We all know that selling online is becoming increasingly popular. An estimated 1.66 billion users made an online purchase in 2017. Data shows that worldwide e-commerce sales will reach €/$4.5 trillion in 2021. Most brands have their own online store today, complementing their brick-and-mortar stores. The traditional way to sell clothes is to work with retailers, distributors or agents. Retailers have their specific location and established customer base, and they sell the products for you as well as handle returns. But they also take a big slice of the pie, usually around half of the product price.
Selling online has several advantages:
Customers can shop 24/7, when and from wherever they want. There’s no need to go to a physical store. More and more purchases are made from mobile devices.
Customers can read up about the brand concept, the clothes, and check reviews.
You can interact more easily with your customers without an intermediary between you.
You can increase your margins or make higher-quality garments for a lower end-customer price. You don’t have to pay the retailers.
You can market-test products more efficiently, thus optimizing your collection.
What’s the catch?
If selling online is so great, why isn’t everyone doing it, ditching the retailers? Well, because the fact you have an awesome e-commerce site doesn’t automatically mean you’ll sell. Since you don’t have the retailers to do it, YOU have to sell your products.
You’ll need to put in a lot of effort to ensure customers find your e-commerce site and buy your awesome products. Most e-commerce businesses pour money into online advertising such as Facebook Ads and Google AdWords. These calculate the advertising costs for each order placed on their site. The fact that you only sell online doesn’t mean it won’t cost you anything. There are millions of sites out there, and you need to put in the work to let your customers know you exist.
Also, you’ll have to handle all the orders yourself, or hire someone to do it for you. How many products do you have to sell to make a profit? Well, you have to pack and send all those orders. The customer service and handling of returns will also fall to you.
How will customers find you?
There are three ways your customers can find you:
1. Brand recognition
The first is through brand recognition. Customers already know about your brand and find you directly online, by searching for your brand. They ask for, look for, or are told about your e-commerce store. This obviously requires significant marketing work from your side.
The second way is through search engine optimization. People search online for topics related to your business and find you that way. If you’re really good at SEO, the customer will see your page at the top of search results without you paying for it.
3. Paid advertising
The third way to get noticed is through paid advertising. Use Facebook Ads or Google AdWords, for example, and create an ad to be shown along related search results. The ad links to your site and you pay every time someone clicks on your ad. It’s not hard to understand why Google is doing so great.
Running an e-commerce site is a great way to get closer to your customers and increase your margins. But don’t underestimate the effort needed to run it and drive traffic to it. The fact you have an online store doesn’t mean customers will find it. There are no “rules,” and testing different things to see what works best is vital. The most important thing for your website is to keep the customer there as long as possible, to entertain and draw them into your fantastic world.
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33 Steps to Build a Great Online Store
Thinking through these 33 points will dramatically increase your chances of securing returning, happy, buying customers.
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