Many people want to build an e-commerce business online. That journey is not easy, especially for apparel. It’s incredibly competitive and you have to go through a specific path to get the right kind of product out there in the marketplace.
Ninety percent of Optimum7’s clients are e-commerce; twenty percent of those are apparel brands. Not everyone earns a million dollars in revenue; some even run at a loss. That’s why you can’t just dive into the business lacking a business plan, or a strategy.
Finding Business Opportunities in the eCommerce Apparel Space
What do you think is important about apparel? Who’s successful right now?
The newer apparel companies with more success are actually the lower price point brands. These are individuals who are selling tee shirts and screen-printed tee shirts. This was a saturated market. However, they’re doing very well selling these low price point tee shirts online.
How are they successful?
They significantly reduced their costs. For any apparel brand that’s trying to launch, it is hard to find a good manufacturer that will deliver higher quality for lower prices.
These companies also specialize. You have to go niche. If you’re going to sell tee shirts, sell tee shirts for pets, opinionated humans. Print funny slogans and phrases about pets or plants. People want to laugh.
You also don’t have to limit yourself to adults and kids. If you’re going to sell baby products, sell organic, or sell bamboo. If you’re going to sell leggings, you have to go niche like Lululemon. They’re specializing in their apparel brand.
Organic clothing is very relevant now. The types of fabrics that are bamboo or hemp are popular right now with concerned parents and ethical consumers. Swag is also very popular right now. Many companies are creating and gifting different types of swags with apparel. It doesn’t matter what type of brand you are going to build; you need to have the right kind of product.
Optimum7 manufactures bamboo products in Eastern Europe. The company sells them on Wayfair, Amazon, Walmart, Jet, eBay, Etsy, and on our own websites. That is how our marketers have experience.
First Steps For Starting An Online Clothing Brand
First, you need the prototype and go through a sample manufacturing process. To do this successfully, you actually need to know what you want. You need to have the specifications, drawings, and AutoCAD files. Sizes and colors also need to be determined because apparel isn’t one-size-fits-all; there are different body types to accommodate.
Before you even do a sample manufacturing process, you have to consult with an expert. You have to go to somebody who understands apparel manufacturing who can create this prototype for you. Then you can decide if you want to sell this product or not if there’s demand.
Next, you go through a supplement factoring process. An expert sends you the samples for this product for review. You need to determine the ideal quality. There are several different types of fabric quality, stitching, embroidery, and printing options. If you’re not familiar with all of this, you need to work with somebody who knows all of these options. They should advise on the optimal combinations, potential costs, and turnaround times.
When it comes to quality and the type of brand that you need to build from an apparel standpoint, it becomes a little challenging. Because of different price points, some brands sell clothing for $90 while others retail $9. Both can still earn millions in revenue.
What is the difference?
The difference is just the quantity. Products that are at a lower price point have to do a lot more volume. Clients that sell $90 or even thousand-dollar suits do the same amount of revenue, but they don’t have to hit those high quantities in sales. Such brands are completely different niches.
These low price points are not competing with these higher price point products. They’re not going after the same target demographic in most of these cases. The trick is dominating your niche, staying in your lane, and dominating where you are right now.
Our apparel brands that have a much higher price point have a completely different strategy from a marketing standpoint compared to those selling products at a lower price point. That’s why any upcoming e-commerce apparel brand will find if they find that specific niche to dominate.
Your business plan and niche determine your strategy. Are you creating a type of product that’s super-premium and you only want to talk with rich people who are going to spend $100 on that tee-shirt? Or are you targeting a more general population: people who are going to buy ten-dollar shirts?
Case Study: Online Clothing Ads
One video ad talks about “Best-fitting shirts for men.” This attracts men with body types that standard retail cannot help. Men need a shirt to fit nicely and comfortably, so they can come to work looking stylish. This ad pushed that for sixty seconds.
Each shirt costs about five dollars to manufacture. Let’s say they retail these shirts at $25. If a business is smart, they will take the twenty-dollar pocket and keep re-targeting the customer who made one purchase. They’ll probably make another purchase after such a positive experience. This can add up to millions of dollars in revenue if you invest in this single customer. Imagine it multiplied.
Building High-Quality Prototypes of Your Apparel Brand
Building a prototype can have many pitfalls. Sometimes the product itself is poorly designed or the material is bad. You didn’t work with the right expert or manufacturers, or you tried to take shortcuts on processes.
Always plan the product and sample manufacturing. When you get the sample, identify the qualities of the different types of samples. The costs determine how much you want to sell it for, and then plan marketing from the ground up. Figure out your niche — men, women, pets — and center your campaigns around that.
How much does it cost to develop and invest in an online apparel brand?
Before you get to the sample manufacturing process, you’re going to have to go through the designs and work up all of the different specifications of the product before you even get started. This can cost a thousand dollars minimum. Once you have those designs ready for the manufacturer, nice prototypes cost between four and five thousand dollars for a decent sample size. You can either take a business loan to develop these– we don’t recommend this option — invest your own money, or request a venture capitalist’s assistance.
Once you have those prototypes or products, then you can go into the video production. Crowdfunding on Kickstarter and Indiegogo is one option to raise the money. Every eCommerce business can advertise on Facebook, which allows them to build a campaign slowly for a smaller cost and to test the waters.
What is one way to determine you have a good product?
First is to ask your trusted friends and family. See if they like the product and rave about it. Ask for honest opinions. If you have a trusted mentor in the business, ask them as well.
The second is to determine your available capital. If you don’t have four thousand dollars to create a prototype, then don’t waste your time. Without a prototype, you lack a safety net and confirmation that your product is of good quality. This is how college graduates earn two million in two months while established retailers run at a loss for years on end. You need the prototype and plan.
How about marketing?
Optimum7 has many posts on eCommerce marketing. Regardless, remember to finalize a business plan. You have to say, “Here is the product and niche. My target audience is listed as such.”
Outline profits after the manufacturing and sample manufacturing process, because you’re going to have your costs. Then you can say, “In the next 12 months, I plan on selling ten thousand of these. The average product is going to twenty dollars in profits. That means that I’m going to earn $200,000.”
Reach out to us anytime with any questions about apparel manufacturing, prototypes, or brands. No matter the niche, you can always find potential customers with the right clothing line.