Like every other e-business, the online clothing business is also highly cluttered. Being me-too does not have the sense to get into the business. There are lots of online clothing businesses. Some of them are purely on e-platform like Myntra and Club Factory. In contrast, there are extensions of existing brands and almost every multi-brand outlet, such as Shoppers Stop, Pantaloons and Trends (ajio), has its online presence.
Whether you want to take your existing clothing business online or start your new online clothing business, you need to follow these essential steps.
1. Selecting Your Niche
It would help if you had your speciality in offerings to make yourself different and, at the same time, relevant to a specific group of people. These are the following areas you need to explore to decide on your differentiator.
A) Culture or subculture: A particular culture or subculture can influence your clothing business. This gives you an identity and a differentiator. There can be a variety of clothing options specific to that particular culture or subculture. Sometimes, a fusion of different cultures can also create a niche for your online clothing business.
B) Occasions: Your speciality can be a particular occasion or similar occasions. In India, we celebrate different festivals, and each region has its clothing style related to that specific festival. India is an extraordinary place where all of us celebrate each of these festivals. Due to the universal reach of an online business, you can cater to this audience across India and practically worldwide.
C) Customisation: Standardisation helps cut down the cost of manufacturing, but, at the same time, customisation has more value attached in customers’ eyes. Everyone has different requirements and choices. All of us want to be different. All of us want to create our own fashion. Your customised offering online can help you create valuable differentiators. So, you are a platform where people can create their own style of clothes. It can be based on fashion, colour, stitch, pictures, designs, etc.
D) Age and size: In clothing, age is the biggest deciding factor to target a specific segment. No doubt, some existing players have differentiated their offerings based on age and size, but you may club this with any other differentiators. This can make a blend of speciality, giving you a more defined niche—for example, a customised clothing line for a particular age group or a specific size.
E) Usage: Clothing for each activity, time, and place is different. You may not wear something on the track that you wear in marriage or may not wear while driving or sleeping. What place, time, and activity you do have a specific clothing business associated with it. You may choose to be specific and make it your core offering.
F) Origin: Source of your procurement can also be one of the parameters to make your offering unique. Some places have their speciality, which is very well known and has value in customers’ eyes. It can also sometimes work as a mark of quality and originality. Geographically, India has a specific cluster for one particular type of style, design, or material. Associating yourself with the origin can help you build trust and authenticity in the market.
G) Profession and occupation: Different professions have their category codes defined. You may choose to be a leading player in the untapped segment by selecting one or more professions or occupations. You need to understand the need for that segment and design your offering accordingly. This can be a very niche market, but it pays you off in the long run.
H) Corporates and institutions: Instead of retailing online, you may choose to go for B2B. Corporates and institutions have specific requirements for their employees or staff; it can be for regular use or promotion and events. B2B offers you an opportunity to deal in bulk and volumes. This can help you build your segment-specific identity.
I) Selected fabric: Dealing with a specific type of fabric sourced from different places and different quality and varieties can also be your chosen segment. This can make you one place destination for all varieties of the particular fabric. This can work as online retail as well as online wholesale. Your online clothing business can become the synonym of that particular fabric.
J) Selected garment type: As a one-stop destination for a particular fabric, a one-stop destination for a specific garment like only top or shifts, only pants or bottom, only jackets, only sportswear, only nightwear, etc. This will also build an impression in online buyers that you are a super-specialist and authentic player of this garment. Go Colors is one of the best examples of this type of niche.
K) Pet clothing: Nowadays, the market for pet parlour and pet spa and pet salon is growing. It is also a sizeable segment. You can choose to be an online clothing destination for pet owners. This can be one of the niches where you can create your brand.
L) Clothing line supporting a noble cause: You can build your differentiator as a representative of a particular cause. Your cause can be supporting the environment, promoting conservation of a tradition, supporting blinds, underprivileged kids, or girls education. By contributing a percentage of your profit, you can make yourself relevant and appealing to people concerned with that cause. People Tree and Being Human are some of the examples of such a business.
M) Ideology: Your brand can be supporting the ideology of great leaders of the world like Mahatma Gandhi. Your online clothing business can promote a specific ideology by keeping your style, design, and material relevant to that ideology.
N) Cinema, TV, and celebrity influence: Your clothing line can be based on style, design, and materially influenced by current movies, TV series, or celebrities. This has a great impact on Indian buyers. Though it’s short-lived trends, it can make you relevant and appealing to the large fan following.
2. Deciding on Making or Trading
You need to decide what you will make by yourself or customise what product or part of the product you will do trading. If you choose to make or customise your product, you may focus on your own brand. Whereas, if you choose to trade, you can deal with multiple vendors and products.
3. Selecting the Channel
An Online clothing business offers you multiple channels to decide whether you want to sell your offerings through some virtual marketplaces like Amazon, Flipkart, and ajio, or through your own channel like your web portal. In the case of a virtual marketplace, the marketplace managers take care of logistics, billing, and payment. It will help if you share your revenue with them.
In the case of your own channel, you need to first start with your web platform. You will also look after logistics, billing, and payments. Unlike virtual marketplaces, you are responsible for fetching traffic to your web platform through social media promotions.
4. Sourcing Plans
Once the niche is decided, you start planning for sourcing options. Exploring multiple options from different places may give more variety and reliability. It also mitigates your risk and ensures the continuous flow of sourcing. You need first to study and do good research on the sourcing. This also means if you are going to do the trading or adding value to the product.
Depending on the selected niche, you need to make strategic decisions, such as deciding your differentiator. Which thing you will keep with you and which one you will get done by another partner. For each channel, you have different sourcing plans. Initially, you make yourself available and visible on your channel. Going ahead, you need to do the replenishment of the stock as per the demand.
5. Order Fulfilment, Brand Promotion, and Customer Retention
Once the channel is decided and the sourcing plan is ready, you start order fulfilment. It would help if you kept yourself relevant to the customer by doing brand promotion and SEO and social media optimisation strategy. You also look after repeat purchases and loyalty bonuses.
6. Return and Replenishment Policy
As a part of customer retention and building trust in customers, you also need to look after their return policy and process. To avoid opportunity loss and out of stock situations, you keep making your replenishment very active. This makes the entire supply chain complete for an online clothing business.
One needs to follow these steps to start an online clothing business in India. Obviously, online business demands you to have the excellent technological know-how. At the same time, technology is not everything. IT support services are available to build modules for your online business like web portal, payment and refund system, order processing and tracking system, inventory management system, auto-replenishment system, etc. You may choose to outsource these services for your online clothing business. What you need is just an entrepreneurial spirit.
1) 13 Best & Affordable Places to Advertise Your Small Business
2) How Does the Franchise Model Work?
3) How To Start Your Own Franchise?
4) How does a New Business Help To Generate Employment?
5) How To Register the Domain For Your Website?