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How to get traffic to your clothing store

7:02 am on Dec 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I am building an online store or two for clothing. Any tips on how to get traffic? What are some main ways to get traffic/sales. Here is what I think so far:

1) Do good on-site SEO. Hope to get high ranking for specific terms over time.
2) Submit to shop aggregator sites and product feed to google.
3) CCP, specificly google adwords.

Not sure about OFF-SITE SEO. Mainly getting links. Most of the SEO stuff I've read is for blogs, ebooks, etc, but not clothing retail. They talk about writing articles and asking people to link to your site. It doesn't really seem practical or do-able for clothing retail. If anyone has actually done that, I would be interested to hear how it worked.

As far as getting links to my site, I end up just hoping that the first three things I listed will get a lot of customers over time, might post a few links here and there on the web.

Any thoughts?

1:40 pm on Dec 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Clothing is more or less commodity, so you probably need to build a brand name to attend some niche audience.

You are probably in a good position to associate your brand name with some "mental value" by writing and distributing e-books and commenting on shopping-related(?) blogs.

Just hoping never worked for me :-(

7:41 pm on Dec 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Not into clothing, but I imagine it is very overcrowded
I am trying banner ads to drive visitors to my site.
I had not heard of shop aggregators - but they sound good.
There must be thousands of small on line shops, especially wit the exodus of sellers from ebay. That all need to get exposure.
7:14 am on Dec 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Affiliates will link to your site. Have you considered that avenue?

Can you make your own brand for the items? Brand name searches are easier to rank for that terms like "t-shirt"

Adwords will get expensive too - unless you have a super narrow niche I would suggest other means.

2:59 pm on Dec 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I would recommend some shopping feeds. Amazon, Froogle/Googlebase, shop, etc... Those should generate some sales and traffic to your site.

Since you are doing SEO as well and clothing, have you thought about writing comparisons of products? Comparing the quality of certain brands to others, product comparisons, that kind of thing. That would go a long way for your SEO and makes for some interesting content.

9:27 am on Dec 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Interesting replies guys.

Regarding brand name. I wonder if that would be beneficial even for a small time retailer. At the moment, I can only order small orders from my suppliers, so I don't think it's possible to get tags with my brand name sewn into the clothing, but once I start placing larger orders, I think I could do that.

Regarding affiliates. I'm not sure how that works. Get other to link to my site and I pay them a % of sales they generate? That's interesting, although I am not sure who the affiliates would be and how to find them. Or would they find me?

Regarding writing comparisons or articles. I want to do that. I'll have to think of something to actually write about and where to put it on the web. Will probably be easier to brainstorm once I actually get the store online full of products.

3:01 pm on Dec 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member essex_boy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

niche audience- Thats the key, find non main stream fashion items I ran a store selling hippy based tie dye clothing, honestly I wouldnt have been able to compete with the larger stores if id have been selling jeans etc
4:54 pm on Dec 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I'll be blunt. Your chances of succeeding with that business plan are virtually nil.

At the moment, I can only order small orders from my suppliers

Sounds hopelessly inefficient. You'll pay the highest prices. What will you do with the huge numbers of returned garments you'll get? About 6 years ago Walmart discussed selling clothing online and said they sold a ton of clothing but the the returns sapped almost all the profit.

Yes, you have to go niche, but virtually every online niche is filled. So are niches of niches!

Failing Brick/mortar clothing retailers, virtually all of whom have years of experience and better buying power than you, are rushing to build websites. If for no other reason, they're going online to dump their excess inventory cheaply.

I know two brainy young MBAs who are attempting to open an online niche clothing site and are failing terribly after 3 months live. (still early I know).

Their site is pretty good; they did everything very cheaply (rare for MBAs). But typical of MBAs they've attempted to differentiate their new site with a cookbook of faddish gimmicks. Like free returns and virtually free shipping. (Zappos stuff) The use the social networks that are so du jour: Twitter, Facebook and more.

They just misunderstood the difficulty of trying to shoe horn into an over-saturated niche. And I suspect they misunderstood the meager benefits and huge cost of Zappos-type gimmicks.

5:12 pm on Dec 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Wow Jsinger !

You actually put that very well.
That is what is wrong with the whole world today.
Everyone wants to "make money online" and is starting up a business on the web, yet they do not realise that there is only so much money to go around. We can't all make money online !
There are also lots of ebay people, upset with ebay starting up their own websites, some of those will be experienced with selling clothes on line.

2:08 am on Dec 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Regarding affiliates. I'm not sure how that works. Get other to link to my site and I pay them a % of sales they generate? That's interesting, although I am not sure who the affiliates would be and how to find them. Or would they find me?

Yes, you pay them a % of the sale typically. You could setup a cart with affilate software built in or use a third party service like Shareasale. Shareasale will help you get affiliates - how productive they will be is another question.

