If you find the idea of building your own online clothing store a little daunting, you really shouldn’t!
Online store builders are drag and drop tools that allow anyone to create a beautiful and professional ecommerce site.
The process is simple and intuitive, so even the least technically savvy among us are now able to join the ecommerce retail community and thrive in it.
We’re here to take you step by step through the process of starting an online clothing store so you can be up and running in no time at all!
This guide will tell you all you need to know about getting your clothing store online.
And guess what, you won’t have to empty your pockets to do so!
We’ll cover everything from building and customizing your online storefront (your website) to getting it found on Google and bringing those all-important customers to your store.
If you follow the simple steps below, you’ll be selling clothes online in a matter of hours for a fraction of the price you’d pay for a t-shirt.
“Make sure to choose an online store builder that suits the needs of your store and can grow with you and your business.”
Online store builders let you start selling online for a fraction of the price you’d pay for a pair of shoes.
You’ll need to sign up to an ecommerce plan to connect to payment processors allowing you to take payments from customers when you start selling clothes online.
As well as being easy and economical to use, online store builders will also take care of all the technical stuff so you don’t have to.
You can start selling clothes online in no time without having to worry about security upgrades and hacking risks. Online store builders also give you an SSL certificate.
SSL certificates provide secure, encrypted communications between your website and your customers’ internet browser. This means that all credit card transactions and data transfers are safe and secure.
Having an SSL certificate is like having security tags in all your clothing to prevent shoplifting, except you don’t have to install or maintain them!
Online store builders take care of this for you so your clothing store will be safe from hackers – the internet equivalent of shoplifters, although they’re looking for data not clothes!
But which builder should you choose? With so much choice, it can be difficult to know where to start.
This is where we come in to help you figure out which is best for your needs. Why not get started with this chart that compares our top three ecommerce platforms!
Over the years we have tried and tested many different builders through starting our own businesses. This has helped us to build up some great resources that aspiring entrepreneurs – like you! – might find handy.
We recommend Shopify as the most comprehensive ecommerce solution. They have a wide range of themes and an impressive app store to add more tools to your clothes store.
Shopify and Bigcommerce are great if you’re looking to open a large online clothing store (anything over 50 products), however if you’re thinking of something on the smaller side (under 50 products), Wix, Weebly and Squarespace are good options to consider.
Before we move on, let’s take a look at what Shopify is doing in response to the Covid-19 pandemic:
It’s an uncertain time to be starting or growing any business, but don’t worry – Shopify totally gets that. In fact, it has introduced a bunch of awesome new measures to support small businesses in the coming months. These include:
- Making physical and digital gift cards available on all plans. That way, your customers can support you without buying any physical products right now.
- $200 million available in small business funding (US only). As part of a government partnership, Shopify Capital is offering funding to help small businesses develop at a time when they may be low on cash.
- Extending its free trial to 90 days. Shopify has extended its free trial from 14 days to 90, giving merchants even longer to try the service risk-free.
- Community support and live webinars. Virtual ‘meetups’ with the Shopify community to share wisdom and support.
Big kudos to Shopify for its speedy response, and its commitment to supporting small businesses now and always.
If you’re struggling to settle on an online store builder, the best way forward is to test a couple (or more than a couple) of builders.
Think of it like ordering more than one size of a shirt or blouse and trying them on to see which is the best fit.
But unlike ordering more than one size, you don’t have to pay upfront and wait to get your money back later. Most of the online store builders offer a free trial so you can try before you buy.
When you’re trying them out, think about asking yourself the following questions to help you come to a decision:
Which platform are you most comfortable using?
- Do you find the interface intuitive and simple to use?
- Can you easily add new pages and products?
- What support is available if you get stuck?
Which builder has templates and design features that help you create the clothing store you want?
- Are there a wide variety of templates for you to test out?
- Will the templates showcase my products in a way that I like?
- How much creative freedom does the editor give you to personalize your store?
Ultimately you want a builder that makes it quick and easy for you to set up an online clothing store and get selling!
Choose an online store builder that allows you to showcase your clothes beautifully but helps you to build your store quickly and easily without breaking the bank.
If you’re not sure which ecommerce platform is right for you when building your online store, we’ve put together a short, 4-question quiz that will give you recommendations tailored to your needs.
