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Fashion is causing quite the frockus when it comes to new online retail businesses. The industry is the largest B2C ecommerce market segment globally and is expected to grow to nearly $1.2 billion by the end of 2025.
This enormous market presents reams of potential for new businesses in the online fashion sector. However, even with Vogue-worthy clothing designs, a boujee brand name and expert industry knowledge, you’ll be going nowhere without a solid website.
Fortunately for you, we’ve put together this simple, easy-to-follow guide to help you turn your online business idea into a fully fledged, successful clothing empire. Get your store set up and start selling products in a matter of hours by carrying out the following steps.
There’s a lot of planning that needs to go into launching a successful clothing line. Thankfully, one area which needn’t cause undue stress is creating a website to promote your business. Thanks to modern templates like the one below, you can create one of your own in under an hour.
At Startups.co.uk, we test and rate ecommerce tools, and we’ve identified Shopify as one of the best you can choose for creating a clothing site. Shopify even has a selection of custom website templates designed specifically for clothing and fashion businesses – you simply drop your own product inventory, wording and preferred imagery into your chosen template. Better still, it’s completely free to try.
Before you can start selling wares online and featuring your collection on London’s Fashion Week catwalk, you’ll need to get your ecommerce store up and running and looking fabulous.
Ecommerce platforms are the ideal solution for creating a well-designed, professional website in a few simple clicks, saving you the time and cost of outsourcing to a web designer.
Most platforms offer similar features, but which stand out as the best choices for ensuring your online fashion venture is a success? Here is a rundown of our top-rated online store builders:
Shopify is our top recommendation when it comes to creating an online clothing website. In our recent round of in-depth ecommerce product research, Shopify earned second place overall, with an impressive score of 4.6/5.
But why is Shopify ideal for building an online clothing website in particular? Because it offers the highest number of quality sales features compared to any ecommerce platform, averaging a score of 61/65 across the 13 sales-specific areas we evaluated.
We’ve highlighted just some of its brilliant sales features below.
Read our full Shopify review.
“Definitely design your website yourself using an ecommerce platform – you really don’t need to pay £1,000s for an expert. The Shopify platform is ideal – it’s super easy to build something that looks professional, and there are so many plugins that you can easily add along the way as your business grows – Whether it’s cross-selling products, arranging preorders, or reviewing widgets, there’s a tool for everything you can think of!
I was about to pay an agency £3k to do my website, as I didn’t think I could. Then when COVID hit I panicked and tried to bring costs down by trying it myself, and I couldn’t believe how great it looked!”
BigCommerce took fifth place in our review of the top six ecommerce platforms for small businesses. After our extensive research, we gave it an overall score of 4.2/5.
Despite this, we’ve ranked it as the second-best platform to use when it comes to creating an online clothing store. This is because, like Shopify, it has incredible sales features you can take full advantage of. It’s also our highest-ranked platform for multi-channel selling.
BigCommerce’s standout feature is its inventory tools. Ideal for your online clothing website, they include a stock management dashboard, total revenue report and customer site count.
Wix took the top spot in our ecommerce platform research and user testing, receiving an incredibly impressive overall score of 4.8/5. It is clearly the best ecommerce platform for small businesses, due to its design flexibility and efficient help and support.
Its ease of use, value for money, and included support all make Wix a great option for anyone looking to start an online clothing store.
There are so many other features when it comes to Wix that we advise checking out our in-depth review for more information.
With so many options available, selecting the right ecommerce platform for your business can be confusing. This is where we come in. Our free comparison tool will match you with the right provider for your company’s needs, providing you with direct ecommerce provider costs that you can easily compare.
All you have to do is fill out a few details, and we will take care of the rest.
So you’ve done your research, checked out our amazing ecommerce reviews and found the ideal platform to get your online clothing store up and running.
Now – how do you decide which plan is right for you?
Most ecommerce platforms offer three or four different plans, all varying in the features available and the amount you’ll be charged per month.
It can be confusing to work out what your best options are, especially as you may grow and scale your business quicker than expected.
The great news is, you can upgrade your plan at any time with the providers we’ve mentioned – so don’t let that cause you any headaches.
The even better news is that we’ve provided you with a breakdown of each provider’s plans, including the costs per month and the key features included, to help you make an informed decision.
That means you can spend less time researching and more time selling!
Tom Corless, SEO manager at digital marketing agency Wolfenden:
As Shopify can get quite pricey, we would definitely recommend starting with the Basic Shopify plan. You will still be able to sell unlimited products, and can use a maximum of two staff accounts – convenient if you are working with a business partner. You’ll also have access to 24/7 support and multiple sales channels, all for much less than the next plan up.
