Are you thinking of opening a small clothing business online? Not sure how to do it all alone, or what it takes to get started? Are you on a budget and right now just cannot afford to hire a few different people to do all the jobs that are necessary to run your online retail business?
Well, I can help you a bit by listing my eleven favorite online tools, which are basically the scaffolding of my online vintage clothing store. My clients and customers don't see what is happening in the background, but they get the end results from these magical tools, directly or indirectly, whether it is a neat invoice, an easy-to-navigate checkout page, a watermarked image with my business logo, or the seamless, cohesive and continuous flow of my social posts.
Read my short descriptions of each tool, and take advantage of my referrals!
I use Wix to run my online store. I came across their site a few years ago when I became a freelancer. It was love at first sight: the visual effects and the user-friendly platform with its many features were just perfect for what I was looking for. I was on a limited budget and did not have money to invest into hiring someone to create a website for me. It took me several hard days, but I managed to put together my first website with Wix. Since then, I have changed many things. I became a bit quicker about what I am supposed to do, and it's still working for me. I am using their Basic Store package, which costs $194/year. That is just a little more than $16 a month for having your own shop and having your customers pay you directly. I also purchased my own domain and email address from them for a little less than $100/year. Wix offers all the essential basics you need to run a small shop, from accounting to email campaigns to a blog platform. I simply like it, and I continue to be a loyal customer.
Another favorite of mine is 17hats. 17hats is a single platform that combines many apps, such as invoicing, project tracking, a contact list, questionnaires, contracts, email templates, timer, and many, many more. Probably that is why it called 17hats: you are wearing many hats at the same time, from business owner to accountant, to creative designer, and so on. It was designed for a solo entrepreneur (like me). I keep all my contacts on this platform, assign projects to them (such as consignment, procedure or sales), and I can add events, notes, and workflows to each one of these projects. 17hats is pretty visual (another tool that got me): besides its functionality, it offers a very pretty design as well. No wonder that freelance photographers like it so much!
The annual subscription costs $299 (or it did when I purchased it several years ago), but it seems that they are always offering special deals and I end up paying less by grabbing on to those pretty awesome offers. The good news is that if you started with a certain amount, that will be your lifetime locked-in amount; that is, you never need to pay more – even if they make updates (and they do) – but you are still eligible to take advantage of their special discounts from time to time.
If you want to try 17hats, use my referral link to it:
You will get a 10% savings on your annual or higher plan!
If the link is not working or you already have an account, enter my personal referral code under your 17hats My Account in Account Settings and get the 10% savings!
Here is the code:
OK, we have created a website, and we took care of accounting and project management. Now it's time to organize those pretty cool items I am going to sell.
I have been looking for the right inventory app or software, but I was not happy with any of the paid or free versions so far. Instead, I started to play around with Asana, and I found that I can totally personalize my inventory the way I wanted using their boards. Again, it is very visual. I created a project called "Inventory". Then, I created boards within that project, such as Shoes, Accessories, Women's Clothing, Men's Clothing, etc. Then, under each column, I started to add a task. Each task is an item from the store. I personalized a task view, and I added subtasks, such as description, size, original price, suggested price, sold on, net sales, and so on. I use tags to see whether I already listed the item or it still needs to have some work. I also added a photograph to the item, so when I open the project, I am able to quickly see the different pieces and get a fast initial idea of where my inventory stands. Then, I added other projects, such as "Sales," and when an item sells, I just move the task to that project. I really like it, and I always find a way to improve my personal inventory. Probably it's not the fastest way to keep track of your items, and you will need to do some brainstorming and playing around to develop your own version, but I think it's worth it. Oh, I forgot to mention, this is still Asana's free plan...
The next on my list is Evernote. Probably many of you know this super practical, talented note keeping online platform. Evernote allows you to create and save just about anything you want. Creating a marketing pitch, having a copy of my return policy, keeping monthly budget overviews all in one place: that is Evernote for me. And yes, I add my email logins and the credentials to my social sites, because I often forget them.