Ecommerce Comparison chart – we compare five online store builders to help you come to an informed decision about which best suits your needs.
Shopify Review 2017 – where we delve into all things Shopify
Wix Ecommerce Review – an in-depth review of Wix’s ecommerce capabilities
Bigcommerce Review – where you’ll find all you need to know about Bigcommerce
Online store builder premium plans, like most things in life, tend to get better with the more you spend. The more you pay the more storage and templates you’ll have access to.
When we say storage we’re not talking physical storage like a warehouse, we’re talking data storage. The more storage you have, the more images, videos and other media you can host on your website.
Extra storage is useful for expanding your product range, increasing the number of angles customers can see products from or adding product videos.
When you’re able to host more products and show them of in more of a range of ways (angles and videos) your sales will increase and boost your bottom line!
With access to more templates, you’ll be able to pick one that really suits the tone, style and character of your online clothing brand. It’s like finding a pair of jeans that fit perfectly – worth paying a bit extra for!
With a paid plan, you’re also able to get rid of the builder’s logo and connect a custom domain name to truly give your online store its own, unique personality.
Your store address will no longer be www.theclothingco.mybigcommerce.com, it will be www.theclothingco.com.
A custom domain name makes your online clothing store look more professional and reputable. This, in turn, builds up trust around your brand which will ultimately incentivize sales.
But how do you know which plan is best for you? It’s best to take into consideration what we’ve mentioned above, and also check out the table below.
This table compares the basic and advanced plans of our top ecommerce platforms and some of the most important features you do, or don’t get with each.
Need an explanation for some of the features in our chart? Look no further…
Premium Support – in case you get stuck building your online store, you’ll want to make sure you have the best support available. Shopify, Wix and Bigcommerce all have premium customer support systems, with help available over the phone, live chat or email.
Abandoned Cart Recovery – if your customer makes it all the way through to purchase but doesn’t actually follow through, abandoned cart recovery will email them to prompt them to complete their purchase. Automatically – you don’t have to do anything! This is a great feature for helping to boost your bottom line.
SSL Certificate – This safeguards all the data that travels through your site. Like a security guard of a physical store, this keeps your customers safe. The safer they feel on your site, the more likely they are to part with their hard earned cash!
Guess what, you can try Shopify, Wix and Bigcommerce for free, so you can work out which is best for you before committing to purchase.
Follow the links below to sign up:
Wix Pricing Plans Review – all you need to know about Wix’s pricing plans
Bigcommerce Pricing Plans Review – our expert opinion on Bigcommerce’s pricing plans
Cost of Building a Website 2017 – Our Experience – we share our experiences about how much it costs to build a website
How Much Should a Website Cost? – Definitive Price Guide – a guide as to exactly how much building a website costs
“If you want to add a professional touch to your online clothing store, a custom domain name is the way to go. The more professional your store looks, the more likely people are to buy your clothing range.”
A unique domain name gives your clothing store an identity online. Think of it like the zip code of a brick and mortar store – it identifies where you are and helps people find you easily.
In the URL for this page www.websitebuilderexpert.com/how-to-start-an-online-clothing-store, websitebuilderexpert.com is the domain name.
To purchase a domain name, you can either go directly through your online store builder, or you can purchase your own through well-known domain name registrars such as Domain.com.
Wondering which option is best? Buying a domain name through your online store builder may be easier in the short run, however if you ever leave that builder (e.g. if your online clothing store becomes too large for the one you were using), taking that domain name with you is pretty tricky.
Purchasing it through a third party may take slightly longer in the short term but is much more versatile in the long run.
If you would like more information, take a look at our guide dedicated to domain names.
Choosing a domain name can be tricky if you don’t yet have a company name for your online clothing store. First think of a company name and your domain name will evolve naturally from there.
Try and think of something catchy, not too long or wordy and nothing too similar to an existing major brand. Try and name your company something that reflects your products or the ethos of your brand.
“Choosing a template is the really fun part. It enables you to create the storefront that you dreamed about so you can really hit the ground running with your customer.”
You can create a beautiful and professional online clothing store in seconds thanks to the professionally designed templates available from all the builders, and you don’t need to learn that foreign language of code to do so!
