How to create your first fashion store
Congratulations - you are about to take the leap and start your own online fashion store. Good for you!
You are ready to make your mark in the fashion world. The only thing that is holding you back, is that it tends to be a bit of a jungle. It seems like getting your fashion store up and running is a long and tedious process.
Here are a few questions you might have at the moment:
- What platform do I choose for my fashion store and why?
- What resources do I need?
- How do I receive payments and arrange shipping?
- Do I need to purchase 3rd party tools in order to be successful?
Well, take a deep breath. It might look like a hassle right now, but don’t worry. We are here to guide you through the landscape of running a fashion store online. We will do so by slicing up the process of starting an online fashion store into bite-size pieces that are easy to understand and implement.
Our goal with this guide is that you should feel less anxious and more excited about your new venture.
What are we waiting for? Let’s go!
First and foremost, we have to ask you a very important question: do you have a complete brand with complete branding?
Branding is the soul of your brand. It’s how you visually communicate to your ideal customers. You attract them through branding and they stay because they like your garments! If your answer is ‘yes, I do have my branding in place’, all you need to do now is to make sure you have all the media assets such as logo variations, fonts, and color codes. If you don’t have your branding as of yet - it’s time to get to work. Before creating an online fashion store, you need to know how you want to be perceived by potential customers.
More specifically, branding is:
- your brand name
- your tagline
- your logo
- your fonts
- your color palette
- your general theme
Where do you start? It’s simple.
Who is your ideal customer?
To create your branding, you need to fully understand your ideal customer. Actually, to run a successful business, in general, is by understanding your ideal customer.
Answer these questions:
- How old are they?
- Where are they based?
- What is their style?
- What are they interested in?
- What appeals to them?
When creating fashion, you already have some kind of person in mind, right? Now, create your branding to appeal to the same kind of person.
By answering the questions above, you can figure out what would visually speak to them. Why would they click on your social profiles or ads? Why would they like your clothes? Why would they purchase from your online fashion store?
You want to sell street clothes that are minimalistic but of high quality. The core pillars of your fashion are sustainability, minimalism, and comfort.
You envision your ideal customers to be socially aware, between 18 and 25, and drawn to simple patterns and objects.
To reflect this in your branding, you can then pick a neutral palette, such as beige, gray, and white shades. These colors communicate minimalism and earthiness.
The same thing goes for your logo and fonts. Keep it simple and easy to understand. Once you have your branding, you can move on to actually building your store.
Pick an ecommerce platform
Before building your online fashion store, you need to choose a platform to build it on.
Choosing the right platform can make or break your brand. The platform you choose is the foundation of your fashion store as it will affect the customer experience and journey. The right platform should be aligned with what you want to achieve - in this case, it is to showcase fashion in the most appealing way possible and make conversions smooth and easy.
No, you don’t necessarily need to learn coding to build a fashion store. Choosing an ecommerce platform that has an easy site-builder will save you tons of time and energy. The whole customer journey is built in - from product page to order confirmation.
There are several popular ecommerce platforms that are easy to use and that will help you have your online fashion store live in minutes. Which one is the right one for you? Here are a few things you should consider when choosing an ecommerce platform:
- What tools do you need - Do you have some tools in mind that are absolutely necessary for your business to run smoothly?
- Storefront design - What should your store-front design look like? Do you want to work with a variation of free templates or do you want to edit the code yourself?
- Search engine optimization - Are you an SEO pro or do you need a platform that automatically assists you and helps you improve your store’s SEO?
- Payment options - Which payment options need to be compatible with your store’s platform?
- Fulfillment process - Do you have an existing fulfillment system or do you need a built-in system to process orders?
Every ecommerce platform has the basics you need to build an online fashion store, but depending on the specific features you need and your own technical skills, some platforms will either be too simple or too advanced for your needs.
How does Stylehub compare to other ecommerce platforms?
Stylehub is an all-in-one platform, specifically designed for online fashion stores. We have picked this niche to really be able to help brands like you thrive in the ecommerce space.
