E-commerce is easier than you think, and our how-to guide will help you get your online clothing store up and running now.
What you need to do is:
1. CHOOSE A BRAND NAME:
- Is it easy to remember
- Non-exclusive to a particular garment or style
- Available for Business Name Registration
- Available for domain names
2. GET PRODUCTS:
What are you going to sell? Shorts, shirts, dresses, skirts, shoes; all of the above?
Know your niche and target demographic. Get inside their mind. What do they want? Once you have your product don’t just release it into the online world and hope for the best. Test it.
Hold a “focus group” [for market research] to see whether people like your product. Have some friends and other opinionated people [from all age brackets and demographics] come and see your product, try it on, and give their two-cents about it. Have a list of questions ready, including what do they like/not like about the product and how much are they willing to pay for it?
A great way to start out if you have designs for clothing graphics but don’t want to print them all yourself is with The Printful, they drop ship all sorts of products featuring your designs and you can decide how much you want to charge your customers.
3. GET A SHOPPING CART:
The easiest and fastest way to get your online clothing store live is to register with a shopping cart. We use Shopify as the interface is easy to use and suits small e-commerce stores with the option to upgrade as you grow. They keep updating their templates and applications so there is heaps of flexibility and freedom to tailor your website to customers. For the 10 best Shopify apps click here.
A shopping cart is easier than self-hosting because you can have a website set up in 30 minutes through a shopping cart without having to worry about trust certificates and getting someone to design your webpage. If thinking of self-hosting you have to pay for the domain name, pay for hosting, security, webpage design, get coding done and you can’t just go in and easily edit your website when you like.
With a shopping cart software like Shopify you can go in behind the scenes and change your logos or page information, add or delete products, change freight information, choose your own credit card payment gateway and select or edit a new template store design. There’s no mucking around with html (although you have the freedom to if that’s your realm of expertise or enjoyment).
It’s so much faster and easier to get your website up and running through a shopping cart and getting your site live is first priority. You can always change to self-hosting down the track if you wish.
4. GET A DOMAIN NAME:
You can either buy a domain name [www.clothes.com] through a host or buy it through Shopify and have it all integrated. It’s worthwhile buying the additional domain endings for your site if they are available (i.e. .net; .net.au; .co etc.). It’s a small price to pay for extra security and so that if people forget the ending of your website they can still reach it.
5. PUT PRODUCTS ON YOUR SITE:
So now that you have a website you can start uploading products to sell (although before you’re ready to go live you may want to set up a landing page/under construction banner).
Useful pages to have on your website include:
- ABOUT US
- RETURNS & SHIPPING
- CONTACT US
You’ll need photos of products, including descriptions (pricing, sizing, colour etc.) which all adds to SEO so don’t just skip over this part. It will take time but if you do it right now it will save a lot of time later on.
Be sure to include a sizing chart, especially if including international shipping. Have both a measurement chart (in centimetres) and an international conversion chart.
6. UPLOAD SITE INFORMATION:
Now that you have pages on your website you need to upload information correspondingly.
If you want to integrate Google Shopping with your products you need to get the categories right otherwise Google won’t use them. For more information on Google Shopping click here.
When writing product descriptions and page content it is important to integrate with keywords so that your site is optimised for Google. You’ll need to use Google Keyword Planner which is part of a Google Adwords account. Basically you can see what the monthly search volume is for a specific word or phrase, and if there is much competition for these search results. The aim is to pick ones which have a high search volume but which are low in competition.
You can use adwords here so that an ad pops up at the top of Google. The less competition there is the cheaper the adwords will be. You have to make sure that you are targeting people who are looking to buy, not just those searching for information on a specific product or designer.
Be creative and interesting with site content; you need both quality and quantity. Know your demographic and write for them; use jargon which is suitable for your audience.
7. INTEGRATE PAYPAL:
So your products are uploaded with prices and descriptions, pages are finalised with stimulating and optimised content. Now it’s time to integrate PayPal (or another payment gateway of your choosing). This is easy to do through Shopify.
8. SET UP SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS
At least get the usernames for all the above social media websites even if you don’t end up using them. Your target demographic will dictate which ones you use primarily but target Facebook, Twitter and Instagram initially. Have similar content to your website but slightly different, but maybe more personalised and socially directed.
9. PROMOTIONAL STRATEGY
- Social media strategy:
After acquiring social media accounts you need to think about a strategy which targets your market demographic. What hash tags will you use, will you run competitions to increase sharing, will you build an online community and hold one-off events for your followers/customers?
Write down a list of things you would like to do through social media and break it down into daily tasks. Draw up a schedule and set a reminder so you don’t forget to post regularly. Think of ways to create interesting content which you can post across all channels of social media. Include photos, write quirky things and don’t just sell. Be creative because at the end of the day people aren’t going to buy from you if you just push them to buy all the time. Build a relationship with your followers and you’ll have more chance of getting repeat customers and recommendations.
You may also want to inquire about advertising online on a specific website or in an e-newsletter to reach more people. Costs vary depending on the type and placement of the advertising as well as the reputation of the website and how well-known it is. Advertising on blogs is quite popular but can be more expensive than banner advertising on a site. Responses vary so you’ll want to research and compare the input vs. output cost and outcome.
Another promotional strategy is to have a stall or a pop-up stall at local markets. Not everyone is a fan of online shopping so if you go to markets and people see, try on, and buy your clothes, they are far more likely to buy from you online. It is a way of getting known in the local community and spreading via word-of-mouth. Building credibility online takes time so to help speed the process strengthen the relationship between you and your customers, markets can be a sure-fire way to accomplish this.
10. LAUNCH TIME
So probably by now you’re at a stage where you are ready or close to being ready to launch your product or clothing label. There are a series of things you can do to promote yourself further by launching and getting your name out there:
- Live website
- Hype (YouTube video) – circulate via social media
- Launch party with some industry people
- Blog post/news article on your new brand