How to Start an Online Clothing Business

By Louise Balle

If you have an eye for fashionable in-demand clothing, you may be able to generate an income by selling clothing online. Customers are sometimes reluctant to buy clothing online (just 8 percent of clothing purchases were made online, according to a 2006 report), but if you can find a niche and items that people really want you may be able to achieve some level of success in this endeavor. It is fairly simple to start an online clothing business by establishing a merchant or PayPal account, website and supplier relationship.

Things You'll Need

  • Website domain and hosting service that offers a shopping cart utility
  • Merchant account (or PayPal account)
  • Supplier

Step 1

Find clothing suppliers that carry the type of clothing you want to sell on your site. You can ask to buy the items on credit, upfront (better discounts), or to set up a drop-shipping arrangement with the supplier. With a drop-shipping arrangement, the shipper will ship the products on your behalf whenever you receive an order. If you drop-ship, you will likely get a lower profit due to the convenience of not having to ship items yourself or store items in a warehouse. You may need an official business license from your state before suppliers will work with you.

Step 2

Sign up for a website hosting plan and choose a domain name that identifies the type of clothing you plan to sell. For instance, if you're selling sporty clothes for girls, "" would be ideal. Make it as descriptive as possible without being too lengthy (preferably 25 characters or less).

Step 3

Create five main pages for your website. There should be a home page where you post a few featured clothes, a contact-us page, shipping and order information, privacy policy (explain how you will handle customer information) and terms and conditions (the legal disclaimers, rules and policies regarding the use of the site).

Step 4

Apply for a credit card merchant account. This is how you will be able to accept credit card payments for your clothing order online. You will pay an upfront fee (about $50 to $100), a monthly maintenance fee and a percentage of each transaction to the merchant services provider. Keep the information about your merchant account handy.

Step 5

Take high quality photos of all of the clothing that you plan to sell or ask for digital product pictures from the supplier.

Step 6

Activate your website's secure shopping cart utility. Follow the instructions, which vary depending on the software, and enter your merchant account information when it is requested. See "Resources" for more details about how a shopping cart works.

Step 7

Upload each piece of clothing including the photo, description, price and item number to your shopping cart utility. This will create a new page for each piece of clothing on your site. Publish the items to your website so that people can browse through your clothing collection and make a purchase when they are ready.

Tips & Warnings

  • This is a great solution for a designer who plans to sell his own small clothing line online.
  • You can also purchase shopping cart software from a third party supplier.
  • You can set up a PayPal account (free sign-up) to accept payments from customers as an alternative to applying for a merchant account. A PayPal account comes with its own shopping cart system.