This is part 2 of the Fashion Startup Checklist. A series of 21 steps dedicated to helping you launch your fashion brand as smartly and efficiently as possible.
Now that you’ve got your concept more or less figured out, it’s time to test it with market research and smart planning. This is the stage where you figure out if your plan is actually going to work and how to make it happen.
Why Do The Market Research
Let’s think about this logically. Whatever your concept is, you’re going to have to turn it into a product and sell it. That much is a fact.
Another fact is that you’re going to have to – at least eventually – sell it at a profit.
With that in mind, you now need to figure out exactly what you’re going to sell and how you’re going to sell it.
A lot of people – most people really – who are starting out first think about how to do it with a minimal level of commitment. Their first question to us is almost always, “What’s your minimum order quantity?”
Don’t get me wrong, it makes sense why this gets asked. But, there’s something fundamentally self-defeating about this question when it comes to a startup. The question shouldn’t be, what’s the minimum you can get? It should be, how many do you need?
If you’re trying to do this thing professionally, I’m going to assume that you want this to be your job. And, if you want to get paid for living your dream, you need to take a hard look at the finances. If, for example, you need to earn $5000 a month to make this sustainable, and you have a helper earning $4000 a month, then you will need to CLEAR at least $9000 per month to make it work. If your brand is paying $25 for a bikini set you then sell for $100… you need to be selling 120 units per month. Right?
But wait! What about shipping, overhead, returns and all the other costs of running your business? Those may take another 25% off the top. So now you need to sell 180 units in order to pay yourself what you need to survive.
And… stick with me here…
If it takes 6 months for you to reorder your goods, you’re going to need to order over 1000 units, just to meet your goals. So instead of focusing on the MOQ, you really need to focus on your financial goals instead. Then you’ll come to us saying, “Hey, I need a minimum of 1000 units every 6 months.
That’s just reality. Don’t fight it. Instead, focus on how you’re going to make it happen. Once you know what you’ll be selling, and how many you’ll need to sell, you’ve got to start thinking about how you’ll sell it.
How to Do The Market Research
How you sell really depends on you and your unique set of circumstances. I’m guessing that you have a reason you’re doing this. You probably have a special talent, or area of expertise, that will help you. It could be that you’re a number cruncher, a marketer, a celebrity, or maybe you have special knowledge of a niche opportunity or an underserved market.
Take FULL advantage of those.
The first thing you need to understand is the demand. How big is it? Where is it? How are people buying this product?
Then you’ve got to consider how you’re going to reach them. The old saying in real estate, “location, location, location”, also applies in retail. In order to sell anything, you need to put it in front of people. If it’s online, you need traffic. If it’s via social media, you also need traffic. If it’s in traditional retail stores….
It all boils down to traffic, doesn’t it? So how do you get the traffic?
The first and best resource to do your market research is Google. Use Google’s tools and try to find out what is the volume of search traffic for your items. Talk to retailers. Try to understand how, why & where the products move.
If you’re selling online, you need to be adept at online marketing. If you’re selling on social, you need to be adept at social media marketing. If you want to wholesale or open a retail store… you get the picture.
The important thing here is to learn EVERYTHING you can about the market you’re selling IN and the customer you’re selling TO.
If you’re intimidated by this stuff, the best solution is to hire someone who knows what they’re doing to do it for you. The Target Market Report from Prototype, for example, is a great way to get in-depth keyword research done for you and gives you actionable insights. We’d love to help you out!