An Ultimate Guide To Starting An Online Apparel Store On A Budget

Ambitions are often thrown out the window as a consequence of financial restrictions. 

But it doesn’t always have to be that way. 

Starting an online apparel store has never been easier. With the tools like free SEO tools and platforms like Shopify that we have today, it has become a cakewalk to build a store on the web and promote the same. 

The best part about starting your apparel store online is the fact that you have to spend only a few dollars per month and you will be good to go. You don’t have to budget any rent costs or billboard advertisements for your store. The world on the web is generous that way. 

One thing to keep in mind is planning. Without proper planning in place, it can get difficult for you to start and manage your online store. 

So, without any further ado, let’s get the essentials straight. 

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First thing’s first. If you are not opening a brick-and-mortar business, how do you run your store? The simple answer to this question is by using a website. Websites are to the web what buildings are to the streets. 

You don’t pay the rent for a building on the Internet, but you will have to pay for the domain and hosting platforms for your website. But don’t worry, websites are not expensive, especially in comparison to the rent. 

One thing to keep in mind when building a website is that you should always ensure you are getting it done by a professional. Your web design needs to be user-friendly and offer your customers a good experience if you want them to convert. 

Suppose you are in New Zealand and want to start a website. If you are not sure who to contact, you can search for Auckland web design professionals on different platforms like Google or LinkedIn. You will find plenty of these designers. Make sure you compare the work of each professional and select who you think truly understands your users as well as your brand. 

This is because if your users are unhappy with your web design and have a poor experience, turning them from visitors to customers will be next to impossible.  

Just like your website, there are plenty of other things that need to be planned and organized. We are here to discuss exactly that. 

Steps To Starting An Online Store 

If you are just starting your online store, it can get overwhelming. That’s why I decided to take you through the process and simplify it as much as possible. 

Develop a business plan 

Like we discussed, you need a plan in place before you can go ahead and start your store. When it comes to eCommerce, it is important for you to sit, identify, and analyze all the possible business models. 

This is because when you work online, you have an opportunity to reach a larger audience by using different marketing methods. But in order to choose a marketing method, you need to first identify where your audience tends to shop from or how they function. 

Once you have an answer to these, it’ll be easier for you to direct your marketing strategies and messaging. 

The types of business models that you can choose from include: 

  • B2C eCommerce – marketing your products to the customers directly. 
  • B2B eCommerce – selling your products to wholesalers/retailers/other businesses. 
  • Dropshipping – passing on your order to a third-party website and not holding your inventory. This business model is different from print on demand because when you drop ship, the third-party shipper doesn’t produce the product that you are shipping; the entity is responsible only for shipping. It is best suited for ecommerce and online retailers who sell mass-produced products, such as t-shirts, cell phone accessories, electronics, kitchen tools, and personal care. So there are some tips to sell online without inventory.
  • Digital marketplaces – using popular websites like Amazon or eBay and finding your audience among theirs. 

Pick your domain and eCommerce platform

Once you know your business model, now is the time to find your domain name. Your domain name is your identifier. It is what your audience will use to find you on the web among your competitors and thus, you need something that’s easy to recall and remember. 

Make sure to keep your domain name simple and without any special characters. In fact, it’s best to keep it the same as your business name. It will be easier to find your website on the web. 

Once you have your domain, you need to then choose an eCommerce platform or a marketplace where you would like to host your website. There are plenty of platforms for you to choose from. Each platform comes with its own set of features. To choose the best one for your brand, it’s best to create a list of features you would need. 

Also, check for security and mobile optimization in each platform before you make the final decision. 

Once finalized, purchase the domain and space on the platform both. 

A quick tip, omni channel presence has proven to be a great strategy for brands. This allows you to be present everywhere your audience is. 

Add products and design your store 

Now that you have a website, it’s time to start adding your products to it. 

You want your visitors to stick around for as long as possible. To ensure this, it’s important you upload product photos that are clicked professionally and are supported by well-written product descriptions. 

Your product descriptions should be persuasive and address your customer’s pain points. Also, make sure you add pointers on the kind of fabric you have used, how it can be washed, and the sizes available. It is these pointers that help customers make an informed decision regarding the purchase of the product. 

Don’t slack on getting your products clicked professionally. These photos direct the decision of your audience of buying from your apparel store. You should make sure they get the gist of how the product will look when worn. Consider providing a 360-degree view for better chances of conversion. The more appealing the photos, the higher are the chances for you to make a sale. 

Before you add the products, finalize your color palettes, typography, and collect all the assets needed to be added. You can discuss the same with your website designer to ensure you both are on the same page. 

Set up shipping and payment gateways

Next in line is planning and displaying your shipping policies. 

Since you don’t have a brick-and-mortar store where your audience can come and pick the product, you need to make sure your product reaches your customers without any difficulties. 

It is important to ensure it’s seamless because 56% of consumers say they won’t go back to the retailer after an unsatisfactory experience. 

A few questions you should answer when deciding your shipping policies are: 

  • What type of shipping fee are you planning to offer? Is it free, flat, or variable? 
  • What locations are you planning to cover? Are you willing to go international? 
  • What carrier options do you have? Which one aligns the best with your business goals in terms of timings, pricing, and restrictions? 

You can also automate your shipping solutions if you choose the right platform. Just make sure you are comparing shipping rates beforehand. 

Once your shipping is sorted, your next step is to finalize your payment gateways. Ideally, you should give your customers multiple options. It ensures flexibility and they can still make the purchase even if they don’t have their card around. 

If you are not flexible with your payment gateways, you will find your customers abandoning the cart. Keep your website convenient for your users. 

