In addition to toilet paper shortages and addiction to newfangled streaming services, the pandemic has also spawned a number of more positive trends, such as a huge boom in new startups that have given people from all walks of life an excuse to chase. their entrepreneurial dreams.
If you are one of those people who have started in the clothing business in the last few years and now you want to take your passion project to the next level, then you can try to find the best way. to move your business online.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through a 7-step strategy to get your business online, with actionable steps to help you shape your own vision roadmap.
Step 1: Buy a domain name
The first step in starting any business online is finding a good domain name. You’ll be happy to know that we make it easy to get started here, and domain registrars like GoDaddy can be used to purchase a .com domain name for as little as $22 and ownership lasts for two years. Alternatively, your chosen e-commerce platform can register a free domain name for your online store.
While this is a relatively quick and easy process, it’s important to note that this one detail can have a big impact on future online branding. When you sit down to choose your domain name, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Use your brand name or a close variant.
- Always buy a .com domain name whenever possible, as this is the most popular and trusted domain extension.
- Avoid numbers and hyphens to maintain a professional, memorable and recognizable domain name.
- Even if a domain name is available on the domain registrar’s website, there is a chance that it may contain trademark terms. Be sure to research your domain name thoroughly before you buy it, as slipping it can put you in legal trouble later on.
Step 2: Create your website
Now that you have a domain name, the next step is to build a good website.
Since you’re looking to sell products online, you’ll want to build your website with an e-commerce platform designed specifically for this purpose. There are a wide variety of e-commerce platforms on the market, so you’ll want to choose one that fits the specific needs of your business. For example, Shift4Shop is an affordable and affordable option that comes with a long list of built-in features that would be a suitable solution for a startup that needs a complete website without coding.
If your business is fairly small, the structure of your website may seem like a pretty cut and dry issue. However, as your business grows, you will find it progressively more difficult to structure your website in a logical, user-friendly way.
To set your store up for success now and in the future, consider a few fundamental ecommerce design conventions.
- Minimize the steps from your homepage to checkout for a simple conversion path that avoids confusion and abandoned carts.
- Display customer reviews and encourage public product reviews.
- Make your customer service easily accessible so you can quickly troubleshoot technical issues.
- Use a responsive platform to ensure your site is aesthetically pleasing on all desktops and mobile devices.
By putting your customer at the heart of all your website building decisions and taking cues from your favorite online clothing stores, you can ensure positive experiences and satisfied customers from day one of selling online.
Step 3: Design your website
Now we get to the fun part, designing the aesthetics of your site.
Major e-commerce platforms will offer you a variety of themes when you first set up your account. Your choice here won’t matter much in the long run, but we recommend choosing one that is both simple and professional-looking, as this will facilitate a user-friendly shopping experience.
From there, you can have fun customizing your store to reflect your brand identity. By playing with font, background and navigation design, using images and video content to showcase your best products, and arranging your products in unique and interesting ways, you’ll soon be able to create a store that delights your customers and reflects your unique brand.
While this design phase is your chance to get creative, it’s important to maintain a certain level of consistency across your pages to ensure a positive user experience. It’s good to make your website distinctive and memorable, but remember that your website is first and foremost a functional entity that should be easy to use and navigate for any visitor.
Step 4: Work on SEO
Google is a big place, and while you may have great products and impressive copy, people won’t be able to find your site unless it’s optimized to rank for popular search terms.
SEO is a complex topic that is too broad to cover in detail here. With that said, there are a few key elements to focus on when you first move your clothing business online.
Your first step should be to research the types of terms people use to find businesses like yours, then incorporate these terms logically and naturally into elements of your website, such as page titles, meta descriptions, and body content.
Links pointing to your site are seen as a vote of confidence by Google, and you need to build links to your site in order to appear in those competitive top spots on search engine results pages. As a clothing business, this will include a variety of techniques such as guest posting, developing relationships with fashion influencers, and chasing unrelated mentions. Link building is a pretty tough part of SEO, but luckily there are plenty of agencies like Hive19 that specialize in “natural, topical link earning” based on the nuances of your business.