When we say all-in-one, we really mean that we offer everything you as a fashion store needs, and more. We don’t want you to worry about paying extra for necessary plugins. This ends up very expensive for many brands that are just starting out and with Stylehub, you can avoid this issue.
We are certain that your garments are of high quality and completely stunning, but if the customer experience isn’t there, you will lose sales.
What is customer experience based on? First of all - your store-front design. This is one of the first impressions. If the store feels messy and confusing, your visitors are more likely to click out - and we don’t want that.
The customer experience is also about the entire journey. From viewing products to adding to cart, to paying, and so on. For now, let’s focus on the design part.
Using a cheap-looking design template can really hurt your conversion. Most people won’t trust something that looks low quality, right?
You don’t need anything too advanced. You just need to make sure that the store-front design of your fashion store is simple, stylish, and premium-looking. Even if the template is for free!
Most platforms have free templates that are simple but the best-looking ones can cost up to a hundred dollars. Stylehub offers premium-looking templates for free. We want your customers to stay on the site and eventually purchase from you. We know what looks appealing!
Create your media assets
A fashion store is nothing without great product photos. The more photos of each product, the better. Offer your customers to view each product from different angles and from up close. Details are really important when shopping online.
Just like cheap-looking store-front design, low-quality product photos can really damage your conversation rate. Again, you don’t need to conduct the most advanced photoshoot. Just make sure that all your photos are high resolution, with good lighting, and simply attractive.
Another reason to have high-quality photos is to allow the customers to zoom in and take a closer look at the details. If the image is too blurry, the customers will be unsure about their purchase and the chance of them exiting the store without completing their order will be higher.
PRO TIP: If you can offer videos - even better! Show your creations in action and give your customers a chance to visualize themselves actually wearing them.
Connect 3rd party services
Even if you pick a platform that has most of the features you need, there are a few things you need to research and fully understand.
Two very important 3rd party services you need in order to run an online fashion store is:
- Payment providers
- Shipping providers
When choosing options for both, it is very important to go back to your ideal client. What payment providers do they know of and trust? Which one are the most comfortable using?
Here are a few popular payment providers that are compatible with most ecommerce platforms:
Stripe is a very popular payment method that you surely have heard of before. Stripe doesn’t add any hidden costs, which is why it’s widely used and most people are familiar with it.
Available in over forty countries, customers can choose different ways to pay via Stripe, such as with credit/debit cards, Google Py, Apple Pay and so on.
Paypal Check out
PayPal is perhaps the most known option available on most online stores and other websites. PayPal is quick, easy, and secure. You can even pick the PayPal payment option without having a PayPal account. This makes the payment process easy and hassle-free for customers of all ages and technical skills.
PayPal is also compatible with most countries in the world, which helps if you are planning to sell worldwide.
An increasingly popular payment alternative is Klarna and other payment providers that allow customers to pay in installments or at a later date. Maybe you have heard of offers sounding something like this: ‘buy now, pay later’.
This is a great option for those eager to purchase, especially when scarcity is involved, but don’t have the money at that particular moment. They can still make their purchase and choose to pay at a time that is more convenient to them.
When you have looked into payment providers and chosen your options, you’ll want to look into shipping options. Here, you have to think about it in a similar way. Which companies are your customers used to and who do they trust? Which delivery company is known locally, if your target audience is in a specific area.
Except for local shipping providers, such as Royal Mail in the UK, it’s important to offer the option of delivery via a few well-known and secure international delivery companies. Some of the internationally known shipping companies are: UPS, DHL, FedEx etc.
You also want to take finance and urgency into account by offering shipping options of different prices and speeds.
Most ecommerce platforms will offer you heaps of plugins and tools to help you sync or create marketing campaigns, such as emails and promotional text messages. However, you may have to pay for some of the premium versions of these plugins to get the most out of them.
Stylehub offers several crucial marketing tools without additional installments or fees. These tools are part of the platform already. Some of these tools include:
- “Free shipping” bars
- Scheduled pricelists
- Coupon codes
- And many more
By having these marketing tools available from the start, you will be able to have a complete online fashion store with all the promotion options needed to increase conversions. No need to spend additional time on research to figure out what plugins you need to install. It’s called all-in-one for a reason!