Launch your store

Now that you have a website with all the products in place, it’s time to open the shutters i.e. launch your store. One thing to keep in mind at this stage is that initially, it is a test drive for your website. 

Hence, make sure everything ranging from the design of your website to its performance is in place. Here are a few things you should not overlook when finalizing your website before the launch: 

  • Check the navigation. Is it easy to visit the different pages of your website? Will your users take the journey you expect them to take? 
  • Ensure contact details of web support are mentioned clearly and right in front of your audience.
  • If you have added any coupons, ensure they work properly. 
  • Go through all the call buttons and titles. Check if they are working. 
  • Check the product images. Are all of them of good quality? Have you optimized them for SEO purposes? 
  • Make sure your payment processing integrations are working.  
  • Click and check whether all the mentioned links are opening or not. 

Market your store 

The last step after launching your store is promoting it and making your audience aware of your launch in the market. 

While pamphlets and newspaper advertisements work for brick-and-mortar stores, the digital world has its own ways of reaching out to people. There are several marketing strategies and tactics that you can use to expand your reach. 

Your initial goal should be to get noticed and generate qualified leads. 

In fact, you can even pre-launch your store on various social media platforms. This will help create a buzz among your audience and keep them excited for the launch of the store. 

One catch here would be ensuring you are implementing your pre-launch well, otherwise it can be tricky for you to create enough buzz and your Google Analytics will remain hanging out dry. 

Don’t worry, I have got you covered. Below are a few marketing techniques you can use to promote your online apparel store in the digital world. 

How To Market Your Online Store 

These marketing strategies and tactics can be used irrespective of whether you are pre-launching your store or planning to promote it once you have launched it. 

Search engine optimization 

When you own a brick-and-mortar store, you prefer it to be at a location that is easily accessible and right in front of the customers. This helps improve the footfall, right? 

You want to achieve the same goals when it comes to your online store. This is where optimizing your website comes into the picture. When you optimize your website for the search engine, it helps you reach on top of the search results. 

This means when your audience is looking for a store like yours, typing certain keyphrases that relate to your brand, you will be among those that appear first. And every time you are not appearing on the first page, you are losing out on customers. 

You can use a free website checker to analyze your website. This will help create a basis for your SEO strategies. 

Your SEO strategies often include finding the relevant keywords, optimizing your titles and websites to rank on those keywords, optimizing images, internal and external backlinking, and ensuring your URLs are short and simple. 

Organic social media marketing 

Social media marketing is inevitable. You cannot make the mistake of not launching and marketing your online store on social media platforms. 

Today, it is platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter that have kept the world connected more than ever. You will find all kinds of individuals on such channels including your target audience. Thus, social media marketing should be well included in your marketing strategy. 

Now, one mistake to avoid is trying to market your products on every platform. You can easily get distracted and try to use every channel but the truth is that it’ll be a waste of time and effort. Instead, find the channels that work best for your business in terms of where your audience lies. 

For instance, if you are an apparel store that targets the younger generation, Instagram is where you ought to be. However, if you are targeting an older generation, you should be using Facebook. 

Plan your content buckets and content calendar way before so that you are always consistent with your efforts. And consistency is the key when it comes to social media marketing because it helps keep the algorithms happy and that in turn ensures you are visible among your target group. 

Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is perhaps the best marketing strategy for your apparel brand. 

Influencers are who keep the show running for all the social media platforms. Just like the same suggests, they influence people. They might share food recipes, make-up tutorials, or even how to style their outfits. It’s the latter one that can do wonders for you. 

There is no dearth of fashion influencers that can help promote your brand. You can identify the ones whose personalities will match your brand and then, you should collaborate with them. 

You can ask these influencers to tag your brand in the reels, videos, or photos they are posting and it will help expand your reach. You can then reshare the same content from your profile. 

This way, you will get the visibility you want in front of your influencer’s audience and they will get the traction from yours. 

It helps expand the reach of both of you. It’s a win-win situation. 

Paid advertising 

When ad spends are in question, social media is among the top places you should consider without any second thoughts. With paid advertising, you have an option to expand your reach beyond your organic efforts. 

This means, you can get discoverable even among those that are not following you or are not even on your followers list. 

Paid advertising gives you a chance to narrow down your target group. Remember how we created buyer personas? You can use those buyer personas and select demographics, tastes, and preferences of your target audience. 

This ensures your ads are being watched by the group you want to sell your products to. 

Not only that, you can also tweak your marketing copy based on your user’s actions. 

For instance, your user went through certain products and links on your website but never got around to adding them to the cart because maybe they didn’t have their cards around or they didn’t want to indulge in impulse shopping. 

You can now retarget these customers. How? By showing up with the same products they were searching for when they visited your website. This will help them recall your brand and your products. Approximately 43% of consumers are more likely to convert when they are retargeted. 

Thus, you should definitely consider adding paid advertising to your marketing strategy. 

Email marketing 

Emails have been among us for longer than we can remember. 

Hence, it is only obvious that email marketing can do wonders for your brand. Emails are a great way to build relationships with your audience and also, convert leads into sales. 

There are plenty of strategies that you can use to leverage email marketing to the fullest. 

As an apparel brand, you can start a newsletter series and talk about different outfit options, fabrics, or even brand updates. This will add value to the lives of the consumer and also keep you in their minds. 

Another thing you can do with email marketing is sharing your new launches and discount coupons with your subscribers. This will make them feel exclusive and might also turn your customers into brand advocates. 


To wrap it up, we can say that starting an online apparel store is definitely less expensive when it comes to money but not when it comes to putting in your efforts. You need to give your time to your store if you want it to flourish. 

Just get your website ready with the help of a professional, select trustworthy shipping services, and test the marketing strategies that work for your brand. Once done, you are good to go!

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.