How to Know If Your Apparel Brand Will Sell Online

Your concept for an online clothes shop may be fabulous on paper, but how many people do you think are willing to pay for your product? Are they enough to keep you in business? To find the answers, you can conduct an idea validation experiment.

Idea validation is a process that lets you find out if there’s a product-market fit. It can minimize the risk of investing money on mass-producing a product — such as clothing line — and developing an e-commerce site that the market is not ready for. Moreover, this process can help you tweak your designs into something that’s more salable before you go full throttle with your clothing or apparel product development strategies.

You don’t have to be a marketing graduate to do this. And you can do a lean version that doesn’t cost a penny. You just need to flesh out your business idea and design concepts, build a prototype (or prototypes), collect prospective customers’ feedback, and analyze the results.

Describe your business idea and build a prototype

Describe your business concept in detail and identify which ideas you want to test. As you describe your idea through words and images, you may find more questions than answers. That’s okay. All you want are enough details for you to be able to create a design prototype or mock-up that you can test on your target customers.

Consider describing the following:

  1. Your prospective customers
  2. The problem or need in the market that your product will solve
  3. How your product’s unique features are the solution to the customers’ problem
  4. How much it will cost
  5. Your business model

As you write things down, focus on the most critical features of your clothing line.

Test your prototype

Social network user login, website mock up on computer screen

Find out if your target customers are willing to pay for your product by conducting surveys and interviews. You can do this personally or digitally via Facebook, Quora, chat, and email.

Spot potential customers and ask them for a one-on-one interview. This can be in person or via chat. Discover what they have to say and see if these can help improve your product or your marketing strategy. Ask them why they would buy or not buy your product and at what price range. Ask them also if they will buy it if you tweaked it a bit. The key is to keep your ears open to what people want.

Tweak and test again

Why did your friend want underwear pockets? Do you think there are more people who would like them? Which of the insights during your surveys and interviews could you use to improve your product design? Apply them and then do another round until you’re satisfied.

Reap the benefits with caution

People liking your product or saying that they will buy it is not always a guarantee that they will. Sometimes, friends do so out of courtesy while others are simply hasty with their answers. Like any business, there’s no risk-free way to start an online fashion store.

Nevertheless, risks can be minimized if you’ll first validate your business concept by writing it down, creating and testing a prototype or mock-up, and tweaking your designs for a better product-market fit.

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