vendor company is located. Overseas manufacturers might offer better deals, but they can have potential drawbacks, such as logistical delays, lower product quality, and unethical working conditions.

Price Point

In pricing, you have to consider how much it costs to create the clothes, otherwise known as the cost of goods sold (COGS). These include things like labor, cost of materials, and production. Factor in overhead costs as well or how much you spend in running your business.

The keystone markup is a standard pricing method where the price is double the cost of producing the good. For example, if you spent $10 making a clothing item, you sell it for $20. But bear in mind that the price should cater to your target audience as well. Find the sweet spot of how much they are willing to pay.

Online Store

The first thing that you need in creating your online clothing store is a domain. A domain is an address that people will type on their browsers to lead them to your store. As soon as you have a store name, buy the domain right away to ensure it’s available while you’re developing your product line.

Your online store is as essential as the products you’re selling. The clothes must have photos, sizes, and descriptions since online shoppers can’t physically examine the clothes themselves. Also, the shopping experience, especially the checkout process, on your online store should be seamless; otherwise, you’ll risk losing paying customers.

Launch

How will you build hype for the launching of your online clothing store? People are not going to flock to your website if they don’t know it exists. Promote your business through email blasts or on social media sites like Facebook or Instagram.

Weeks or days before the launch, publish teaser photos of your clothing line so that people will know about your business and the products you sell. You can also take advantage of influencer culture. Prepare a PR package that you can send to select influencers so that they can talk about your online store and feature your clothes on their platform.

Online Traffic

The greatest challenge after the launch is sustaining the number of people who visit your online store. You can generate traffic to your online store through PPC (pay-per-click) ads, email marketing, SEO (search engine optimization), social media marketing, and influencers. For a clothing line with no established name yet, you should invest in establishing your brand through social media campaigns, SEO, and Google PPC ads

Conclusion

These 13 tips are just a starting point to give you a general idea of establishing your online clothing line. 

The retail e-commerce industry is booming. It’s a sign that more people are embracing the idea of shopping from the comforts of their own homes. 

Take advantage of this upward trend now.

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The Kewl Shop

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