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If you’re wondering how to start an online clothing business, you’re in luck because today we will be explaining how to start an online clothing store in detail.

Just like creating an actual garment, there are certain steps you should follow to ensure a beautiful, functional, and long-lasting online clothing business.

Every online clothing business is unique. Whether you’re interested in starting a clothing boutique that is very high end, finding a creative outlet through fashion, or just learning how to start an online clothing store with no money, this article will give you the necessary steps to build a clothing website with a solid foundation.

Are you ready? Your online clothing business awaits. Let’s break down how to start an online clothing store.

How to Start an Online Clothing Store in 7 Steps

1. Get Inspired and Gather Your Ideas Together
2. Brainstorm Which Products to Sell in Your Online Clothing Boutique
3. Create or Source Your Products
4. Get the Word Out
5. Set Up Your Finances for a Successful Online Business
6. Manage Your Inventory for an Organized Online Business
7. Build an Online Store that is On Brand

Check out this video for how to start an online clothing store:

1. How to Start an Online Clothing Store: Get Inspired and Gather Your Ideas Together

In other words: brainstorm. Whether it’s by yourself or with a group of creative, business-savvy friends, this will help you establish a cohesive foundation from which to develop your booming business venture and launch an online clothing business with a long term future.

Here is a framework of questions to ask when brainstorming:

Fashion audience

If you’re starting an online clothing business, you’ll want to have an idea of exactly who will be buying your clothes. Ask yourself, who is your ideal customer? What will your style represent? Who will it cater to?

Since clothing trends are generally age-specific, there’s a natural inclination to start with a particular age group.

Consider researching high-selling, top-trend items for your target age group. A little time with the right fashion magazines and Pinterest searches can accomplish a lot in this area. Identifying the age of your target customer can be a helpful way to find your niche, but you can take a different approach.

Your style can represent culture or a subculture as you know it. This gives you a huge range to work in- from trendy, modern looks to older, vintage styles. 

Reasoning and business strategy

Ask yourself why you’re starting this online clothing business in the first place. Why do you want to know how to start an online clothing store? Why does it matter to you?

These are important questions to ask before you move forward, so all your time, energy, and financial resources don’t go to waste. Maybe you have a talent for sketching clothes and want to monetize this skill. Or do you have a love for fashion and want to start a little side business?

Keep your answers in mind as you’re starting an online clothing store.

Ask fashion influencers

Ask for your friends’ input during these beginning stages. It’s one thing to look at editorial fashion articles or Google trends, but it’s another to interview individuals about how they tend to interact with an online clothing business.

Are they more likely to purchase from an online clothing business if they can read customer reviews first? How much are they willing to spend on a particular item, given their income level? Does an online clothing store need a solid return policy if they have any chance of getting your friends’ business?

Field research for your online clothing business

Brainstorming and asking around is crucial, but so is research. Now that you’re starting to get a sense of what your online clothing business will look like, take some time to compare and contrast how it will function compared to similar brands.

Collect what data you can about online business practices and the fashion world. Combine it with your brainstormed ideas and feedback from your peers.

You now have a developed vision and clear blueprint for starting an online clothing store.

2. How to Start an Online Clothing Store: Brainstorm Which Products to Sell in Your Online Clothing Boutique

Next up: focus on the product. When learning how to start an online clothing store, you’ll need to learn the ins and outs of operating in the clothing business in an efficient, straightforward way.

Study different brands of clothing to see what makes them sell. This type of research for your online clothing business can be as simple as looking up fashion icons online or walking around the mall to gain inspiration. Pay close attention to style trends and to the materials used in creating different products.

Here are some tips for choosing products when starting an online clothing store:

It’s not a popularity contest

Clothing is a crowded market, so you need to be unique to stand out. You might find it helpful to look at styles that are popular right now. However, you’ll want to create a more focused niche for your online clothing business.

This might mean sourcing luxurious knitwear or creating hand-embroidered, upcycled garments. Your online clothing business can be popular without being a fast fashion empire.

Focus on your clothing interests

Take what fascinates or inspires you most about clothing and apply it as you start an online clothing business. However, don’t be afraid to take inspiration from other influences as well.

A woman models a "tomato soup" sweater inspired by any warhol. Art and pop culture can help inform your online clothing business

Music, art, humor, and lifestyle can all inform the vision of your online clothing store and help define your brand.