Like Shopify, BigCommerce was created to help businesses scale. We would recommend the Standard plan to get you started, as it is affordable and includes reporting tools, multi-channel selling and more of the brilliant sales features that make BigCommerce so great – including coupons and discounts.
You’ll notice the big difference in Wix’s pricing compared to Shopify and BigCommerce, which is why Wix scored so highly for value for money in our research. You may be tempted to go for the Business Basic plan, but we actually recommend Wix’s Business Unlimited plan.
The Business Unlimited plan is best for growing online stores, as features include advanced shipping methods, multi-channel selling and product reviews – all of which are not included in the Business Basic plan.
So you’ve selected your ecommerce platform and picked your plan – now you need a domain name.
A domain name is essentially your website name, which gives your clothing store its unique identity online. Typically you’ll want it to be identical or very similar to your brand name, to save customers searching for you online any difficulty or confusion.
Have a hard think about your brand name before setting up your domain. Is it catchy and unique? Does it roll off the tongue, or is it more like the word ‘onomatopoeia’?
You don’t want it to be too similar to a big existing brand name, so unfortunately that rules ‘Nake’ out. Your best bet is to think about your brand ethos and the type of products you are selling, and develop a company name that closely relates to them.
Purchasing a domain name is easy, as the majority of ecommerce platforms offer it as standard when you sign up to a plan. Some providers (like Wix and Squarespace) even offer a free domain for one year if you purchase a plan on an annual basis.
It is quick and easy to do it this way – just keep in mind that if you decide to change your ecommerce provider, you’ll need to transfer your domain name over too, which can be a bit of a nightmare.
Your other option is to purchase a domain name through a third party, such as Bluehost. The process may take slightly longer, but by choosing this option you’ll have the flexibility of transferring your domain over to another ecommerce website with minimal fuss.
If you would like to learn more, take a look at our dedicated guide to buying and registering a domain name.
Now for the fun part, which is selecting the template you want to use and designing your website around it.
As we’ve already covered, each ecommerce provider offers a number of pre-written templates, to give you the building blocks of your shiny new clothing website!
It is your job to select the template which best suits your needs and the identity of your brand. We would suggest trying out a number of different templates before you settle on one, just to get a feel for the designs and the functionality of each.
“Always look for templates that reflect your brand and offer simplicity. You don’t want to over-clutter the screen, and you ideally want to use themes that do not impact your load time. While you may find some templates that are exceptionally funky, you need to remember that all those little extra bits need more time to load and will slow down the site, which could increase your drop out rates.”
Whilst selecting your template, have a real think about your target audience – you should always be keeping your customers in mind.
You should also conduct some research into your competitors’ themes and templates, and ask yourself what would help you to recreate their success.
Shopify was created for the sole purpose of helping business owners build an online store. This puts its templates in the advantageous position of being designed with ecommerce optimisation in mind.
Shopify’s range of themes is limited, but each is well designed and attractive for visitors to view. You can choose from 10 free ones, with an additional 50 available at a cost of £115-£187.
Each industry theme comes with a curated selection of features that Shopify believes will be most useful for a business operating in that sector. With this in mind, aim to use its clothing and fashion templates, as they are far more likely to have the features you’ll want for your store.
BigCommerce, although not as finely tuned as Shopify, still offers a solid and reliable base of templates for you to work with. However, there are still less options than you get with Wix – BigCommerce only offers twelve free templates in total.
The designs are also pretty basic, so don’t expect anything flashy unless you’re happy to spend over £100 for a more professional, modern-looking template.
Wix offers a number of different template designs (over 700, in fact) depending on the style and tone you want from your website. Although not the flashiest or most visually stunning designs, they are simple, clear and professional.
The functionality of each template is also brilliant, which is understandable considering Wix achieved a solid score of 4/5 for design functionality in our recent round of research. All templates automatically reformat to fit whatever device they’re viewed on, and you can preview how your site will look on mobile within the desktop editor.
If you’re using Shopify or BigCommerce, don’t worry about committing to your first template – you can change your website theme at any time with these ecommerce platforms. Once you’ve chosen a template with Wix, on the other hand, it cannot be changed.
Once you’ve selected the holy grail of online clothing templates for your store, you’ll finally get to flex your creative muscles and start customising.
Most ecommerce platforms offer a lot of the same customisation abilities, which we’ve listed below:
Some ecommerce providers, like Wix and Shopify, allow you to also customise your checkout page. You can add your logo and cement your brand throughout the buying journey.
