As with almost everything in life presentation is the key to success. Many wise men have once said “you only have one chance to make a good first impression” and those wise men were right. Presentation of your product to your customer can be a make or break situation that results in a sale or a missed opportunity.
What exactly makes up the “presentation” when it comes to t-shirts?
Most indie clothing lines are strictly based online and that online only atmosphere comes with a HUGE disadvantage, not being able to touch, feel and try anything on. So the question then becomes how do we turn those negatives into positives?
The key here is creating an online experience for your brand. You must think of your online store just as if you were building a bricks and mortar store for your brand. One of the biggest turn offs and mistakes a clothing company can make is cutting corners when it comes to developing their online store. When a customer comes to your site the first thing they are going to take note of is your website. In the first two seconds a customer is going to decide if they can trust you and if they want to buy from you. The key here is coming off looking as a reputable company and not a fly by night operation. It is completely okay if your working out of your parents basement or do this in your part time with every bit of extra change you can gather, but by no means come across looking like that.
Keys to making your website the best it can be.
BRANDING! Another huge pitfall that indie clothing companies fall into is not creating a recognizable branding image. Quite simply there are just way to many clothing lines out there to do just a mediocre job and succeed. The brands such as Johnny Cupcakes, Ugmonk, Electric Zombie, Glamour Kills and Pyknic all have one thing in common, they are instantly recognizable. Take a second and visit those sites if you haven’t already, those website clearly and effectively reflect a brand image that their shirts portray.
Take quality photographs
A picture is worth a thousand words, and when you are trying to sell products online a picture could be the difference between making money and losing money. As stated before it’s just not possible for a customer to pick up and feel your product through the internet but they can visualize what it would like on them through good pictures. Pictures along with your website can tell a story and create a brand image, so make sure to take that into consideration when you are doing your photo shoot.
I also HIGHLY recommend taking two different sets of product pictures, pictures for your look book and pictures for your store. Look book pictures show your tees or clothing “in the wild” or in everyday situations while shots for your store should be straight on shots that really show the detail of the shirts. Photos for your store should be done against a plain background (I prefer white), as to not distract a customer from what you are trying to sell, the product.
This sounds like a no brainer, but make sure customers can EASILY navigate your site. There is nothing more frustrating for a customer then trying to jump through hoops when making a purchase. Quite simply they wont, if you make something difficult on them they are gone. BigCartel and Storenvy both offer very simple, cheap and customizable solutions for setting up a web store.
BUT ISN’T THAT EXPENSIVE?
You have to spend money to make money, but you also don’t have to be stupid about how you spend your money. Ask around, use social avenues such as Twitter and Facebook to help strike deals. Maybe you aren’t a pro photographer but ask some of your friends. Chances are that if you ask around someone is bound to know someone that can take decent pictures and most likely for free or on the cheap just for recognition.
Also using storefronts such as BigCartel and Storenvy can be done for extremely cheap or nothing at all. But by no means just sign up for a cart, slap your logo on it and call it a day. If you cant afford someone to design you a custom theme there are several sites that offer pre-created themes for $150 and under.
As I started this out article out with, you only have one chance to make a good first impression. I get several emails everyday from clothing companies asking me to check them out and their website and presentation is usually what makes me run for safety or investigate further and there is no reason not to think customers aren’t the same way.