Start off simple

It’s alright if your styles don’t quite have the degree of flair you envision when you’re just getting started. The most important thing right now is getting started. If you want to create your own products, sketch your ideas. You’ll be amazed at the end results you can derive from random sketches.

Choose your fashion focus

Choose whether you want your online clothing business to focus on a specific article of clothing or a range of items. Generally speaking, you will have better luck with more variety.

However, if you are drawn to a particular item and see a niche for it, then consider starting there and expanding your inventory in the long run.

Plan ahead for online clothing boutique success

How can you prevent your online clothing store from failing down the road? It’s a hard thing to think about this early in the process, but important all the same!

Key question: what could potentially happen to cause an upheaval in your online clothing business, and how can you be prepared?

Key tip: style is always changing.

Woman holding a spray painted Burberry handbag. Even big brands need to be unique, so it's important that you plan for your online clothing business to be exceptional.

As you learn how to start an online clothing store, you’ll want to make sure and find ways to stay ahead of the curve. Think of this like a rule of thumb, or even a mantra. Write it down by your workspace, or set a reminder on your phone. Just don’t forget it, because an online clothing business that fails to evolve will inevitably struggle.

When starting an online clothing store, your product inventory will be ever-changing. It will take creativity and innovation, as well as initiative, focus, and professionalism to stay on top. If you’re up for the challenge, your online clothing business can have real longevity.

Ready to take the first step? Start building your new online store today with Selz. Sign up for a free 14-day trial here.

3. How to Start an Online Clothing Store: Create or Source Your Products

There’s a ton of ways to get going after learning how to start an online clothing store, but it generally starts with your products. Now that you have an idea of what you want to sell, it’s time to create or source those items.

What skills do you need to start an online clothing boutique?

If you want to create your products, it’s time to freshen up your skillset. Whether you love knitting, sewing, crocheting, etc., this is a great opportunity to get creative and let your sense of style shine.

Don’t worry if your first pieces aren’t perfect. You’ll need to strengthen these skills and practice is the best way to improve.

This is an excellent way to pass any idle time during the beginning stages of starting your online clothing store. You don’t necessarily have to make everything from scratch, either.

A woman with manicured hands knits. If you like creating accessories and clothes, starting an online clothing business can be rewarding

Consider finding styles you like at vintage and thrift stores and updating them to a more modern aesthetic.

Outsourcing for fashion success

Not looking to hand-make garments? That’s no obstacle to starting your online clothing business. You can look into purchasing products from a drop shipper or consider connecting with a screen-printing company to add your custom designs to t-shirts, hoodies, etc.

If you’re more of a curator than a creator, your online clothing business can carry a variety of different brands. Reach out to brands you feel are most in line with the vision you have for your online clothes boutique and request wholesale price lists.

You may even want to stock accessories, art prints, or jewelry that complements the clothing you have selected.

4. How to Start an Online Clothing Store: Get the Word Out

Begin this next phase by asking yourself, “What attracts customers to my site?” If you want to know how to start an online store, this understanding is vital to your success. In literature, there is a term known as a hook, referring to the opening sentence of a publication that immediately draws the reader into the story.

So what will grab the attention of your customers? What is your particular hook? Let’s cover the best ways to grab buyers’ attention.

Social media

Social media has become a huge component of marketing and you can definitely use it to get more eyes on your online clothing business.

Fashion on Instagram

Instagram is an excellent platform to start promoting your online clothing store. Because Instagram is photo-based, it provides a way to easily display the products of your online clothing business.

If there’s a new style you want people to see, post a picture on Instagram. Whether you model the styles yourself or have friends who model for you, this is an excellent way to advertise the plethora of styles you have to offer. Show the products in different contexts. Use Instagram stories to feature happy customers wearing your products.

With social media, the best approach is to test out different platforms and find where your target audience is most engaged. Instagram is the best place to start investing time and effort for your online clothing business.

Showcase your personal style on social media

Tumblr is also a great option if you would like more of a blog format to advertise your products. Don’t forget about platforms like Snapchat and Pinterest

While Facebook may not be as essentially visual as some other platforms, it’s becoming increasingly commerce-friendly. It’s also the single most popular social media platform.

A person holds their iphone in times square, with the instgram app open. instagram is a fantastic tool for any online clothing business

Facebook can be intimidating for businesses, but Selz makes it streamlined and accessible. Selz merchants can easily manage their business, chat with customers, and even create and run ads with the Selz Facebook integration.