Remember to check out any website changes you make on both mobile and desktop to ensure the customisations look good no matter what device your customers are shopping on.
You’ve selected your ecommerce provider, the products are all on virtual shelves and your brand aesthetic has fully taken shape. Now it’s time to make sure you can start taking card payments.
You must connect a payment processor to your store in order to make any money selling clothes online. Without one, you won’t be able to take card payments from your customers.
Setting a payment processor up is simple, and the majority of online store builders will provide you with instructions before your site goes live. But what processor options are available?
Shopify has its own integrated payment processor in conjunction with Stripe, called Shopify Payments. This processor removes all transaction fees and allows you to take payments and manage them directly from the Shopify user dashboard.
But if you decide not to use Shopify Payments, you’ll have plenty of other options – this website builder also supports nearly all major payment gateways, including Apple Pay, Amazon Pay and PayPal. Just keep in mind that you will have to pay an additional transaction fee of 2% (on top of the credit card fee of 2.2%) if you are using a payment processor other than Shopify Payments.
BigCommerce does not currently offer its own in-house payment processor. This isn’t an issue however, as it supports all major payment gateways including PayPal, Stripe, Square, Amazon and Apple Pay.
What’s great about BigCommerce is that unlike its competitors, it does not charge any transaction fees. The only fee you’ll have to pay is the standard credit card charge of 2.2% + 20p.
Wix Payments is Wix’s own payment processor. Like Shopify Payments, it allows you to handle all payments directly from Wix and removes the need for a third-party processor.
You can manage all your transactions via the user dashboard, and you won’t be charged any additional transaction fees for using Wix Payments.
In fact, like BigCommerce, Wix doesn’t charge any transaction fees no matter what payment method you choose – although the credit card processing fee remains the same (2.2% + 20p).
Wix accepts most of the major payment options, including Square and Apple Pay.
It’s all well and good having your online store up and running, but you now need to attract customers and market your brand.
There are a number of ways you can do this, one of the most successful and cost-effective methods being social media.
Another method is advertising, although this comes at a cost that you may not be willing to pay. Dharmesh Suraj Bali, the founder of eco activewear brand HAVAH, advises:
Below, we’ve gathered some insights and top tips from successful businesses in the online clothing industry, to help you put together an effective marketing strategy and get your brand out there!
‘‘Have a strategy. Many brands have an idea of who their customers are and how to reach them, but how much of that is just a gut feeling? To get concrete answers, spend some time building a buyer persona. From there, you can develop a value proposition. In doing so, you can spend more time getting in front of the right people and encouraging them to buy more from you.”
“Never ever pay for likes on Facebook/Instagram/TikTok. That’s a definite no-no. Instead, build your following organically by using hashtags to attract your tribe. Always aim for quality over quantity, else you won’t get any engagement/traction. Facebook Ads can work, but opt to define your own audience rather than ‘boosting’ posts – the latter is a waste of time and money.”
To recap, these are the main steps you should take when creating an online clothing store:
Step 1: Choose the best online store for selling clothes
Step 2: Choose the right ecommerce plan for you
Step 3: Choose your domain name
Step 4: Design your website
Step 5: Customise your templates
Step 6: Set up a payment processor
Step 7: Market your brand online
Now you are good to go, be sure to understand the importance of selecting the right ecommerce platform before you get started.
The pain, time and effort it takes to change your website over to another platform is not worth it, so be sure to do plenty of research. We’ve put together a review of the six best ecommerce platforms, which should help you make an informed choice.
Although for us, because of its amazing sales tools, unlimited product capabilities and in-house payment processor, Shopify is certainly the best ecommerce choice when it comes to creating an online clothing store.
Regardless of our opinion, though, you should always compare ecommerce providers before signing on the dotted line. The last thing you want is to be stuck with a service that doesn’t fulfil the needs of your business, even if it is, generally speaking, a great product.
Either way, as long as you follow our step-by-step guide, your stock will be flying off the virtual shelves in no time – good luck!
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Ross has been writing for Startups since 2021, specialising in telephone systems, digital marketing, payroll, and sustainable business. He also runs the successful entrepreneur section of the website.
Having graduated with a Masters in Journalism, Ross went on to write for Condé Nast Traveller and the NME, before moving in to the world of business journalism.
Ross has been involved in startups from a young age, and has a keen eye for exciting, innovative new businesses. Follow him on his Twitter – @startupsross for helpful business tips.
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