Website & Online Store
After your have created your brand identity, it is vital to invest in getting a professional website to be the face of your brand. Every day I see companies with websites that are so poorly designed that I wonder what the stake holders were thinking. When your prospects would visit your website make sure you present to them your best face. Design standards are high up in the clouds these days and people are easily turned off by bad design. This is even more true if you are trying to sell your clothing line online.
For a static website where you are not selling cloths and accessories online, the minimum you would need are:
1) An elegant website design that matches your brand. It has to be customized and never ever go for free websites that are available through some hosting companies such as Godaddy.
2) High quality royalty free stock photos should be used in the web design. Do not let your web designer use photos from a Google search since the images may be copyrighted and this could result in a law suit down the line.
3) High quality photos of your products and garments. This single point can make or break your brand value. Unprofessional and low resolution photos of your garments will not create the right kind of impact and your sales will suffer.
4) A CMS (Content Management System) with your hosting so that you can manage and edit your website by yourself. If you want to create new pages or post some content on the website to keep it fresh, it would cost you quite a lot in the long term to keep going back to a design firm. Instead, you should invest a little upfront to get a website that has a CMS.
For an ecommerce website or online store, here are a few items you need to be aware of:
1) Go for a website and online store that you can own outright. There are several online solutions where your online store sits on their proprietary hosting system and links into the various e-commerce modules. If you decide to move your website down the line to a different hosting provider, you will find that you can take the design and the static pages but not the store. Of course, you can export all your products and orders and if the new system permits, you can import them back but it is not straightforward.
Ideally, if you budget permits, it is better to have a store that is created for your business and is hosted on an account that you own. This can usually be done with the WordPress platform.
2) Make sure that your eCommerce store provider does not charge a percentage of all sales transactions. This could be a killer. Typically such services offer a nice store for a low set up and possibly low monthly fees which makes it very attractive. In the beginning, you may feel that you will have fewer sales and hence the percentage commission would not be that significant. But you will quickly realize that when sales start picking up, you are paying up to 10% of every sale to the store provider!
3) Sign up for a payment gateway that charges a relatively low percentage per transaction. A good example is PAYPAL which is quite competitive. If you get a PAYPAL business account, your online store developer can hook it up to the website to accept credit card payments seamlessly.
4) Make sure that you online store website has social media integration to ensure people share your products and accessories on Google+, Facebook and Pinterest. This will give more visibility to your clothing line and will help with building brand recall and eventual conversions.