Vlogging

Vlogging is another visual method to advertise your online clothing store. This gives you the opportunity to connect with your customers more personally and in-depth. Talk about the materials you use, show off certain outfits and product combinations, and get your followers excited for new products.

Hashtags to draw your fashion audience

Make a catchy hashtag for your online clothing business. This will make it easier for potential customers to find your content, and help to organize your content, and spread the word that you are starting an online clothing store.

Twitter and Instagram are particularly well-suited to vlogging with hashtags. However, YouTube is bar-none the most popular platform for video content.

Consider starting a YouTube vlog about fashion, or focus your channel on a theme that your niche will connect with.

Paid advertising

Google AdWords and Facebook Advertising are both helpful ways to reach potential customers who would otherwise be unlikely to find your online clothing business. There are many ways that you can target each of these tools, so spend time figuring out your audience and ideal customer as you craft your message.

Google Adwords is a direct way to advertise to customers when they’re already in the buying process. Search advertising allows you to get in front of someone as they’re specifically searching for a product like yours.

We’ve already talked about how Selz merchants can use Facebook to run ads, but it’s worth pointing out the integration also takes advantage of the Facebook Pixel to better target your audience. This means that Facebook lets you boost posts for your online clothing business that you think could have a particularly strong impact.

This can be a great way to get the word out about local events and sales if you want to take your online clothing business offline and to a physical location.

Content marketing

Content marketing is a great way to drive traffic to your store without spending a dime. Your Selz store can easily integrate with existing blogs on sites like WordPress, or you can choose to host a blog section within your store itself.

Regardless, strong content builds a connection with your audience. You can help shape the brand identity and narrative of your online clothing business by sharing outfits, sourcing information, or even showcasing what your day looks like.

Consider including an eBook of fashion tips, how-to videos, advice on working with certain materials, and anything else you think your customers will find valuable and engaging.

Read: How to Add an Online Clothes Store to Your Fashion Blog
A woman models striped pants in a fashion photo. Photo styling is huge part of successful marketing for your online clothing business.

Email marketing

With a little work, email can become an incredibly valuable part of your marketing platform. From sending out coupons and special offers to announcing the launch of new products, email is one of the easiest ways to connect with interested customers.

Abandoned cart emails are a particularly useful tool. According to the Baymard Institute, nearly 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned before checkout- so one simple email reminder can be a huge resource for regaining the interest of those customers.

You will need to build up your email list over time, so consider different ways to gather this information.

Never stop learning

Read articles and books on marketing strategies. Research online resources constantly. Consult business colleagues for advice. If you have someone who is in the fashion industry, ask for their input in your online clothing business.

Looking for a more in-depth guide into marketing your new online clothing store? Check out this Founder’s Guide to Promoting your Online Store.

5. How to Start an Online Clothing Store: Set up your Finances for a Successful Online Clothing Business

It’s time to budget. Learning how to responsibly gauge a sustainable income off your talent is tricky, but it is a rewarding and valuable skill to have for future endeavors.

One of the many benefits of starting an online clothing store is learning business-savvy skills that are applicable across a range of industries. So, let’s make a budget plan for your online clothing business

Determine inventory minimums

You probably don’t want to stuff your apartment with hundreds of t-shirts before you have sold a single one. The key to launching a successful online clothing business is having just enough inventory to meet anticipated consumer demand. From there, you can re-order, produce more, or change up your offerings.

Do further research

How much will you need to spend on sourcing materials? If you’re making or altering clothes, how much time will that take per garment? With this in mind, what will the prices on your store eventually look like?

In other words: are you earning an incentive? It’s important that your online clothing business becomes revenue positive as quickly as possible so that you can make a profit.

Because this is an online clothing business, you’ll also need to factor in shipping fees and any other related incidentals.

Quantity over quality (at first)

When the business is first starting out, sell in small quantities to get an idea of where your profit leads you. You’ll want to gain early insight into the growth of the company.

In the beginning, it can be tempting to source the most expensive blank t-shirts to print on or make the largest enamel pins that will stand out. However, it’s important to stay lean at this phase.

Eventually, as you become profitable, you can spring for higher cost materials and more time-intensive projects.

6. How to Start an Online Clothing Store: Manage Your Inventory for an Organized Online Clothing Business

Inventory is an essential component of your online clothing business’s success. Understocked, and frustrated customers won’t be able to get what they want. Overstocked, and your financial resources are strapped. Have a responsible person (such as yourself) handle inventory!

Trends matter

Keep tabs on popular items and make sure you have plenty in stock. You’ll want to check back regularly to prevent items from dipping too low, so think about systems you can put in place to track sales.

