There is an increasing number of online fashion retailers with multi million dollar valuations. In March of 2015, luxury fashion retailer Farfetch was valued at $1bn. Although, the valuation may be considered a bit inflated by some, Farfetch isn't the only online fashion retailer with multi million dollar valuations. Nasty Gal, Shoe Dazzle and many others have had been funded by venture capital funds to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.
Aside from being potential gold mines in sales for their owners, the second hand market for online fashion stores is healthy as well. Sites have been resold for amounts that vary from as little as under a hundred dollars to well into five-figure sums.
So if you have any inclination towards the idea, that you can start an online fashion retail business of your own, I'll point you to a few things that help make an online fashion retailer successful after describing the sort of website you should be looking to build.
How Does A Good Fashion Retailer's Site Look ?
This is the landing page of Farfetch.
Now, since we primarily intend to concentrate on WordPress sites. Let's have a look at how some of the better WordPress themes and see how they compare to Farfetch.
Fashion & Style
Anyone of the themes would work extremely well to create a medium traffic online retail store for fashion or similar retail products.
Here's what many fashion retail themes have in common and what you should be on the look out for while picking a fashion theme.
- Multiple Menu formats for great customizability
- Great visual feel to the landing page
- No clutter what so ever and minimal wherever possible
- Easy order and check out pages
- Compatibility with all eCommerce plugins and payment modes
There's one more thing you should be aware of, some fashion themes specialize in one of two things either blogging or selling. A good fashion retail theme can be used to create powerful blogs, while not compromising on the ability of your website to sell products.
Alternately, you can also start a fashion store with Shopify. Shopify is a great alternate route to create any retail website including fashion websites.
If you want to learn more about Shopify, read our Shopify review here.
3 Things in Cracking The Fashion Industry
I feel the greatest difficulty in creating a successful online fashion retail company lies in knowing the business, getting the website fundamentals correct and having the ability to build a strong brand.
1. Hosting & The Right Plugins
I'd recommend either WPEngine (Managed WordPress hosting, get 20% using promo code “WPE20”) or using Digital Ocean's VPS. If you want an affordable option, you can opt for a VPS hosting from ScalaHosting.
Either you decide to go with a virtual private server or a shared hosting, you'll need a CDN service like MaxCDN to serve your images. Fashion sites tend to be media heavy and a CDN will help keep your website lightning quick.
And apart from that, you'll need a couple of plugins that every WP website would find useful. I also think search engine optimization and site caching would be very important. I'd recommend WP Rocket and Yoast SEO to help with caching & search engine optimization.
2. Blogging, Marketing and Developing an Organic Community of Fashion Lovers
If I were to start a fashion blog today, I'd fail miserably. Why ? I'm woefully lacking in knowledge about the fashion industry. You may say, “well! This is true of any industry”. Maybe so, but I do think it is particularly true of the fashion industry and is near damn impossible to feign genuine interest and passion in fashion.
I find that the triad of blogging, marketing and developing a community is very important. Many successful online fashion retail stores owe a great deal of their site's traffic and revenue to their blogs.
Nasty Gal seems to have a great blog.
People do not purchase clothes or fashion products because they necessarily like them. They buy clothes and fashion products because they would like to receive a stamp of approval from their neighbors, their friends and their loved ones. And fashion can to a great extent affect how people perceive you.
For more about starting a blog, check out Jerry's blogging 101 guide here.
3. The Value of the Fashion
The Value attached to fashion actually derives directly from the value of people's perception.
You can increase the reputability of your brand by creating positive associations. As more and more people associate your brand as something they'd like to see their own identities associated with, your brand becomes more powerful. Every step you take on this journey should be designed to increase your brand's marketability value.
Maria Sharapova is a great tennis player and she made $22 million through endorsements and yet only little more than $2 million via actual tournaments.
Because she an extremely marketable athlete and it is the same reason she out earns almost every other female tennis player who may even be better than her at tennis. I take her case because the difference in income via the primary profession to income via endorsements is in the ratio of 10:1. You'll find that the same is applicable to pretty much every other marketable sport. Footballers, World Champions in Chess and Olympic athletes all make a great deal of money through endorsements.
Another common feature among all the successful fashion retailers I've researched – they all have a unique and rather genuine story to convey. Trying to start a fashion retail store without a story and a brand that you can scale effectively is like trying to scale a mountain on crutches.
Lastly, I'd like to also point you in the direction of two excellent articles which demonstrate how important marketing is, when it comes to creating a successful online or offline fashion store.
- 34 Things That Amazing Fashion Retailers Do.
- How To Build a Multi Million Dollar eCommerce Business With Almost $0 as Marketing Budget.
If you own a fashion store or plan on creating an online fashion, I'd love to hear from you about it.