3rd party integrations
Now if you still want to know what 3rd party integrations are useful, let us go over some of the most crucial ones for a complete online fashion store.
These tools will take your store from a newbie online store to a fully professional one. If you are unsure of what tools you want to add to your store, take a look at some of your favorite online fashion stores and take note of what they seem to use to improve their conversion rate overall.
A few examples of tools that may be useful to your online fashion store:
Believe it or not, but a lot of purchases come through email marketing. Email marketing is basically sending out emails about campaigns, personalized discounts, new collections, and so on, to your email list.
The email list can be built through pop-ups that ask visitors to leave their email. One incentive can be to receive newsletters and updates about new arrivals.
Having an email marketing tool allows you to create email sequences. For example, a welcome email followed by a special limited offer followed by an even better offer. The tool will also help you track how many opens and click-throughs you get.
A lot of people will not buy right away. Not every visitor plans to make a purchase. They might just be curious. Or they may have visited your online fashion store out of true interest, but are not yet convinced. Since it’s completely free, they choose to sign up to receive emails from you, and through these emails, they warm up to your brand and eventually make a purchase.
You have probably heard of Google Analytics before. This is a great tool that can give you an overview of where your store visitors are coming from and what they do on your site and what the conversion rate is based on your daily traffic.
By having this data, you can analyze your audience in order to understand them better and then improve your marketing. When do they visit your online store? Are they coming through social media? Which platforms? Are they on PC or mobile?
Gathering data is one of the key ingredients in a successful marketing strategy. Start gathering data through Google Analytics from day one to stay a step ahead.
What is a heatmap? This is another tool that will help you understand your visitors. Heat maps basically show you where your visitors move around on the site and where they click. That means you will be able to track their journey from opening up the fashion store to their exit.
What draws their attention? Are they clicking on the things you want them to click on? How far down the page do they scroll?
Grab your visitors' attention before they exit with the help of exit pop-ups. Like we mentioned earlier, a lot of people may like your fashion but they need some more convincing. They are not warm enough.
Using an exit pop-up, you can stop them and keep them on the site for a few more seconds while asking them to turn on notifications or opt-in using their email address. That way, you can retarget them, later on, to convince them to make that purchase they weren’t so sure about.
Sync your social media to your online fashion store. A very popular feature product-based brands use is syncing their Instagram feed with their online store. As soon as a new post goes up on their Instagram page - it pops up on the website too. This is a good way to share social proof. Seeing other customers wearing the clothes will increase trust for your brand.
These are just a few 3rd party tools that can elevate your online fashion store.
Other tools include:
- Inventory and barcoding tools
- CRM tools (customer relations management)
- Customer loyalty program tools
- Reviews and feedback tools
- Live chat and customer service
Do you feel overwhelmed? Don’t. Start a few important tools and add more as you go.
Terms and policies
Running an online fashion store is a lot of fun but no business is without its boring, but important parts. Terms and conditions is a section you just have to have in order to gain trust.
Not sure about what you need? Don’t worry, there are plenty of resources out there which state what you should include in your terms and conditions. Two very important points are shipping and return policies. One of the main concerns for online shoppers is whether a garment will fit or not. Since they can’t try it on before purchasing, they might check what the return policy is before buying. If that part feels too unclear, they might decide not to take the risk and refrain from purchasing.
Overall, having these documents available on your online fashion store will increase your conversion rate and build trust and accountability.
Yes, starting an online fashion store is not a small thing. It’s an incredible experience and business opportunity but can look a bit intimidating at first. There seem to be a million steps. But don’t worry - focus on choosing the right platform for your brand and then break down all the things you need to do in small, manageable tasks that you can work on, one by one.
When you take one step at a time, the process will feel a lot easier. Just by making it through this guide, you are one huge step closer to running a successful online fashion store.
Now go and create some magic!