If a website is going to have any hope of ranking, it must send positive technical signals to the bots or “crawlers” that Google uses to analyze it. This includes things like ensuring your pages load quickly on all devices, building a logical linking structure that’s easy for web crawlers to follow, and creating working redirects for all removed pages.
Hosting high-quality content in various forms such as blog posts, photos, videos and UGC can help build social proof and naturally drive engagement from your target market. This can also feed into your link building, maximizing the chances of other sites linking to your quality, valuable content.
Step 5: Plan your inventory
So you have the beginnings of a brand identity and you have somewhere to sell your products. The next item on your list is to decide which products you are going to sell on your shiny new website.
The most integral part of this stage is the creation of one centralized database where you can make detailed records of all the products you want to sell. This should contain the name of the product, the range it belongs to, its SKU, size and product category. It is also important to keep track of actual logistics data, such as minimum stock quantities, EOQ (economic order quantity), live stock quantities, and reorder times.
If you operate from more than one warehouse, it is extremely important to have fields that help you map your inventory, track which warehouses and distribution centers the warehouse is in, and the various stages of transit.
Planning your inventory is taxing and, let’s be honest, painfully boring, but its importance to your success as an eCommerce entrepreneur cannot be understated.
If the mere mention of inventory planning makes your head hurt, don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be the heavy, manual task you might imagine. Modern inventory management systems like Cin7 Orderhive will allow you to “manage your inventory in real-time across multiple channels,” synchronizing real-world operations with your inventory data and avoiding the errors that manual inventory management can be prone to. Many modern e-commerce platforms also include built-in inventory management tools that can help keep things organized.
Step 6: Iron out the rights
Although online entrepreneurship is now more accessible than ever, there are still a number of legal requirements that you must meet before you can start selling from your website.
Generally, you’ll be able to operate under the same registration you used for your brick-and-mortar store, but if you’re considering moving your business entirely online while working from your own home, you may want to look into: in the home occupation permit, depending on your state and various details about your business.
Other considerations such as EIN registration, DBA licensing and GDPR compliance can all apply to your business, so make sure you don’t leave anything out.
While public resources, such as the Small Business Administration’s Licenses and Permits Guide, exist specifically to help entrepreneurs navigate their legal requirements, these provisions can vary dramatically from one business to another. To keep your operations safe and compliant, you can schedule a consultation with a business law expert who will be able to outline the relevant requirements and answer any questions you may have.
Step 7: Complete your website
While a huge portion of modern commerce happens online, e-commerce stores are still at a disadvantage because they create a barrier between your customers and the living, breathing elements that make up your brick-and-mortar store experience.
To give customers (especially those who have never heard of you before) a good idea of your brand and what it stands for, you need to populate your website with high-quality content on some key pages that will tell your story and help people understand more about you. about the product.
While there is no right or wrong way to structure your content, there are a few common page types that can be useful for displaying key information.
This is a good place for a short and sweet overview of what kind of clothing you specialize in, any USPs (unique selling points) and any notable influencer partnerships or credentials in your corner. Your home page is also a great place for short introductions to the themes or stories behind a new clothing line.
Use this section to show how your brand differs from its closest competitors. Perhaps you have a strict policy on clothing containing microplastics, or you work with independent, local designers to create new and unique styles. An “About Us” page should also contain some history of your brand, as well as information about your staff, brand philosophy and identity.
Transparency is becoming increasingly important in several industries, especially e-commerce. Make sure you’re upfront and honest about your return policy so your customers know where they stand.
Along the same lines, it’s extremely important not to put up barriers when your customers want to reach out to you. Whether it’s through chatbots, email forms or a good old phone number, make sure it’s never too difficult for your website visitors to get in touch and get their queries and issues resolved.
After following these steps, you will have successfully completed all the necessary groundwork to create a functional and user-friendly website for your clothing business.
While growing your business to its full potential will require a lot of further work, research and education, we hope this advice is helpful in getting you started on the right track.