An online clothing store can be a profitable venture. But you must sell clothing items that appeal to large groups of customers. One way to check this is by searching the type of clothing you plan to sell on a search engine. You can then compare the number of searches for those types of clothing items. One major facet of an online store is shipping. Drop shippers are large wholesalers that mail products for their distributors. You need to find a drop shipper that mails single products to your customers. Otherwise, it will be necessary to stock large inventories of products, which is cost-prohibitive for small distributors like you.
Set aside a room in your home for your online clothing business; you may be able to deduct part of your mortgage as an office expense on your taxes.
Choose the type of clothing you plan to sell online. Select a specialty clothing line such as children's or women's clothing, which enables you to better target your customers. Visit competitive websites to get an idea of specific products to sell. Write these products down on a notepad so you can later reference them.
Find a wholesale or manufacturer supplier for your clothing line. Go to Thomasnet.com for manufacturers, advises the Business Know-How website. Check eBay, which often has large wholesalers who are looking for distributors. Visit Wholesalecentral.com and 4WholesaleUSA.com for wholesalers. Look through various clothing trade publications, as wholesalers often advertise in them. Go to Tradepub.com for a list of trade publications.
Call various clothing wholesalers and manufacturers. Find out which ones do drop shipping. Ask the wholesalers and manufacturers for price lists so you can compare costs. Inquire what the shipping turnaround times are with the drop shippers. Select the drop shipper(s) that offers the lowest prices and quickest shipping times.
Create a website for your online clothing business. Ask your drop shipper if it has pictures and descriptions of all your products. Order some of the main clothing items and take pictures with a digital camera. Post all pictures and product descriptions on your website along with their respective prices.
Obtain a merchant account for your online clothing website so you can accept credit card orders. Ask your bank whether it offers these services.
Find a domain name for your online clothing website. GoDaddy and Yahoo! are examples of websites that sell domains. Choose a domain name that best describes your online clothing business, such as "Kidsclothes4less.com." Register your domain name.
Find a host for your online clothing website. GoDaddy, Yahoo! iPage.com are examples of host providers. Sign up with your host for one year, which is the typical time frame.
Register your online clothing business website with all the major search engines, including Google, Yahoo, Lycos, AltaVista and MSN. Start your online advertising campaign with Google AdWords, as it can provide your with maximum initial exposure. Use social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to promote your clothing. Promote your business in clothing magazines such as Women Within, if you are selling women's clothing. Include your phone number and website in your ad. Start small and gradually advertise in more search engines and clothing publications.
Test your advertising so you know which ones are eliciting traffic and orders. Use Google's tracking software or SpectorSoft for all online ads. Key your magazine ads with unique code numbers. Ask customers for the codes when they call so you know from which source they were referred. Track the number of customers who actually order. Replace magazine ads that do not pull with new ones.
- Entrepreneur: How to Find and Work With Suppliers
- Business Know-How: Find Suppliers for Your Business
- Entrepreneur: How to Find a Drop-Shipper
- Web Source: Internet Advertising / Online Advertising / Web Advertising
- Entrepreneur: How to Start a Clothing Store
- Workontheinternet.com: Starting and Running and Online Clothing Store
- IRS.gov: Home Office Deduction
- Tradepub.com: Source for Trade Magazines
- ThomasNet: Source for Manufacturers
- Wholesalecentral.com: Source for Wholesale Suppliers
- 4WholesaleUSA.com: Source for Wholesale Suppliers
- GoDaddy.com: Domain Name Source and Website Host
- IPage: Internet Host Source
- Women Within: Women's Clothing Magazine
- SpectorSoft: Online Traffic Software