Luckily, you don’t need to keep all of this in a ledger (unless you want to). Having an online clothing business instead of a physical boutique means that software can save you time. Selz makes it easy to set and adjust the inventory of your products.

A woman chooses from hundreds of well organized yarns. Good organization is the key to a successful online clothing store.

This way, when a product sells, it will automatically update the inventory count for that product. However, it’s up to a responsible person (again, like yourself!) to update this inventory count when getting more products to sell.

From a statistical standpoint, keeping an eye on inventory has serious benefits. It allows you to identify what types of products sell best, while you may have others that don’t sell well at all. You may even notice that certain items sell more at certain times.

This can look like cozy sweaters moving faster as the weather dips. However, you may also notice that a trendy dress moves faster on the weekend after most of your customers get paid on Fridays.

Use data to determine your clothing inventory

These insights can help you map out the future of your inventory by identifying which product offerings you want to expand, and which you want to cut back.

When your online clothing business takes off, having an efficiently organized inventory is incredibly helpful, especially during periods where there is a large product demand, like the holidays or during an extravagant sale.

7. How to Start an Online Clothing Store: Build an Online Store that is On Brand

As I mentioned before, the toughest part for many entrepreneurs learning how to start an online clothing store is creating an online clothing website that stands out from the competition.

Even the most beautiful products will fail to convert customers if they are sold through a lackluster, poorly designed store. Think of it like this: your products are only as good as their online presence.

A well laid out clothing boutique. Like a brick and mortar, your onine clothing business will benefit from strategic organization and decorating

You want everything about your store to be visually appealing and easy for the customer to navigate. Your online clothing business should be stylish, easy-to-use, and project an air of trustworthiness to customers.

From a secure checkout to well-organized product categories, there are many details to keep in mind to achieve the online clothing business you want.

It can be a little overwhelming, but let’s break down what you need:

Secure checkout

The idea behind this is simple. If you want your website traffic to actually buy something from your online clothing business, you need their trust. Selz online stores are totally secure, meaning that, not only the checkout page but every single page, is secure.

This is a standard best practice for all businesses, but it’s also an important first step towards building a strong connection with your customers.

Professional and stylish online store

Look for an online store builder that not only has pre-designed themes, but gives you full control of customization. You’ll want to be consistent about your brand imagery, from text to colors to photos.

Customization lets you take a design template and tailor to your specific needs. The Selz website builder takes this a step further, by allowing you to manually drag and drop theme elements, so you can rearrange a page’s appearance to your precise preferences.

The best part? There’s no need to hire a professional developer or designer to get your store up and running. The process is intuitive and effective, with 24/7 customer support to bring your online clothing business to life.

Online flexibility

With Selz, you can build the online clothing store you want, but that doesn’t need to be the only way that your online clothing business functions.

Selz also lets you utilize embeds and widgets to sell your products on WordPress, independently hosted sites, and social. This enables you to sell from every corner of the internet.

Final points to keep in mind when selling clothes online:

  • One of the biggest stresses for customers shopping for clothes online is uncertainty ordering the right size. Use a creative method in which customers can determine accurate size descriptions- whether via a detailed sizing chart tailored to your store, or even a tool in which they can virtually try on clothes.
  • Make sure to include high-quality images of the clothes you are selling. You can either work with a freelance photographer or take these yourself with a little product photography research and practice.
  • While short, catchy copy always converts, your customers will want more details about something that will be touching their skin all day. From fit to fabric, explain what makes each of the products unique. These types of details will help increase buyer confidence, and ultimately mean fewer returns and exchanges for your online clothing business.

Now that we’ve laid out the steps to starting and running a successful clothing business, you’re ready to get started. Remember, fashion is supposed to be fun. The challenges you’ll face in your online clothing business are natural. Take them in stride, stay flexible, and stay true to your style.

About the author

John-Justice Hill

John-Justice has always enjoyed writing creative and imaginative stories. When he is suffering from a particularly nasty bout of writer's block, he finds solace in the company of his lovely and adventurous wife. His other hobbies include watching and discussing films and shows, reading 1200 page fantasy novels, and stuffing his face with pizza.

50 comments

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    1. Jana Rumberger

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  3. Frances Sugar

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  4. Camille - Paisley Grace Boutique

    Fantastic article and great tips to getting started in the online clothing industry. You’ve done your research so others can benefit. Nicely done!