Evernote is simple to use, and it is quite impressive, especially the web version. They offer a free plan, but I use their Premium Plan which is $69.99/year. With this, I receive 10 GB uploads per month (which I hardly ever use), but I don't mind paying them because I like the other features of the platform and keep virtually everything organized under my notebooks and notes. Also, if I need to send some files over to a friend, I simply upload them in Evernote and just share the note. That way, all my documents remain in one place so I don't need to look for them on my computer, and I can keep the conversation as long as I need to.
If you want to get started with Evernote, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can refer you to them. In this way, you will receive a one month of free Premium Plan!
5. Tailor Brands
Now that we set up an inventory, it's time to work on branding. I use Tailor Brands to create a logo for my business. It's very easy and intuitive, and I am satisfied with the final results for Atrium Anna's logo. Besides creating a logo, they offer you a landing page, a watermarking tool, and social media content design. I am using their Premium Plan right now, which includes a one-time purchase of the logo I created, and as well as access to a few very nice features. In the future, I may upgrade to their paid versions and eventually can get to printing Atrium Anna's logo on my poly-mailers, business cards, and flyers.
Now that we have created awesome watermarked photos of the items in the shop, let's add a little extra to each listing. Sizely is an online template site where you can find 120+ clothing and accessories and other templates. You find the right template, take measurements of the clothes you want to sell, enter them into the template, save it and upload it to your shop. Your customers will appreciate the visual overview, and you don't need to type each time inches, and numbers...
Sizely is easy to use and gave a professional touch to my clothing business. The free plan includes only a few templates but for $84/year, you get access to 130+ templates, from blazers to button-down shirts to sunglasses to platforms.
Here is the referral code to purchase your own subscription.
A present favorite is Loomly. Loomly is a brand-new social media management system. It lets you create social posts under one platform, and it helps you optimize each post. You can then schedule them to your various accounts, and can even start having conversations and interactions with followers, all without needing to leave their site. Loomly is also very visual and the navigation is very easy on the page. Since I started to use Loomly, I feel like my life has changed. (Actually, I pretty much felt this with all the above-mentioned tools:)).
The good thing about these new platforms that they are still improving and constantly adding new features without asking you to pay for the minor updates. The plan I am using right now is the Solo (I am a “solopreneur”) for $12/month with their annual subscription. But just today I decided that I will try their brand-new next plan (the Base Plan), which includes a community management system and another user. In other words, you can simply hire someone else to take care of your marketing on social media while monitoring what they are doing and interfering if you need to. I really like this tool, and I highly recommend everyone to give it a try.
Here is my referral link to Loomly subscription:
You will save 20% off from your purchased plan.
After a year in business, and with an excited fan who “subscribed” to my newsletters without even seeing one, I realized that it was time to start a regular newsletter updating my customers about new products, sales, special offers and much more. While Wix has some automation, and I use it to send thank you notes or notifications to my customers when they buy something, for heavier content and for my most loyal people, I use MailChimp to create beautiful email campaigns. I am rather new with it and still find it a bit difficult, but it certainly looks promising. The best thing is that this tool also offers a free plan with many, many features which will probably be enough for me, at least for another year.
Square is also one my favorites. It’s a point of sale website where you can accept credit card payments either by using their mini card reader or by entering the credit card number manually. The basic plan is free, and that is what I am using right now. The interface is very intuitive and user-friendly, and there are many ways you can easily set up your merchant account with them. You can connect your online store (Etsy for instance) to it or add products manually. This tool is really a life saver when you want to sell occasionally at markets or bazaars. If you mainly sell at physical locations, you may want to upgrade to their complete, paid version. Either way, this tool is a must and will give a professional look to your business.
They also work with referrals. When you activate a Square account through my referral link, you will receive free processing on up to $1,000 in sales.
Here is my referral link to Square:
A final tool worthy of mention is Avery, which is designed to create business cards, postcards, stickers, and other fun business tools. The website and their design are free, but you need to purchase their Avery templates to be able to print your things out. It's easy to create stunning and simple business cards, invitation cards, or promotional items for my business. I print my own at home, but you can send it to them and they will take care of it for you professionally.
That concludes my 11 essential online tools for running a small online vintage clothing store. I hope I was able to help you a bit getting ready and getting organized with your first steps on opening your online store. And don't worry: if these things don't work for you, try something else and personalize your business to reflect and suit you.
And the results? See it yourself: Atrium Anna online luxury consignment.