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Starting an Onlne Clothing Store - Page 2

post #16 of 29
A owner wrote about his experience, the owner of Rider Boot Co. I think its more relavent to a brick and mortar store tho

"A couple of points: 1) Unless you have a reputation (experience), none of the brands mentioned will return your call - let alone sell you. 2) Before you can get great merchandise, you have to have a great environment. We just built our third store here in Richmond; 8000 sq. ft. cost $600,000 to build out. 3) Whose going to do your tailoring? Got to buy sewing machines, pressers, boiler...not to mention the people to run these machines. 4) Payroll and rent will take away 30-35% of your sales. Assuming, of course, you don't want to work alone. And this does not include what you have to pay on the note to build out the store. Again, the 'best' brands generally don't sell mom and pops. 5) Don't assume that the stores with big reputations are succeeding - one of the big names just mentioned just got cut off by one of their principal tie vendors who did most of their private label work due to their inability to pay LAST years invoices. Another has lost 30% of it's volume over the last couple of years, and has turned to South American production to help improve the margins. A very well known shoe store with multiple locations in the SW and W of the US placed an order with a manufacturer at the show in Italy with one of my vendors in September. Before I was done, the Director got a call on the cell phone from the Insurance Credit carrier declining to accept the order due to payment issues. 6) If you are new, and somehow able to develop a relationship with a well know, high-end brand, you better be right, all the time, from the get-go. Your hands are tied on price so you won't be able to discount your way out of mistakes. You'll be told what you are going to sell and for how much. 7) Credit will not be available to you from a vendor - you will pay up-front. Our store has been in business for over 30 years and has NEVER paid an invoice late. We pay our bills on the 10th of the month no matter what - and it still took 5 years of paying 30% at the time I placed an order and 70% before the order shipped before I was finally able to get terms from Italy last year. 8) You've heard the saying 'good help is hard to find'. Well, that's wrong; good help is virtually impossible to find. And it will cost you if you do. And this is what I think off the top of my head - if you wan't to go through all this, and take the huge financial risk, you better LOVE what you do - otherwise you don't have a chance. And when I say love, I mean love it 18 hours a day. Our owner came to America from Italy when he was 16 years old. He is now 63. He has not taken a day off (outside of buying trips) in all the days in between. Not one. No Sundays, no Thanksgivings', no Christmas', no New Years Days', not without going to the shop for at least a couple of hours. Shoulder surgery..it gets done at 6am so he can be back at the shop in the afternoon. Kidney stones...they can come between fittings. Kid's birthdays...schedule them in the afternoon upstairs in the stores' kitchen. That's owning a retail store. At least one that pays the bills."
post #17 of 29
very insightful thread. I simply do not understand how these boutique stores survive. If I ever open a retail business, it'd be to cater to the poorest segment of society...there are just so many of them to keep business afloat. Despite what this forum preaches, rich people do not sustain a permanent style. I am not rich, but I am also not poor, and I don't think I've paid retail for anything in the last 10 years.
post #18 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pantisocrat View Post

very insightful thread. I simply do not understand how these boutique stores survive. If I ever open a retail business, it'd be to cater to the poorest segment of society...there are just so many of them to keep business afloat. Despite what this forum preaches, rich people do not sustain a permanent style. I am not rich, but I am also not poor, and I don't think I've paid retail for anything in the last 10 years.

The poorest people of society don't necessarily have the day to surf the internet for the best deals on frivolous consumer purchases, ya know? If you want to make money, you go to where people are actually spending money.
post #19 of 29
Good thread. OP, I have no professional experience in online retail, or retail of any sort, but I have helped launch business to consumer online sites, and other media (TV mostly) products.

I would focus on three things. What is my idea and how does it stand against others. Is it a new idea? If it is, why have others not tried it already (assume that there are other people at least as smart as you in this world). If it is not, what is so special about me?

Second, what are the key strengths/ resources I need to bring to the table to make this a success? Is it - as seems to be from others' comments- relationships? Is it insight into fashion Is it experience in the industry? If I do not have these skills can I buy/ hire then? Is it worth it?

Third, execution. In my mind this the key differentiator. 90% of the time a business succeeds or fails depending on how you execute the idea, from the research you did, to the people you hired, to managing your cash flows etc,

Back to your idea: from what you described
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xhale12 View Post

I have plenty of money to start it up.

I would sell exclusively men's clothing.... more of the "streetwear" style. Brands like Raf Simmons, Geller, APC, Kolor, etc..... My target audience would be late teens to early 30's.