    1. Tara Storozynsky

      Hi Camille, thanks for reading FounderU and commenting! We wish you great success with your online clothing store.

  5. Harish Kumar

    Amazing, that is very detailed. Shopify is the best platform for eCommerce. But a problem arises when we need adjustment or customization. Thanks for the great tutorial on this topic

    1. Tara Storozynsky

      Hi Harish, thanks for your comment! We feel like that difficulty in customization one reason that some businesses may benefit from using a different Ecommerce platform, such as Selz.

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    1. Bryce Patterson

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  7. Tjori

    Nice tips for startup clothes store. Thanks

    1. Bryce Patterson

      Great to hear you found this post helpful! Thanks for checking us out and commenting!

  8. Vikky Nix

    Hi, John. Thanks for the Tips.

    Vlogging seems like a great strategy for apparel stores. Video gives people an opportunity to hear straight from people. Kind of a personalised channel, where the veracity can be distinguishable factor.
    Pls correct me if I am wrong.

    1. Bryce Patterson

      Hey Vikky, great point about vlogging! The visual nature of the medium is really great when you are showing off outfits, new styles, etc. Thanks for checking us out and commenting!

  9. Daniel Jonsson

    So much tips and ideas I got from this blog! Thanks for the fashion trends ideas :)

    1. Bryce Patterson

      Hi, Daniel- great to hear you found this post helpful! Thanks for checking us out and commenting.

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    1. Bryce Patterson

      Thanks for your kind words! If you are looking to start your own blog, WordPress is a very popular option. If you are wanting to create a blog where you can also sell products from your site, you can sign up for Selz and build your web-store today! We’ve got some great themes you can choose from and our drag and drop editor is easy to use. Good luck!

  13. Lavonna

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  15. Games Lover

    I love finding new blogs! My own personal style blog is also for those who can’t afford fancy designer clothing like myself.

    1. Kristen DeCosta

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting, glad you found this blog helpful!

  16. Pradum pal

    Helpful blog .
    i want to start my own online shopping business for clothes, is this compulsory to set offline store?

    1. Kristen DeCosta

      Hi Pradum, so happy you found this helpful! Choosing to go offline or online is a personal choice! We see lots of success with people opening a physical store then using Selz to also have an online option for shoppers as well.

      Let us know if there is something else we can help you with as you get started!

  17. Michael Ziehfreund

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  18. Shafaqat

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    1. Hanna Whirty

      Thank you for the feedback, we appreciate it!

  19. YourRetailCoach

    In 5 easy steps you can open clothes store like
    • Sell clothes from blog post
    • Add clothing to sell
    • Install the app
    • Customize the store
    • Advertise on social media

  20. Aydin

    Hey! Really detailed post..

    I actually was going to sign up with shopify to sell Physical products but just discovered your site.

    I have few questions before i sign up with you :

    – How do i accept payment and get paid?

    -Do we use your payment system and your paypal to receive payments. How and when do we get after a sale is done?

    – If we use your store option, do we have tab options where customers can enter shipping details after they add the product to shopping cart? If yes where do these approved orders appear for us to see?

    Thanks

    1. Kristen DeCosta

      Hi Aydin! I am so glad you found this post helpful. I’m glad you have found Selz, it sounds like we could be a great option for you! Please email our customer success team at [email protected] with these questions. They will be able to provide much more detailed and helpful answers there and can even set you up with one of our Selz Experts to help you get set up! Hope that helps :)

  21. Celenor Gomez

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    1. Kristen DeCosta

      Thank you for your comment, Celenor! I am so glad you found this helpful. :)

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  23. Mary

    I have a question do you need any permits in order to sell online?

    1. Kristen

      Hi Mary, thanks for your note! We always recommend talking with your local tax office to ensure that you’re set up correctly to sell. Even if you’re selling online, you may have requirements based on your location for federal and local tax purposes.

  24. Alison

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  25. Elvynd

    Great post and nice tips! We’ve some pyhsical concept stores running in the SEA region and only have just begun introducing our brands online via our website @ http://www.qlothe.com.

    We’re thinking of going the e-commerce route and this is definitely something we can think of.

    Thanks! :)

    1. Kristen

      Hi Elvynd, thanks for stopping by and that you found this post valuable :) Good luck with e-commerce – it can be a valuable sales tool!

  26. Canibuyca

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    1. Melissa

      Glad you found this helpful!

      1. canibuyca

        yeah…its really very helpful for me.

Comments are closed.