Do you consider yourself a fashion guru? Have you been planning to launch a stunning online fashion store? This is the perfect time to make your dream come true! With the help of our 10-point versatile checklist, we would like to make sure you can get a headstart with your new business.
As the years go by, the number of people who choose to buy fashion products from online stores rather than going to brick-and-mortar shops is rapidly growing. Why is it? There is no specific reason that goes for only online fashion stores. We can talk about ecommerce businesses in general. The selection is bigger, the prices are more reasonable, it is comfortable to buy products without going anywhere. Moreover, the return and refund policies and shipping opportunities are getting better thus people are less afraid to purchase online.
One of the main factors you have to keep in mind: If people are insecure they won’t buy anything from you. You need to set up a store and create a brand that people immediately realize they can have trust in. The checklist below helps you make sure you don’t miss any important steps when launching your online fashion store.
Most online stores sell fashion products. These are the most popular items on the internet. People like surprising themself with clothing products and jewelry for example. It feels like Christmas for them when trying on the new pieces, and they feel special when they wear those items for the first time. These products also represent who they are, moreover shopping is also a good way of stress relief. Clothes, shoes, and accessories look very pretty so when women and even men get to see them online it is not easy to resist buying them. Especially if they are at a good price.
We also made a rewind for 2020 regarding which were the most popular product categories among retailers this year. 11 categories out of 20 were fashion items! Fascinating!
Before we start elaborating how you can start an online fashion business, we give you another top piece of advice to always keep in mind: Be unique! Don’t open an online fashion store to be just one in a million. It is very important to find a way to stand out from the crowd. We don’t just say it. We mean it.
- What is Needed to Start an Online Fashion Store?
- The Definition of ‘Fashion Store’
- The Ultimate 10-point Checklist:
- What Kind of Costs Occur When Starting an Online Fashion Store?
What you have to learn before opening any kind of store is that you will not be able to just find a product, open your store, and have your first sale on the very first day. So first of all what you need is patience and persistence.
Starting a business is a complex process. Even if you read many articles about how easy it is to be a millionaire with a fashion dropship store in a few days. There are hundreds of thousands of people who tried dropshipping. Have you heard of these hundreds of thousands of millionaires running around on the streets? We know your answer.
What are some basic qualities an online fashion store owner needs? The relevance of them depends on if you will work alone or in a team.
A. Skills and Traits
- Patience and persistence
- Hard work
- Strategy skills
- At least basic technical skills
- Marketing skills (e.g.: content creation, SEO, paid ads)
- Sales skills
- Financial, maths skills
- Empathy for an outstanding customer service
- Time management
- Expertise in your product niche
- Knowing the latest fashion trends
- Good sense for styles
B. Money and Time Investment
- Money: even at dropshipping, you need initial capital investment. Having a (traditional) online store is not just investing in product stock. Some expenses: monthly technical costs of running the online store, marketing costs, accountant, official fees of the entrepreneurship.
- Time: you need to spend weeks and months learning about how to run a business. After the big start you also can’t rest, it is never-ending learning because of the new trends and opportunities in ecommerce and fashion. In the beginning, you will probably have to manage everything while still having a full-time job. It will take all your free time. This is why it is important to be passionate about fashion. After the business is lucrative, it can be your new full-time job.
Of course, we are not trying to create an all-time, ultimate definition for what a fashion store is. Here we would just like to help you with what an online fashion store can sell, what makes a fashion store, and how you can be authentic.
What Can You Sell?
You can decide if you want to focus on only one kind of product, a certain category, or you want to be a general online fashion store. The list below is not full, it would be possible to continue them of course.
- Clothing products
- Tops, Shirts, T-Shirts, Long-sleeve shirts, Turtleneck shirts, Sweatshirts, Cardigans, Knitwear, Jackets, Coats, Pants and leggings, Shorts, Skirts, Dresses, Bikinis, Bathrobes, Baby & kids clothing, Jumpsuits, Sleepwear, Activewear, Suits
- Women’s Lingerie, Men’s Underwear, Children’s Underwear. In smaller categories e.g.: Briefs, Boxers, Erotic underwear, Knickers, strings and thongs, Shapewear, Undershirts, Bras, Camisoles & Tanks, Garters, Panties, Socks, Stockings
- Jewelry & Accessories
- Jewelry: Rings, Earrings, Necklaces, Bracelets, Brooches, Cufflinks, Piercing, Anklets,
- Accessories: Watches, Belts, Gloves, Hats and caps, Scarves, Sunglasses, Ties, Keyrings
- Wallets, Handbags, Crossbody bags, Backpacks, Briefcases, Clutch bags, Cosmetic bags, Luggage & travel bags, Coin purse & cardholder, Shoulder bags, Shopping bags
- Sneakers, Boots, Flats, High heels, Slippers, Moccasins, Sandals, clogs and flip flops, Kids footwear, Footwear accessories
There are different fashion styles and types you can pick from, we mention a few examples for you. Casual, Formal, Minimalist, Modern, Classical, Vintage, Artsy, Streetwear, Wedding-wear, Grunge, Chic fashion, Bohemian, Sexy, Trendy, Elegant, Western, Punk/rock/gothic, Sporty, Hip-hop, Military. It can also be Maternity wear, Small size, Plus size items.
