How to Be Successful Selling Clothing Online
Selling clothes online is an experience that many have these days as a one-off ?time to get rid of this expensive x,? but who among us have what it takes to turn it into a successful side hustle ? or even a full-time ship-from-home business? Truly, everyone who is willing to put in the time and effort required to build a successful brand online can succeed at selling clothes both new and old online. The trick is to know where to start.
Know Your Market
While this is a cliched term for a cliched idea, knowing your market is perhaps the most important aspect of building a successful business. This involves both marketing your items to the people who desire to buy them as well as switching up your inventory to serve your current customer base as necessary.
Where you market, and how you build your brand, is also important. If you choose to sell on a website such as eBay, Poshmark, or Facebook marketplace, you start at an advantage, as these sites allow you to build your business within a known framework while simultaneously marketing to your desired locations. This is especially helpful for those new-to-the-biz self-starters who need to build a base quickly or don?t know how to build a brand otherwise.
The alternative option is to build your own website on another host, such as Shopify, Squarespace, or WordPress, where you can fully customize your brand and your base ? and maintain full responsibility for your website traffic, as the marketing tricks of the trade such as purchasing advertisements, SEO-optimization, and hyping up your products are entirely on your shoulders. If you believe you have the chops to truly thrive in the business, taking this risk might be worth the freedom granted.
For a material-based business, photography is the best (and only) way to truly show shoppers what you mean when you say ?one-of-a-kind, high-waisted, lace-backed jeans with zebra print stripes down the side and a giant golden buckle.? While descriptions are critical and should be carefully considered ? do you want to be funny? Edgy? Business-serious? ? they are not the end of the line as far as the customer experience. Photography gives shoppers a clear idea of what you?re selling ? and is another way to market to your base more effectively.
When taking pictures of your items for sale, there are a few key features that should make it into the photo, including: full views of all sides; labels (especially if claiming name-branded); any visible flaws; and any ?fancy? details such as embroidery or lace. One of the tricks here is to upsell through your photography without lying. You want to emphasize the good qualities of every piece while also being honest about any blemishes that your second-hand or factory-defect options possess.
One way to do this is to be selective with your background and lighting. It?s best to work with solid, neutral or non-irritating colors, and choose (or curate) lighting that is most flattering to every piece posted. For full-time sellers, investing in a mannequin or dress form is the best way to show off those clothes as they will fit a human, which can both boost your sales and curb your returns in the long-run.
Consider Your Prices
Online shoppers are seeking to shop in their underwear and get a good deal doing it. As a new clothing seller, you?re seeking a solid return on your initial business investment. While these two objectives may seem at odds, this is the nature of any business (minus the shopping only in your underwear bit), and there is a sweet spot to be found if you know where to look.
Competitive pricing is critical to succeeding as an online shopper, as anyone looking at those classic Levis on your store can probably find a slightly more beaten up pair on eBay for half off. To know your margins, search for that exact or similar items online ? a basic Google search should do it ? and gauge the current market price points. Select a price that is on par with ? or even slightly below, for new sellers ? these prices.
If you?re a ship-from-home business, that means you?re doing a lot of?well, shipping. And shipping is expensive. If you?re willing to eat the shipping cost on every item as a cost of doing business, this should be taken into consideration when pricing. If the customer pays for their own shipping, this is more money out of their pocket ? if your prices are quite high to begin with, and then they have to pay $25 shipping on top of that, you may have just lost a sale.
One strategy many online sellers have is to list an item some percentage higher than they expect to get out of it and hope that some customer bites. If that doesn?t occur within a set period of time, usually two or three weeks, you can drop the price to something more reasonable and watching the purchase orders roll on in. This way, you can ?reduce prices? without actually losing any money.
Brand It Up
Building a brand is often an underrated aspect of selling items online from home. While it may seem simpler to just list a bunch of clothes at low prices and watch your products fly off the metaphorical shelves until you?ve built a customer base (and then jack up the prices like one of those no-good corporations), this isn?t compatible with a long-term business plan for most individuals.
Picking a name for your online business might seem to be underrated if you?re on a marketplace such as Facebook or eBay, but it is an essential central component of your brand that can be transferred when you?re ready to make the leap to your own personalized website. Keep it appropriate to your products and your market; if you can, throw in a pun or other little wink-wink to bring a chuckle to your customers.
Knowing your niche is a lot like knowing your market. You are selling to people who want to purchase your products ? stick to items that those people, or customers like them, will want to continue buying. Unless you have the room to run a full clothing store out of your basement, it?s best to select and maintain a few styles or sizes, or maybe build your brand as a seasonal store so you can move your product in and rotate them out again in three months (which allows for potential to rebrand if you think you made a mistake a season ago).
The most important part of building your brand is selling yourself. This means both marketing and humanizing yourself. People are more likely to buy your products if they feel that there?s another person at the other end of every transaction. Social media marketing is a wide-cast net that allows you to be human with all of your customers, former, future, and potential, in a single post, while also promoting your brand. It?s also important to keep in communication with your customers through every step of the purchasing process, from answering their initial inquiries to letting them know payment is received to even sending a quick ?Thank you!? blast to your email list at the end of the day.
There is No One Secret to Success?
?but there are several key steps, features, and processes you can factor into your business plan in order to maximize your potential for success. It all starts with knowing your base market and builds from there ? horizontally with your practicality, and vertically as you expand your merchandise, best business practices, and marketing presence. At the end of the day, while it takes a lot of work to achieve, success is conceptually simple:
- Picture it
- Price it
- Brand it