Nowadays, getting a product does not require you going to a physical shop. From the comfort of your home, you can search for and buy almost anything you need online.
For fashion designers, this literally means that you do not necessarily have to have a physical store before you can sell your products. Having an online store can get you the customers and sales you need to push your business forward.
Why Online Retailing?
Online retailing has many advantages that you might not get from a physical store.
- Low cost and low risk: For online retailing, you do not need to pay rent on a physical store and you can start on a very low budget. If your online store doesn’t pay off, you won’t lose so much money.
- 24/7 sales and a wide audience: You can still be selling things from your store even when asleep and unlike a physical store, an online store can be accessed by anyone from any part of the world.
- It’s mobile and trusted: You can literally buy and sell from your mobile phone and since many people are familiar with online shopping they trust it.
- It’s growing and easy to start: You don’t have to worry about going out of style with online retailing because it’s a growing market, just follow a few steps and you have your online store!
How To Start Online Retailing
There are 6 steps to starting a successful online retailing business;
1. Will Your Idea Work? (The Research):
One big mistake many people make is assuming their idea will work, assuming everyone will like their product, this is not true. You need to research the market to see what is trendy before you start your online store.
If you do not do your research you do not know how well you’re going to do.
2. Your Monitisation Plan:
You then need to figure out how you are going to make money from your online store. You can sell your physical products or someone else’s products, you can do drop shipping – being a middle man between stores and customers or you can sell digital and advertising.
3. The 15 Minutes Set Up (The Technical Stuff):
This involves everything that has to do with setting up the store itself;
Firstly, register your domain name (i.e. brand.com) and hosting at once. You can use bluehost or a number of other web hosting providers to set these up.
Secondly, install apps for e-commerce and retailing e.g. WordPress or Shopify on your mobile device. WordPress has feature called Woocommerce where you can sell your products from. For Shopify, you get two weeks free trial and then using it attracts a monthly charge.
Thirdly, find a theme that works for your brand. There are thousands of free themes which are mobile friendly, optimised and take payments to choose from. Themes can be paid or free.
Lastly, customise your theme to suit your specifications. Change images, move stuff around, change font etc. to make your theme look different from others that might have that same theme.
4. Content Is King:
Every online business needs to give value through content.
Consumers love fresh content and interactions. Bringing them some value through advice, free blog posts, free videos, etc can go a log way in attracting customers. You don’t need to wait till you have new products to update your website, you need to have new content at all times.
Your content should be shareable, consistent and connect with your audience in a way that makes them want your products. Sharing content that tell them what they will benefit from using your products and teaching them how to use your products can be very helpful in attracting traffic to your online store.
5. The Easy Transaction:
This deals with how you make money. You can incorporate payment platforms like PayPal into your Shopify or Woocommerce app to make payment easy for your customers.
6. Creating Exposure:
This is the marketing phase of your entire process and it is by far the most important phase.
If your marketing sucks so does your brand.
You can build exposure for your brand by using:
a. Social media (Facebook page, YouTube channel, Instagram profile): build a following for your online store on social media. Check out the social media pages of your competitors and what people are saying about them and try to infuse that into your store.
b. Search Engine Optimisation (Google Ranking): Look up ways you can rate your brand for different terms.
c. Online Coverage: get bloggers to write about your brand, do guest posts about other blogs on your website, get magazines to write articles about your brand.
d. Paid Advertising: Facebook ad campaigns can be used to run ads to a specific demographic and it works on a pay as you click basis, which means that you don’t pay for the ad unless someone clicks on it and visits your website. You can also use YouTube ads, those ads that start at the beginning of YouTube video that you have to watch for a few minutes before your video starts playing.
e. Direct Visitors: Your brand can gain lot of traffic from people that go straight to your website because they like what you do. Using a .com as opposed to a .com.ng tends to attract more traffic and exposure on google search engines.
In building an online retailing business, you can also tap into the power of influencers – YouTubers, bloggers, people with large social following etc by reaching out to them and asking that they do a shout out for you or even wear one of your products.
Online retailing can go a long way in terms of making sales once you know how to do it right.