How to Start an Fashion Ecommerce Business
As with any ecommerce site, starting an online clothing business takes lots of planning and perseverance. The fashion industry is one brimming with competition – so to build a successful business, you’ll need to set yourself apart from your rivals.
In this guide, we’ve put together some top online clothing business tips to help inspire you in your search for ecommerce success.
In this fashion ecommerce guide:
- What does the online fashion industry look like?
- Online vs offline retailing
- Top tips for a successful online clothing business
- Frequently asked questions
What does the online fashion industry look like?
Success in the world of fashion ecommerce can be elusive. Competition is fierce and the bottom line is often defined by the appearance, usability, and mobility of your website. According to Statista, up to 40% of users abandon an online fashion order at some point, whereas other industries experience abandonment percentages as low as 2%.
That aside, online fashion is an ecommerce behemoth. The industry is predicted to be worth over $1 trillion by 2025.
With such vast financial worth available, it’s important for an ecommerce clothing business to get its strategy right. Grabbing more market share than your competitors requires a comprehensive ecommerce plan – from website experience and product choice, to marketing efforts and delivery packaging.
Online vs offline retailing in fashion
Any hopeful fashion brand will be faced with the choice of online or offline retailing. Of course, many brands opt for a combination of the two – especially when a brand owns physical warehouse and shop floor space.
Today, customers expect some online facing shopping option. Indeed, 67 percent of Millennials and 56 percent of Gen-Xers favor shopping online to browsing in a physical outlet.
Check out some of the differences between online retail and offline retail.
- A physical store encourages customers to immerse themselves in your brand, meet your employees, and establish relationships.
- Customers can see, feel, and experience your products for themselves. You may be less likely to get return requests when customers can see a product beforehand – for example, trying on an outfit in a clothing store.
- You can engage customers in an experience at a physical store. For example, personal shoppers, style advice, or tailoring services can all help to foster brand loyalty.
- With no physical store to maintain and associated overheads to pay, more of your revenue can be for profit.
- You can sell to customers anytime, anywhere. You’ll open your business to a much wider target market – it’s only restricted by how far afield you can deliver.
- Customers can order at the click of a button – but won’t get to see the product in person before they buy, increasing the chances of them returning it.
Top tips for a successful online clothing business.
Here are some top tips to help you stand out from the crowd and turn your ecommerce clothing business into a money-making machine.
1. Plan your proposal.
A business without a plan is likely to fail. Think about what success looks like for your business. Profits? Sure. But perhaps you also want to increase brand awareness, become successful in a specific target market, or get your designs into other stores.
Decide what success for your business is and plan how to get there. You’ll want to break your proposal up into stages – multiple goals and checkpoints for the first few years and then several larger aims for later dates.
2. Pick your niche.
The clothing industry is saturated with sellers and resellers offering fashion of all kinds. To be more than just another business jostling for position, you need to set yourself out from the crowd. Choose a niche and focus your efforts on that area. Maybe you want to target young, streetwear fans, or perhaps your clothing is aimed at the business lunch crowd.
Decide who your clothing fits and build out an idea of what your target audience looks like.
3. Give your regular customers love.
According to the Harvard Business Review, it can cost around five percent more to acquire new customers than to keep existing ones. Your customer retention strategy should include loyalty programs such as discounts for frequent customers. They will be far less likely to browse your competitors’ sites when they know they can buy from your ecommerce clothing store to get the quality products they’re used to at a more favorable price.
4. Provide customer support.
Nothing frustrates a customer more than poor service. If you make returning items difficult, customers are likely to buy from a competitor the next time around. According to the Wall Street Journal, about a third of all internet transactions are returned. That’s a huge proportion, so if possible, have customer service agents available around-the-clock to field and resolve customer inquiries. Great customer support can significantly shorten the sales cycle and keep your customers coming back for more.
5. Give customers a reason to come back.
Create and execute an email marketing campaign that delivers a new promotion into customer inboxes each week. This will keep your ecommerce clothing store top-of-mind – and personalized promotions can lead to more sales and greater ROI.
6. Use amazing images.
It’s no secret that successful fashion ecommerce requires excellent photography. Most stock images simply don’t cut it anymore. Hire a professional fashion photographer to take high quality photos of your inventory that go beyond the simple product shot to tell your brand story. Your store will outshine your competitors and the ROI will be well worth it.
7. Tell stories.
Rather than just writing plain product descriptions, create vibrant stories that help your customers better imagine owning your product. For example, change “a gorgeous evening gown perfect for any party,” to “picture yourself as the ‘it’ girl at your next extravagant party by wearing this elegant black and white dress that will make you the bell of the ball.”
8. Be easy to find.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is another critical component of a fashion ecommerce strategy. After all, if it’s difficult to find your website in the first place, how do you really expect to make sales?
Work with an SEO consultant to make sure the copy on the page is optimized for every product – in addition to the meta tags that give search engines the information they need to properly index your product pages.
9. Partner with the right businesses.
Smart partnerships are always important when it comes to developing a successful fashion website. Build relationships with key influencers and bloggers who can be invaluable brand ambassadors for your eCommerce site.
Start by reaching out to well-known reviewers who will lend a quote to the quality of your product and develop relationships with industry websites who may allow you to post guest blogs and/or be one of their featured fashion sites.
10. Keep it clean.
It may go without saying but keeping your fashion ecommerce website clean is critical if you want visitors to continue browsing (and hopefully click the “buy now” button). Your user interface has to be impeccable – as does making the overall user experience as simple and interactive as possible.
With so many other options, a buyer who’s ready to pull the trigger may leave for a competitor’s site because viewing product specs is difficult and reviewing checkout information is confusing.
11. Be mobile.
If you’re seeing 25-30% of your customers visiting your site from mobile devices, consider embracing responsive design for your website. They’re far more likely to browse your site on their tablet or smartphone on-the-go, so your fashion ecommerce site needs to be easy to read and interact with on any device.
12. Embody a lifestyle.
The importance of differentiation in the fashion game can’t be overstated. With so much competition and noise online, the most successful brand focus on a niche and spend their budgets marketing themselves as experts in that niche.
For instance, in the example above, focusing on extravagant evening gowns can be more lucrative than simply selling a wide variety of inexpensive dresses.
13. Get pricing right.
After everything you’ve done to get potential customers to purchase a product, the last thing you want to do is lose them because a competitor has a slightly lower price. Perform meticulous research on pricing – and always offer a bonus coupon or future promotion opportunity to give them the confidence to keep typing in that credit card number.
Finally, don’t hesitate to visit our Fashion page for a product tour.
Fashion ecommerce – frequently asked questions.
Why is fashion ecommerce so important?
As with the wider retail industry, fashion is increasingly transitioning towards becoming an online sales prominent sector. Indeed, over 50 percent of young people prefer to shop online for their clothing.
What is fashion ecommerce?
Fashion ecommerce is the buying and selling of clothing online. The industry is traditionally B2C (business-to-consumer) but can cross into other areas like B2B, with the selling of workplace uniforms.
How do I start selling clothes online?
You’ll need to choose an ecommerce platform partner to help establish your online fashion store. An all-in-one ecommerce solution like Adobe Commerce, powered by Magento packs a raft of features into one easy, out-of-the-box answer to your ecommerce needs.