Your template determines the look and feel of your online store, so making the right decision is important. Of course, you can customize your template after having chosen it, but your choice does form the basis of your store’s design.
Not sure which template to use? We recommend testing out a few first before making a definitive choice.
“Previewing a template is just like trying on a new outfit. If you don’t like it, or aren’t 100% sure, get changed and start again.”
Try and have your customer in mind when choosing your template. If you’re not sure who your target audience is, ask yourself these questions:
Who are my customers?
- How old are they?
- What do they do in life?
- How much do they earn?
- What kind of lifestyle do they lead?
Once you have your customer in mind, choosing your template will be much easier. Put yourself in their shoes, think about what they would want to see from your online clothing store and try to replicate that as much as possible with your template choice.
Although it’s important to focus on your customers, you’ll also want to give your store that personal touch, so don’t lose sight of your vision either.
Choosing a template is a balancing act, you’ve got to juggle the online clothing store you imagined with the one that will best suit your customers’ needs.
Most online store builders have an impressive offering regarding the templates they offer related to clothing and fashion.
Shopify offer 49 templates for clothing & fashion’ stores. While only 5 of these may be free, you have to consider that purchasing a template is a one time investment that you will reap the benefits from for years to come – just like a sturdy pair of boots!
Wix’s offering is just under half of Shopify’s for ‘Fashion & Accessories,’ but only 7 out of their 26 templates are paid.
The fact that they are free, doesn’t mean they compromise on quality, in fact we think Wix’s template range is one of the best. They have more than 500 fully-customizable templates and their designs are always up-to-date with the latest trends.
Bigcommerce offer 33 templates under the heading ‘Fashion and Jewelry,’ only 2 of which are free, but again you have to consider the long-term benefits of a great template.
For example, having an easy navigation so customers can find exactly what they’re looking for quickly so they’ll be much more likely to make a purchase.
Of course, you aren’t limited solely to the templates suggested by online store builders for clothing or fashion specifically. You’re free to choose from any of the hundreds of options they each have.
“Choose the right template to make a great first impression on customers and increase your sales.”
To really personalize your online clothing store, you need to customize your template. Don’t worry, this is super easy to do and doesn’t require you to know how to code at all!
You can customize your template by:
- Adding new pages e.g. product pages (which we’ll go into in more detail in the next step)
- Adding a blog where you can publish news pieces or updates
- Changing the color palette and background image of your template
- Moving, adding and removing different elements on each page
- Changing the color, size and font of different sections of your online store
- Integrating your social media feeds with your store
The online store builders’ interfaces are all very intuitive and easy to use, so there’s no need to feel overwhelmed when customizing your template.
Remember, you’re responsible for designing your online store. This means you won’t face the same design compromises you’d face when hiring a professional designer.
In fact, being able to stay true to your initial vision is one of the main reasons why we fell in love with building our own websites in the first place!
Just like choosing your template, when you’re customizing it, make sure you really think about your target audience. Try and get into their mindset and design your online clothing store accordingly.
When customizing your template, it’s really important to make sure you check out how it looks on mobile and tablet devices too.
Nowadays, more internet searches are performed on mobile devices rather than the traditional desktop
52% of internet traffic comes from mobile devices. So having an online clothing store that looks good on mobile is a must. Most builders make it very simple to preview the look of your store on devices other than a desktop.
Wix has its own mobile editor that allows you not only to see what your store looks like on mobile, but to make changes if you’re not happy with it. Those changes will then only apply to the ‘mobile ready’ version of your site, while the desktop version remains as it was.
You might now be thinking that this all seems too complicated and that it might be easier to just hire a web designer to handle it for you, but unless you’ve got a pretty big budget you may want to reconsider.
Customizing your template is your chance to optimize your store for your customers so you can increase your all-important bottom line!
“Your product pages are the most important part of your online clothing store, after all, this is where you can convert window shoppers into paying customers!”
While your homepage functions as the digital equivalent to your brick and mortar storefront, your product pages are the online version of the shop floor.
And adding products couldn’t be easier. With Shopify, add products by going into the product tab on the left-hand side of the Shopify editor and then by clicking on the blue ‘Add product’ button on the top right hand side.