Forget the challenges represented in executing on this idea (why would APC make you it's retailer, for example, when there are scores to choose from) for a moment, The idea itself does not seem to me to be any different from or better than a score of other online stores. So why should your idea be successful?

You may want to refine this idea-for example (I am just making this shit up, these are not 'real' suggestions) you could say that I am going to sell products from only 2 or 3 seasons ago, at 90% off. Or you could say I am only going to sell comparatively hard to find items - kanjeevaram silks from India , Mongolian cashmere gloves, whatever. Or you could say I have so much money I'll just spend a few score million and I'll just buy my way into the business. But you need a better idea to begin with.
post #20 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pantisocrat View Post

very insightful thread. I simply do not understand how these boutique stores survive. If I ever open a retail business, it'd be to cater to the poorest segment of society...there are just so many of them to keep business afloat. Despite what this forum preaches, rich people do not sustain a permanent style. I am not rich, but I am also not poor, and I don't think I've paid retail for anything in the last 10 years.

In NYC they survive because you have enough local people with disposable income who are willing to pay full price for items, AND a steady flow of tourists year-round for whom full price boutique prices in NYC is oftentimes cheaper than what the items cost in their home countries.

Boutiques can survive, but even in super high-end places like Palm Beach, one often sees a change of storefronts, even during a booming economy.
post #21 of 29
how come one can't cherry pick the products that you want and ditch the rest from large designers? 90% of the stuff large designers come out with is crap and won't sell well anyways. it is like buying a music cd, 1 good song with 9 bad ones. so why force do designers force buyers to purchase them in the first place? it is sad going into a store and seeing stuff from a brand that is good and then noticing the medocre that will hvae to be marked down for sale at the end of the season.
post #22 of 29

Have you considered testing the waters with an Ebay store or by selling at Fulfillment by Amazon?

post #23 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by alocsin View Post

Have you considered testing the waters with an Ebay store or by selling at Fulfillment by Amazon?

Good luck with that one. Almost all of our dealer agreements specifically say no Ebay sales and some go so far as to specifically name Amazon as well.

What the OP has in mind is no small task or for that matter cheap to do. About all I can say is do your homework and be damned well sure of all that you are getting yourself into before you do it.
post #24 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xhale12 View Post

Does anyone have any experience in starting up an online clothing store? Similar to thecorner or farfetch......

Is it possible to do fairly well with one?

Farfetch has a weird model - they are essentially the web front-end for a bunch of small boutiques. They have no inventory risk, and they dropship everything, so they do zero fulfillment. If you got a lot of hustle, you can make a novel business play like they did. The current CTO of refinery29 did that on his own and he got instantly talent acquired by R29.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xhale12 View Post

I have plenty of money to start it up.

I would sell exclusively men's clothing.... more of the "streetwear" style. Brands like Raf Simmons, Geller, APC, Kolor, etc..... My target audience would be late teens to early 30's.

There are few places remaining where you can win on "I have better taste, so people will buy from me". You can't just be Barney's Co-op lite, which is what that plan sounds like.
post #25 of 29
This is a great thread and has been insightful. Big thanks to everyone sharing their own experiences.
post #26 of 29

Quote:

Originally Posted by JMRouse View Post

This is a great thread and has been insightful. Big thanks to everyone sharing their own experiences.


+1. Hope this thread keeps on growing!!

post #27 of 29

When you say plenty of money, you mean at like at least a quarter of a mil right?

 

Also, you have to get these brands to let you sell their crap.  They don't let just anyone sell their stuff.  You need to have experience first and have experience in, um, you know convincing them...

post #28 of 29

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dbear View Post

When you say plenty of money, you mean at like at least a quarter of a mil right?

 

Also, you have to get these brands to let you sell their crap.  They don't let just anyone sell their stuff.  You need to have experience first and have experience in, um, you know convincing them...


I need a job to get experience but I need experience to get a job!!!

 

Sometimes you can have the money but they aren't interested in selling to you. I was looking into stocking a certain brand and they told me to get back to them when my website looks nicer! Thankfully it is being remade right now so I shouldn't have to wait to long.

 

Building a good reputation is hard work.

post #29 of 29
What you need to realize about the online world is people who buy high end clothing are being turned slowly towards the web but having an offline prescence is essential especially for the high end market

Another factor you must take into consideration is stock turnaround and making sure you can shift the numbers before the season runs out as with online selling where most people fail is inventory control

Take care of this and the rest is gravy
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