If you’re a designer or just a fashionista who knows how to find something fabulous and finally thinking of taking the plunge into opening an online shop, here’s an initial checklist of 10 things you might not have thought of…
Think about Sizing – What size ranges do you want to make? Any factory will need a ratio of what you want to understand how to cut the cloth e.g. for women’s sizes 6-14 a standard clothing ratio in the UK would be something like 1:2:3:3:2 but if you’re planning on designing skimpy fashion bikinis the people that buy them will on the whole be younger with smaller body types so maybe you want 2:3:3:2:1
Cabbage – What are you planning to do about cabbage? (off cuts & over-runs from the factories) Think about putting an agreement in to buy cabbage back off the manufacturer to prevent ‘copies’ and ‘seconds’ appearing on eBay.
Is the factory your looking at suitable for the materials you want to work with? Most important thing to look at is cleanliness and sharpness of needles, if the workers hands are dirty and there is dust on the floor you’ll end up with clothes with marks on. If the needles aren’t sharp enough or not designed for that material you’ll end up with holes in the stitching.
What quantities are you producing? This is crucial the more you make the lower the price but the more likely you are to get stuck with hundreds of unfashionable bikinis at the end of the year. Most factories will have a minimum order quantity this can vary from 50 to 50’000 depending on how they operate, there is always some flexibility in this, consider whether you can make the same bikini in 5 different colors to prevent the machines being re-set and allowing lower minimum quantities.
Where are you going to store your stock? Are you planning to store the stock yourself, have a small warehouse or lock-up or use a fulfillment house to store and dispatch your orders for you?
Domain Name – Don’t choose a business name until you know you can buy and aquire all the relevant domains, Facebook Pages and Twitter feeds to go with it.
E-commerce platform – Most people when they start selling online use an e-commerce platform to sell their stuff. Choose wisely they are all very different with different sets of features for different types of business. I would always recomend WooCommerce for its open-source flexibility. However PrestShop and Drupal are probably the best of the rest.
Marketing – Think about how your getting your brand out there – social media and SEO will only go so far. Email marketing, clever partnerships, competitions and PR are crucial. I would definitely be thinking about Pinterest, I know your on Twitter, then there’s sharing features for Facebook to consider. You could even think about having a Facebook shop.
Reviews – Reviews and customer feedback are going to become more and more important the way the internet is going. Think about joining TrustPilot, reviewcentre.com , Google+ reviews etc. and incentivising your customers with gifts, discounts and referrals to leave positive feedback.
Photography – You will need professional looking shots of the stock. I would recommend shooting against white backgrounds as these are the easiest to manipulate but where you can, also think about fun and more unusual shots –going back to the bikini example why not have a video of a bucket of water being thrown at your models in the bikini to show that it doesn’t sag or go see through?
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