Like any other business, starting a fashion eCommerce site is exciting and challenging. After all the hard work spent on market research, strategy and sourcing, you want to make sure your website is an extension of your brand that suits your needs and presents your products in a polished, user-friendly way!

However, we often see new fashion business owners fall into one of two traps:

1)   They quickly create something inexpensive and very basic, taking a ‘set and forget’ approach. The result is a website with poor user experience (UX) that doesn’t align with their overall brand.

2)   They feel they need to make something large and complex, which takes months to launch, has too many features and costs the earth!

Now we don’t want you to fall into either of these categories, but we’ll assure you it’s easy to do! Luckily we’ve partnered with fashion eCommerce agency Playtime Group to share everything you need to know before starting your eCommerce journey.

Why planning is so important

You want your eCommerce store to be a true extension of your brand, with customers easily navigating your product range and purchasing hassle-free.

It seems simple, right? Yet many fashion brands end up with a confusing website that may look ‘chic’ but is a nightmare to actually purchase products from! When you’re building your own eCommerce store, it’s vital to know what you
do want, and what you don’t want!

Identifying features and functionality

A great first step to get the creative ideas flowing is to visit other fashion brand eCommerce stores and take note of their structure and functionality. How are their products displayed? Is it easy to find what you’re looking for and put it in the shopping cart? How about finding crucial contact information about their business, and submitting an enquiry?

A good exercise is to visit a minimum of 10 websites for brands you feel have a similar target audience to your own, as well as larger brands with bigger online stores to look at the ‘gold standard’. Pretend you’re a customer and think of a general product they would likely stock (Ie. ‘mid-length dress, size 10’). Make it your mission to see how easily you can find a product that fits this description, and if successful, place it in your cart.

Start a spreadsheet and rate each website from 1 (poor) to 10 (great) in the following areas: Design, User Experience (ease of navigation, search functionality) Features, Site Speed and Device-friendliness (try using the site on your computer and your phone to see how the experience compares). You should also add in some notes around features you like (ie. Instagram feed, full-bleed banners, recommended products)

Once you know what you want (and don’t want) for your site, you should feel comfortable creating basic ‘wireframes’ showing the proposed site structure.

Creating wireframes

The word ‘wireframes’ can conjure complex diagrams and software that’s very ‘techy’! However, you don’t need to be a developer to create simple wireframes for your website – all you need is a notepad and a pen! If you can draw a square, you can create wireframes.

Start by identifying the main pages you’d require for your website – Homepage, About Us, Products (will you have specific pages for different kinds of products?) Contact etc. Break the squares up into ‘modules’ of content – maybe you’d want your Instagram feed displayed at the bottom of your Homepage, or an enquiry form on your Contact page. It’s good to get the simple stuff out in the open to get your head around what you’ll actually be creating, how the pages will link to each other, and the ‘deal-breaker’ features you’d want from day 1.

Selecting the right platform

Now you have an idea around the features and structure for your eCommerce store, you can use this information to identify the platform that’s right for you. It’s important to remember your business needs may change – and you don’t want to have to start again from scratch! You don’t need to have all the ‘bells and whistles’ on your site from day 1, but knowing whether the platform you use has capabilities to add additional features and expansions over time is very important.

You’ve probably heard of names like Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce and BigCommerce, but do you know the differences between them? Fashion eCommerce agency Playtime Group have outlined the differences between each platform, including recommendations around whether they’d be right for you and your business.

If you’re going to engage a professional developer to build your website, make sure you show them your wireframes and some good example sites from your previous research. A skilled developer will let you know what’s achievable for your budget, and what could be added later.

The good news for you is Playtime Group have designed a Shopify Startup Package specially for new fashion brands to build a hassle-free online store. They’re also offering a 20% exclusive discount for members of our ‘Start Your Fashion Business’ Online Programme and 10% discount for our readers offered until 31 January 2019*. So get in quick and start the new year off with a beautiful eCommerce store!

Let’s make the fashion business, YOUR business!

Blog Contributor The Playtime Group is a fashion eCommerce agency specialised in Magento, BigCommerce, WooCommerce and Shopify Development. Their services are trusted by Australian fashion names including White Runway, JETS and The PAS Group.

*20% exclusive discount for Fashion Equipped clients and 10% discount for readers offered until 31 January 2019.