Starting a Fashion Business – Survival Guide
With over 7 billion people on this planet, if each person owns a pair of trouser, shirt, and a jacket; results to a supply of 21 billion clothing products. That’s a huge market, and, with clothing being one of those basic necessity worldwide – fashion business is experiencing a faster growth and popularity across the globe.
Fashion products (including apparel, footwear, lifestyle and luxury products) are becoming the most demanded category among modern customers.
United States, China, India generates a large portion of overall revenue from the fashion apparel and accessory industry worldwide. And, as per Statista the United States’ fashion market is projected to reach 372 billion U.S. Dollars by 2020.
Fashion business is on a high!
This blog will highlight the most important things to keep in mind when dealing with fashion business.
Content that will be covered:
1- Firstly, some basics
2- Facts and figures on global fashion industry
4- Selling strategy
5- Marketing know-how
6- E-commerce fashion tips
Here we go:
I- Firstly, some basics about fashion business
Fashion business has been around since long, however, with the increasing talent of creativity among people across the globe this industry is now getting more competitive.
How can you ensure that you are into the right business?
Today, almost every fashion designer is looking to earn bigger profits from their artwork, however, most of them are often confused whether to start their own store or work for a leading fashion house. If you are confused too, the answer will totally depend on your goals.
If you are thinking to start a business of your own, how can you ensure you are ready for it?
Questions you need to ask yourself:
Q1- Are you mentally prepared?
If you attracted to the glamour part of the fashion world, and assume managing a business is fun as it sounds. Then you are wrong!
Having an online fashion business means you’ll have a store open 24*7, 365 days. This means orders will keep on pouring and there will be days when you will have to fulfill orders late midnight or even early hours of the day.
Fulfilling and delivering customer’s orders takes time, and effort, so much so, that you may be left with only 10% of the time for your designing. And, if your are unable to upgrade your store’s collection frequently(at least twice every month) can hamper bottom line results.
For some it’s an encouraging and money-making opportunity, however, fashion business can be a nightmare for designers who start off without being strong inwardly.
Q2- Do you have everything that is need to run the business?
Working in a fashion house, you’ll have an ability to gain insights about the business undertakings from people who are already experienced. However, if you are planning to run a fashion business of your own, you’ll have to spend more time to understand the entire designing process.
Apart from the designing process, sufficient capital flow is a must for a successful fashion business. Finance from friends and family can always be a great helping hand in the initial stage, but, you will also have to depend on banks, loans, and investors, as and when your business grows.
Q3- Will your product offer a tough competition level?
Fashion products need to have something in unique. This means, you need to get into the mind of your target audience and understand what motivates them. Be it the design, price, or the value of product, what can be the most influential factor that can encourage them to purchase your product over someone else’s.
II- Facts and figures on global fashion industry
Market value for fashion business
1- The world’s women’s wear industry 2014 is worth 621 billion USD (497 billion EUR)
2- The men’s wear industry is worth 402 billion USD (322 billion EUR)
3- The children’s wear 3- industry is worth 186 billion USD (estimated) (149 billion EUR)
4- Worldwide garment export 2014 – 708 billion USD (567 billion EUR); 412 billion USD (330 billion EUR)
Fashion business employment statistics
1- About 60 million to 75 million people are employed in the textile, clothing and footwear sector worldwide (2014).
2- To compare: in 2000 only 20 million people were employed in the industry.
Leading developing countries producing fashion garments
China, Bangladesh, India
Emerging countries producing fashion garments
Panama, Mali, Samoa
Source: Global Garment Industry Factsheet by Lina Stotz & Gillian Kane
III- Funding options for your fashion business
You start a fashion business and you experience an increased number of sales month-after-month. However, with a limited upfront capital may not be sufficient to finance the growth.
What can be the best financial source for your fashion startup?
1- Loan providers
This is one of the most common source that startups opt. Such organizations lend money on a particular rate of interest. The best part, you don’t need to give them equity shares of your business, as they are only interested to get the loan amount back within the decided term along with the interest. Loan can act as one of the ideal option for fashion owners with low upfront investments.
