Retail and fashion: online or in store?

6th November 2015

The biggest question any would be fashion retailer must consider is whether their shop-front should be on the high street or online.

This blog explores the differences between selling in store or on the web.

The benefits of selling fashion online

  • don't have to find a suitably located property
  • don't have to pay rent or a mortgage, for utilities, business rates, building insurance or for building repairs
  • your shop can be global depending on where you want to ship your products
  • easily expand your geographic reach at a later date simply by adding countries you can ship products to
  • updating a website or online store is much quicker and cheaper than revamping a physical shop
  • add product lines without worrying about display or storage space
  • add product lines quickly and easily and rapidly respond to buying trends
  • stay in touch with your customers via email and newsletters and publicise new lines and 'flash sales' at the click of a button.

The benefits of selling fashion from a physical store

  • customers believe that buying wrong sizes or substandard items is less likely to occur if they can see and try one clothes in shop
  • returning items to a physical shop is usually easier
  • customers often enjoy interaction with shop owners and staff when purchasing clothes
  • easier to 'upsell' i.e. accessories and additional items person-to-person
  • easier to create brand loyalty when you meet your customers in person
  • there can be less competition when selling from an actual shop.  There are hundreds of thousands of online fashion retailers - getting people to visit a website can be harder than attracting them to a traditional shop. 

How much does it cost to sell fashion online?

The overheads for selling fashion online are less than selling fashion from a physical shop. The main financial outlay is on the construction and design of the website and shipping products.

However, the cost of a retail website is not as cheap as many people imagine. It can run into thousands or tens of thousands of pounds depending on the site features.

Online retailers are subject to the same tax and VAT as any other retailers and the same employment, fraud and sale of goods laws and regulations.

The phenomenal success of virtual fashion retailers such as ASOS, net-a-porter and would indicate that online is the way to go.

However, many designers and brands also have physical shops where their customers can see, feel and buy into the brand identity.

We help fashion retailers of all sizes manage and improve their businesses.

If you are considering setting up your own fashion retail business talk to us about your options.

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