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How to Start an eCommerce Clothing Store

by David Nelson, studioD

One of the greatest advantages of starting an eCommerce clothing store is that you don't have to worry about restrictions that arise from having a traditional local retail store, such as running into a limited consumer base or paying excessive overhead costs. Instead, you will be able to sell your clothes to anyone in the world and watch your profits instantly accumulate. To get your eCommerce clothing business off the ground, you will need to do plenty of market and legal research, develop a realistic business plan and develop an attractive website.


Perform market research by looking at other online clothing stores that you believe will be your competition. For example, if you are interested in starting an eCommerce biking gear store, you will want to look at similar websites. Pay attention to the website design, what they charge for items similar to those you might be carrying and what kind of copy they have. Use a site such as Alexa to find out how many hits similar websites receive. Your goal should be to learn where your consumer base is and what your niche should be.


Business planning is where you decide what kind of clothes you're going to sell, what kinds of prices you should offer and how much you plan on spending on necessities such as web hosting, packaging and labor, if required. If you have been making your own clothing, you will want to figure out how much you spend on supplies and materials as well as the amount of time you spend creating the clothes since you will want to reimburse yourself for your labor. Salespeople who sell clothes on consignment will sell clothes designed and made by others and will keep a percentage of the profit. Planning is a good time to determine what percentage of profits you will take on consignment sales, how you'll choose which consignment clothes to sell, and how long you'll sell consignment items before taking them off your site.


Since your website will be your store, technology should be a primary concern. Market research should give you a good idea as to which kinds of designs and point of sale formats are being used by successful clothing eCommerce stores. The web host you use should have other retail clients. If you are not proficient in web design yourself, you might benefit from hiring a part-time web designer who can help you to have pages that are easy to browse and pleasant for shoppers to look at. Most websites require continual updates and problem solving, so make sure you have some IT support, either through the web host, a third-party contractor, or friend or associate.


Become familiar with sales tax laws in your state; this way you know if you must collect tax. In most cases, if your eCommerce clothing store does not have a physical site, you will not be required to collect sales tax. Tax laws do vary state by state, though, so you should familiarize yourself with tax laws in your state. Since you'll be selling your clothes online, you also will need to consider international laws regarding duty, customs and consumer protection. Using a source such as the U.S. Small Business Administration can help you to stay on top of relevant laws.

About the Author

David Nelson has written about business, management and career guidance for companies such as Conjecture Corporation and Valley Direct Media and has worked in management and as a college level writing tutor. He has a Masters degree in writing from the New School Writing Program in New York City.

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