As for your niche of niches - what are you passionate about? What would you spend months blogging about for no profit, because you have so much passion for it? What have you spend the last five years arguing about in a discussion forum? Because you will be working for many, many, many months (for nothing) to make a go of the site, and if you don't have passion for it then you WILL fail. Of course, the opposite is true too--- if you are the go-to person on the internet for Alternative Japanese Country/Western Goth clothing (or similar niche) then you might have a chance.

7:35 am on Dec 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Clothing and a few other sectors are so over crowded online that it is going to be extremely difficult to get noticed. Probably the only thing worse is gift baskets. "...Results 1 - 10 of about 15,300,000 for gift baskets..."

JSinger is mostly right - though I would not agree that all niches are totally filled. Well, they might be filled, but not all of them have a decent website. There is still opportunity out there, it is just harder to find.

1:50 am on Dec 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

I know nothing about clothing, but I would think the more you get away from simply retailing, and the more you get into your own brand and products, the better chance you have. That at least gets you out of the crowd and somewhere on the stage. I think there's always room for a new buzz. So much about what I see in successful sites with stuff like that, comes down to style.
2:22 pm on Dec 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Without branded products, you're entering a much bigger and tougher crowd... the world of Asian discount apparel (insert just about any other product field).

If you think your little clothing site is going to generate "buzz" then you've probably read too many of those 1999 books on web marketing (think Superbowl ads or doggie sock puppets). We have a decently profitable site but frankly it never occurs to me that much of our business comes from anything that could be remotely defined as "buzz." We only get a bit of business from what used to be called "word of mouth advertising."

Hey, having octuplets only gets you buzz until some idiot announces his kid is floating around in a balloon.

7:03 am on Jan 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

you can try using social media such as Facebook and Twitter to build your brand. Build up an email distrobution list and send them out deals and specails. Also list your products via datafeeds to all the shopping portals such as Google products, Bing, SortPrice and Shopping.
2:55 pm on Jan 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Interesting comments, guys. And some discouraging comments too :(

I wonder if a small store could make enough profit just from shop aggregators and google product feed. Then any back links from bloggers or whatever would just be an SEO bonus.

Facebook and Twitter is another angle, as jleigh mentioned. I wonder how useful that would be for a small shop. I'll have to look more into that when the time comes.

5:13 pm on Jan 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

"I wonder how useful that would be for a small shop."

I was just looking last night at the twitter pages of many of our competitors who, like us, jumped on that bandwagon in '09. Most posted a few times, perhaps offered a discount coupon to test response and then stopped posting altogether on twitter a few months ago.

Might work if you have a product with a "social" hook to it. Say, a hobby. But few products engender such a following. Does anyone really want to "follow" a seller of toilet seats, for example?

As a geezer, I should add that i'm totally dismayed by the Twitter thing. And my kids are too.

8:47 pm on Jan 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Jsinger's point is right on, and it's the biggest mistake that businesses who think social media is going to help them keep making.

Unless your product is something that people want to follow, THEY AREN'T GOING TO FOLLOW IT. People don't log on to social media sites to shop, they log on to socialize. Products like magicJack and netTALK can be successful in social media because they're techy products that people LIKE, and like to talk about. But for most retailers selling a variety of stuff, ask yourself... is anyone really going to be passionate enough about the junk you're selling to want to talk about it or follow up and see what else you have?

For some businesses the answer is yes... but for most, the answer is no. A client of mine (against my advice) spent a few grand with a company that promised them the world in social media. This company offered to create and maintain facebook, twitter, etc. The client was selling deeply discounted one-season-off Prada/Fendi/Gucci/other high-end designer brands (the genuine stuff, not the knock-offs) and wanted to reach out to that audience. So they paid the money, and ... nothing happened.

Why? Well, basically for the exact reason I told them it wouldn't work. If you're the type of person who is buying those luxury brands, it's not because they actually look better than anything else out there, it's because of the name and the prestige/snob factor that goes with it. So why, if this is you, would you want to broadcast to everyone that you're buying them at 30 cents on the dollar from a wholesaler? You wouldn't ... because you don't want anyone to know.

When they finally understood it and focused on their internal SEO instead of wasting time fooling around with social media their business started to increase. Why the concept of "Lets do everything we can to reach people who are SEARCHING TO SPEND MONEY ON EXACTLY WHAT WE SELL" constantly loses to "Lets try to reach people who are online to talk to their friends in a back-door way" is beyond me, but new online retailers make that mistake every day.

Use their oversight to your advantage. Optimize your site for search engines, and get your products in every product feed you can find. It doesn't make any sense at all to try and reach people who "might" be interested in what you're selling, but probably aren't, when there are so many ways of putting your products in front of people who are actually LOOKING FOR THEM.

2:33 am on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

To promote your clothing store you need to get the word to the people you want to come to your place of business. But give your users the tools. Get a tell-a-friend script <snip>. Some even go as far as giving incentives to those who recommend the site to their friends. Also add your customers to a mailing list. The customers can then be sent coupons, email blasts, announcements of new inventory and other material that will promote the store.

[edited by: lorax at 2:45 am (utc) on Jan. 13, 2010]
[edit reason] removed url [/edit]


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