It’s important to bear in mind your customers when customizing product pages. If you make them too busy then you may give people choice paralysis. If it’s too sparse, customers won’t have any choice at all.
You need to ensure that customers can find what they need quickly and easily. Anything else is bad design!
When thinking about how best to showcase your products, we recommend asking yourself: Who do my customers currently buy from?
Then research these stores by looking at how they show off their products, how they entice customers and how they encourage them to make a purchase.
Things to keep an eye out for when looking at competitors’ product pages include:
- Are their products displayed in grid or list format?
- How many products are displayed per page?
- How are their products grouped?
- Are you able to sort products by price, bestselling, featured?
- Can you filter products by color, material, brand?
Think of it like seeing someone on the street wearing a really great outfit. You’d be inspired and want to try and replicate it, all the while putting your own spin on it, right?
If you want more information about designing your product pages head over to one of these guides:
Ecommerce Product Page Design Part 1 – the first half of our guide to designing a winning product page
Ecommerce Product Page Design Part 2 – the second half!
Or, if you want more builder-specific information, check out these:
“Setting up a payment processor is no harder than the rest of the online store building process, if you’re feeling worried about it, you really don’t need to be!”
In order to start making money selling clothes online, you will need to connect a payment processor to your store. Payment processors are services that allow you to take credit card payments from your customers.
If you’re using Shopify, they have an integrated payment processor called ‘Shopify Payments’ (in conjunction with Stripe) that allows you to manage your payments directly in their user dashboard. This means you can track your money in real-time, and it’s really easy too!
Shopify also supports a number of other payment processors such as PayPal and Amazon Pay.
Both Wix and Bigcommerce also support a wide range of payment options for you to choose from. Setting this up is a simple few clicks away.
If you get stuck setting up a payment processor, most online store builders have impressive support centers or forums where you can find all the information you need.
We recommend running a test order when setting up payments. This allows you to get a feel for how your customers will progress through the checkout stage so that you can make any changes and improvements.
“You want to make sure the checkout process is as seamless and easy as possible so that you don’t lose any customers at this late stage of the buying funnel. An easier checkout means more sales and higher profits!”
Selling clothes online is a competitive undertaking. In order to attract customers to your online clothing store (and away from the competition), you will have to get found on search engines.
This means that you need to think about optimizing your store for search engines. First of all you’ll want to have a keyword focused page title and meta description.
Your page title is the blue link you see in the search results and the meta description is the text underneath it that gives you an insight into what that page is about.
Keywords are what people search for to arrive at your online clothing store. They are terms that are related to what is on your online store.
For example, if you’re selling women’s vintage clothing and accessories, your keywords might be: ‘vintage clothing,’ women’s vintage clothing’ ‘vintage accessories,’ and ‘women’s vintage accessories.’
To show Google that your store is relevant to those keywords, you will need to use them in your page title and meta description.
Another thing you’ll want to do is make sure your site is structured in a way that Google can find all of your content.
This will help your store to appear in more search results. It also has the added benefit of helping your customers navigate quickly and easily around your store.
For example, if someone searches ‘blue denim jacket’ then having good site structure might make your blue denim shirt product page rank in search engine results pages (SERPs) because your homepage more than likely won’t.
This is because it is not tailored to this specific search term as it is more of a general page (not specifically about blue denim jackets).
A logical site structure improves visibility to Google, which means more traffic to your site and ultimately more profits.
To do this make sure your pages link to one another, for example have a link back to your home page from your product pages.
This not only makes Google happy, but will keep your customer happy too as they can easily navigate around your store. And we all know the saying: ‘a happy customer is a loyal customer,’ so your SEO strategy isn’t only gaining new customers but is helping to turn them into returning ones.
Online store builders often hold your hand through the SEO process, but we’ve found Wix to be particularly good at this. Wix has its own SEO Wiz that creates a tailor made SEO plan for you.
Wix’s SEO Wiz gives you a clear checklist of things you need to do, making it very easy to make your online clothing store search engine and customer friendly![/caption]
“Online store builders rarely leave you to your own devices, they often have exhaustive help centers to see you through setting up your ecommerce site.”