2- Financial investors
Second option, many fashion startups personally approach financial investors. Such investors offer you smart money, contacts and important advice that can help you build your fashion business. However, in return they will be a part of your profit-sharing that is decided in a agreement.
IV- Key selling strategy for fashion business
1- Have a system to track your sales behavior
Style and fashion keeps on fluctuating among modern customers, therefore the one that works now may not work tomorrow. This is why you need to keep a track on the demand and supply of fashion products you deal with.
So, what can you do?
– Adopting an inventory management system solution will bring all your fashion products listed across your channels at one place, so you can eliminate costly stock issues. Because, not being able to fulfil your new customer’s order even for once in the initial days can spread a bad word about your brand across the web.
– Google Analytics will allow you gain insights of your customer’s website browsing behavior, which in turn, makes it easy to optimize and offer website content and information to increase engagement level and sales, both.
– An order management system in place can help you consolidate all your customer’s orders at one place, from where you can easily integrate with the popular shipping service to fulfill and deliver those orders in time. This way you gain clear insights about the demand for your products and take immediate actions to increase sales for your fashion business.
2- Encourage feedback/reviews
Customer feedback can be an eye-opener for your fashion business, especially during the initial days. Collecting a number of feedback about your fashion products and brand, you can identify styling issues and take steps that can attract more and more sales opportunity for your business.
3- Hire a stylist/high-end fashion merchandiser
You may be a good fashion designer, but, starting an online fashion business all by yourself may not leave much time for creativity. Many e-commerce fashion brands are hiring fashion stylist that helps them gain a second opinion and produce unique styles and patterns that entices modern customers, always.
Traditional store owners are seen to hire high-end fashion merchandiser who performs all tasks from producing, product development, promoting, and selling of fashion products. They also help business owners to analyze, understand, and forecast new fashion concepts to increase engagement and sales, both.
V- Marketing know-how for your fashion business
Fashion business is all about introducing new styles and trends in the market. And, in most cases it is the business owner who runs multiple marketing campaigns to increase visibility and divert more and more traffic for their fashion store.
Before we start with the most effective ways to promote your fashion business, it is important to know your target audience. Understanding their needs you can communicate and offer content in the way they would like.
What can be those effective marketing methods for your fashion business?
1- Print promotion
One of the oldest and the most-cost-effective way of promotion is print. This method will allow you reach a large crowd and by offering them personalized content will automatically increase traffic for your fashion store.
2- Public relation
Being into a fashion business, you’ll frequently come up with new collections. Sharing such information via different publication houses will act as the best brand awareness program helping you target audience who are already interested in your products. Therefore, increasing visibility in the press is the key for building your fashion business.
3- Social media
Social media has already proven to be a powerful tool for promoting products and services, and with the increasing popularity of image-based social media platforms like Instagram- this can be a right choice for your startup fashion business. Such platforms will help you to target relevant audience who are already interested with products that your fashion brand offers. The best part most of the social media platforms allow many promotional tools for free.
Examples of social media selling strategy from leading fashion brands
Zara- a Spanish clothing and accessory retailer use the Twitter’s tool that allows them to identify to promote their new collection.
You can see how the brand has announced its new collection launch and making it easy for Tweeple(Twitter users)to purchase them by offering the reference ID of the product.
Topshop- a British multinational fashion retailer use the Instagram picture upload tool for spreading their special promotional offers.
Creating a buzz about their sales offer using hashtags allows the brand to increase visibility across the web.
Burberry- another British luxury fashion house uses Vine a video-sharing promotional platform by sharing its latest events and fashion weeks showcasing their latest and hottest collection.
The video presents Burberry womenswear allowing audience to an easy access to their ramp shows which automatically helps them increases exposure for the brand.
Starting a fashion business is not an easy decision to make, however, with a complete passion and above information will surely help you start and run a successful one.
Savio Fernandes is a writer who influences. Writing for over three years at Orderhive, he is currently focused in offering eCommerce and retail solutions for start-ups and medium business owners.
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