How to be Authentic?
If you are planning to open a fashion store, you really need to be into trends and styles. Do not open a clothing store only to make money. Passion is important. You also need consistency, and always convey the same message with your written and visual content as well.
If you are representing a style, you can talk about it. You can also share information about what kind of pieces and colors fit the different body types and skin tones. Provide fun but detailed product descriptions, size charts as well. Make sure you sell high-quality products made from nice materials and also be sure the sizes work well, and for a person usually wearing a Small size, not a Large size will fit in the end.
The guide below can be useful for not only those who are just planning to start an online fashion store but for those as well who are about to launch any kind of store. We added some details that are fashion-specific ones, but you can make a twist on them and implement it to other store and product types as well.
You need to find a niche or winning product to sell in your online fashion store. Find something that makes you stand out from the crowd. Do not open a store that is the same as every second new online fashion store. Decide on if you want to sell low-ticket or high-ticket products. Make sure your target audience is in need of your chosen product, or there is a high potential that they will become fans of that new item on their market. How you can find what to sell?
- Ideas can come anytime during the day. Maybe you see something when walking on the street, or you are listening to a song, reading a book, watching a movie that inspires you.
- Check what is around you. Go for a walk in the city. Get inspiration from this little trip. Look at what other people wear, how the wind moves their scarf, and what you think is missing or would be better or more comfortable, beneficial for others.
- Find something you personally like and you are interested in. Do you have a huge bag collection in your closet? Maybe you should focus on selling bags.
- Social media is also a good source of product ideas. You can see what your friends, celebrities, influencers wear. And you can get to know what is trending currently. You can also ask questions in relevant groups. Check items by hashtags as well. Use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest for example.
- Market research is always a good idea. Ask the most relevant questions, and get at least a hundred people’s answers to see a comprehensive overview.
- Sit down and start brainstorming on what you think is missing from your market. Has it ever happened to you that you wanted to do something or get a product, but you couldn’t get it? Think about the past few years as well.
- Talk with other entrepreneurs. It can bring you to nice cooperations, and they can also help you get a hint about what products people are in need of.
- Check the fashion market and the biggest and local brands. Look at fashion shows, examine the biggest fashion brands’ selection, and look at what you can find in your local market. A great tip is to check the color of the year on the Pantone scale and build your online fashion store around it each year.
- Check marketplaces, directories, and browse among the listed items to get inspiration for what to fill your store with.
There are three main options of where you can get products from to fill your online fashion store with.
- Manufacture them: Are you a good tailor? Do you like creating bags or jewelry? If you are good at a fashion-related activity, a hobby you can consider selling your own products.
- Directly from a supplier: Do you know any companies whose products you like? If they can send you a data feed file, you can list their items easily into your store and make the data be up-to-date automatically with the help of an application.
- Marketplaces, directories: Check online directories, for example, Syncee Marketplace to find many suppliers from all around the world and their listed products. Fill your online fashion store in a few clicks.
It is an important part of the planning process to decide if you want to have physical inventory and invest in the stock in advance, before actually selling products or you want to work with dropshipping. The classic business model and the dropshipping model both have their own benefits. However, when it comes to an online fashion store, dropshipping is a more advantageous model. Why? Because you will not have any money in the product stock. Your customer will pay for the product which she picked and it will be forwarded to the supplier. The supplier will ship the paid orders one-by-one.
If you are manufacturing your own products, this topic is not relevant to you.
You need to build your brand from scratch. A brand is not just about a name or logo. You need to have your own unique identity. A brand is also a design, a symbol, the message you have, a color, and everything that identifies your service. It will make your product to be easily marketed. The brand is your company. You have to distinguish yourself from others on the market. Be unique, and always stand for the lifestyle you are associated with.
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room” – Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.
To build a meaningful brand you need to do the following steps:
- Check your competitors.
- Research your target audience.
- Choose your online fashion store’s, brand’s name, and slogan.
- Create a logo, and decide on the colors and fonts you use.
- Define your message and main focuses (for example: being eco-friendly)
- Register your business officially (Regarding business structure, taxes, getting licenses, etc. Always talk with your accountant.)
Do not start any business without making plans. In a business plan, you can outline your business goals and main strategies.
Let’s start elaborating on the financial details. It is best to make a list of your expenditures. About the one-time and your ongoing costs as well. After you are ready with making bullet points about your expenses you can set a goal of profit which is the difference between your total expenses and your total income. The reason why you need to consider these details is that you need to take care of not spending more money than you can afford.
Define your goals regarding what you would like to accomplish with your business. Do some research, like industry research and market analysis. Also think of legalities, product ranges, or customer research. Then everything will be in one place and while building your online fashion store and determining your target audience, you just have to check your business plan instead of start checking everything one-by-one while being in the middle of work progresses.