“Previewing your store is like having a quick look in the mirror before you leave your house in the morning. No-one wants to spend the day walking around in a back-to-front or inside-out t-shirt”
After creating, customizing and optimizing your online store, you’re probably feeling more than a little impatient about starting to sell your clothes online right? But take a step back for a second, you need to preview and test it first.
It’s important to check that your store looks exactly the way you want it to. More importantly, you need to make sure that everything works seamlessly to ensure a good user experience so that you sell as many clothes as possible.
We recommend you ask a friend or family member to help you preview your store, as after building it and staring at it for so long, you may have missed some silly little mistakes.
Once you’ve previewed your clothing store and are totally happy with it, it’s time to publish and start selling clothes online!
Getting your store up and running is the first step, but in order to make sure you start (and continue) selling clothes online, you will need to market your store.
We recommend marketing your online clothing store on social media. This is a free and easy method of getting your brand name out into the world.
You could simply give your customers the chance to like your business on Facebook or to follow you on Twitter which means they can keep up with all brand updates, industry news you might share and any upcoming deals. This also helps you grow your brand and build up trust with your customers.
You could also integrate your social feeds directly into your online store.
Imagine showcasing your Instagram feed on your store, what a great way to give real life examples of your clothing line and give your customers more reasons to make a purchase!
Shopify, Wix, Bigcommerce and Weebly all have extensive App Markets that allow you to extend the functionality of your online store, such as through the integration of social platforms.
The power of their App Markets doesn’t stop there. You can also add features such as visitor analytics and methods of gathering customers’ email addresses for marketing campaigns.
Online stores in particular can make good use of email marketing apps and plugins. After all, you’ll have collected your customers’ email addresses when they made a purchase, so you have a ready made audience of people to market to! You can send updates and promotions that will help you drive more sales.
Another marketing method you could think about is blogging. Most builders allow you to add a blog to your online store very easily. You can publish thought leadership pieces, really display brand personality and build a loyal following. Blogs can really create a trusted brand name and help to boost your sales through repeat business.
Blog content is also a great thing to share on social media or to promote via email marketing – it all ties in together! This helps to truly establish your brand as a legitimate, trustworthy contender in the ecommerce retail space.
With these easy, effective and inexpensive marketing methods, your online clothing store will be making big bucks in no time at all.
To show you it’s not impossible to chase your dreams, check out some clothing stores created with online store builders whose clothes are flying off the virtual shelf!
Flatspot is an independent skate store and an industry leader in men’s contemporary fashion and street-wear. Their store is powered by Shopify, through which they sell 15 different types of clothing, from caps to sweatshirts and bags to trainers. Their products come from 35 brands and they now ship those products worldwide.</em
Beacha Swimawear is a company founded by a team of three who decided to design swimwear that suited a particular niche in the market – making comfortable and attractive swimsuits for all body types.
Their success just goes to show that there is space for everything online – no matter how niche an idea is! They power their online clothing store with Wix where they are able to showcase a catalog of around 50 products and host video content.
Their store is elegantly presented reflecting the elegance of their swimwear and has clear call-to-actions to encourage purchase, making for a good user experience that converts!
Daisy Del Sol
Daisy Del Sol is an online vintage and contemporary clothing store. Their store is powered by Bigcommerce. They started out selling vintage clothing and later expanded to a more contemporary range, an expansion made possible by their online store builder.
Bigcommerce allows stores to host a large number of products on their sites making them an excellent choice of builder for stores thinking about expanding in the future.
You’re now fully aware of the key steps you need to take in order to set up your online store and start selling. You’re probably also relieved to find out it’s not as technical as you might’ve thought!
Thanks to drag and drop online store builders, like Wix and Shopify, you’re able to sell clothes online without needing to know how to code and without breaking the bank.
Think of using an online builder as like making your own shirt or blouse.
There is an investment of time, rather than money, and you can make it in exactly the style you want rather than having to conform to something made by someone else (a website designer) that doesn’t fit quite right, and that you’ll have to pay even more to correct.
Start your online clothing store today by signing up to one of these free trials:
To continue developing your clothing store and to really maximize your success, sign up to our newsletter using the form below.
If you do sign up, we’ll send you helpful hints and pro-design tips to help you push your online store to the next level.
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