You need to describe the legal structure of your business, who will run the company. You need to write a logistics and operations plan too. It is best to check on your local offices for help regarding legal issues, tax-related topics+many more.
Probably it is helpful too to do SWOT analysis which is about determining your Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
You can find many useful business plan samples on the internet that can be helpful for you.
What is an ecommerce platform? Ecommerce platforms are the backbone of online stores, they allow merchants to manage their online sale operations. It is easier for them to start running an e-store on a platform rather than taking care of each and every technical detail.
Each platform provides different solutions, have their advantages and disadvantages. They allow many solutions themselves, but most of them have an AppStore where you can find useful applications, plugins. Ecommerce platforms help you manage the website and different operations, sales, and marketing. They can help regarding payment gateways, security, design, and structure themes + many more.
You have to check the platforms one-by-one and decide which one suits best your needs. You can make your decision based on for example if you want to work on a really easy-to-use platform, or you want a highly customizable solution.
What are some great options for example?
Now it is time to build your online fashion store. It is one of the most exciting steps because you can see something is really happening. You need to make sure your website is easy to use, and customers can find the information they are looking for immediately. It also had to look good. If it doesn’t look professional your visitors are more likely to leave your online fashion store without purchasing because of thinking you are not a reliable service.
If you are running your online fashion store on an ecommerce platform only a little technical skill is required for you to have. It is also something that depends on the certain platform’s specifics.
- Choose a design for your store. You can find many themes online which you can pick, it gives a nice structure and design to your website. There are free versions as well, but it can worth spending some money to have a more unique site. One of the most popular sources of themes is Themeforest/Envato Market where you can find themes for almost every ecommerce platform. Moreover, you can find themes on the platforms too, one like this is the Shopify Theme Store.
- Give a design to your online fashion store that is unique. Pick nice colors that will represent you on every social media platform as well. Use high-quality images and visuals.
- Write creative content to be on your home page and in each menu. Make sure they are grammatically correct.
- Provide useful product filters so customers can have a better shopping experience. Make every necessary setting in your store like shipping, payments + more.
- Upload your products to your online fashion store. If you do not have product descriptions for them, write them, and make sure they are useful and cool.
You need to decide which services and even strategies you are going to use for your online fashion store to make your job be as efficient and smooth as possible while you will be running your business.
- Shipping services, courier services
- Payment provider, payment gateway
- Refund, return policy
- Customer support service, chat software
- Newsletter software
- Product data updating application
- Cart abandonment tool
Without marketing do not start an online fashion store. Even well-known brands need promotions from time to time. If you are a beginner, there is no way for people to find your online fashion store and buy from there if you are not having any kind of marketing activities. Please do not add many pop-up messages to your store, because they can easily make your customers leave your site immediately.
In what way can you promote your online fashion store, what kind of marketing tools can you use?
- Be present on social media, post frequently.
- Run paid ads on social media. Facebook and Instagram are the most important.
- Create Google Ads.
- Start using SEO on your online fashion store, it generates free traffic for you.
- Write great content, use great visuals.
- Newsletters, email marketing.
- Attend fashion shows, trade shows.
- Leverage influencer marketing.
- Have a blog on your site, and write useful articles.
- Encourage word-of-mouth marketing.
- Start a loyalty program.
- Offer great, but reasonable discounts, use FOMO tricks (“Fear of missing out”), but not too harshly.
Now you are ready to sell! Make sure to provide the best for your customer and store visitors. Selling high-quality products on a high-quality website is key. Always stand for the lifestyle, the message you planned to be associated with. When a customer contacts you, always get back to them in not more than a business day. After having your first order do not forget to celebrate. Then stay hard-working so you can soar with your online fashion store in the long run.
This is the topic what most of the beginners are interested in. It is not possible to say an exact total cost in advance regarding opening an online fashion store. Unexpected expenses can also come anytime, it is the same as when you are building or renovating your own house. The other reason why it is not possible to calculate it in advance that goes for all e-retailers is that the total cost depends on what services and platform the merchants use. What you can read below is only a draft that you can use as a base for your initial calculations. You will have one-time and ongoing costs as well.
- Ecommerce platform’s subscription fee
- Subscription fees for the apps, plugins, software you use
- Marketing costs (marketing agent, ads, content writer, email marketing)
- Subscription at the supplier if needed
- Hosting, domain
- Design, theme
- Website designer
- Legal, official costs
- Warehouse if you don’t use dropshipping
As you can see, starting an online fashion store is not child’s play. You need to be passionate about fashion to be successful and do not lose your interest when any hardships come. If you are not the manufacturer of your own products, you can browse in great Marketplaces to find suppliers and to automate the product uploading and updating processes. You need to create a business plan so you can make sure you will not miss out on any important details. If you need any help opening an online fashion store, do not forget: you can always contact experts who will help you and save you from burning money.