Retail Management 101: How to Get Inventory for an Online Store


Running an online clothing store is a great way to have a retail business without the overhead costs of a traditional brick and mortar operation. Unless you plan to make inventory for your online clothing store, you will need to source clothing from wholesalers and other designers. We’ll show you how to do just that in this guide on how to get inventory for your online store.

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How To Get Inventory For An Online Store: Where To Buy Wholesale Clothing

If you want to know how to start an online store, one of the first things you will need to do after writing your clothing store business planis source inventory. If you are looking to go the wholesale route to source your clothing, there are three main routes you can take: attending trade shows, working with online wholesalers, and working directly with manufacturers.

1. Clothing wholesale trade shows

Attending a trade show is a great way to get inventory for an online store, as you can touch the fabrics, see the quality of the clothes, and network with brands and suppliers while you’re at it.

Keep in mind that most trade shows require you to prove that you are a fashion shopper, such as uploading a business card or sharing your job title and company name when signing up.

Some of the most popular shows for wholesale clothing are:

  • Agenda– Hosted in Las Vegas twice a year and showcasing over 1,000 brands, Agenda specializes in street wear display and provides an educational and supportive community for designers and buyers.
  • American CraftFor shop owners looking to stock up on handcrafted clothing, accessories, and gifts, attending American Handcraft in Philadelphia is a must.
  • RATING– COAST is Miami’s premier fashion show and is held four times a year. This jury exhibition features a curated collection of established and emerging designers.
  • COTERIE– This show connects the best brands in women’s fashion, including clothing, accessories and footwear, with buyers from around the world in New York and online. COTERIE also hosts an annual show dedicated to swimwear and resort wear in Miami.
  • Designers and agents– Designers & Agents presents a selection of 300 designers each season in New York and Los Angeles.
  • MAGIC– This wholesale fair specializes in exhibiting the latest trends in contemporary clothing for women and men. They have shows several times a year in different locations in the United States including New York, Las Vegas, and Nashville.
  • Pure London– This London-based fashion show showcases clothing brands for women, men and children twice a year.

2. Clothing wholesale sites

If traveling to a salon is not an option for you, you can also purchase clothing through clothing wholesale websites. Buying inventory online will be more hit and miss than attending trade shows because you won’t know the quality of the items until you receive them. To lessen the disappointment, see if the wholesalers offer samples.

Just like with trade shows, you will need to prove that you are a fashion shopper to gain access to inventory and wholesale prices.

Check out these wholesale clothing websites to get started:

  • COTERIE– The popular fair also has an online shopping platform.
  • Los Angeles Showroom– This online wholesaler sells a wide variety of clothing for women, men, children, shoes, beauty products and accessories.
  • Mode Go– FashionGo has been around for almost 20 years, offering everything from kids’ clothing to trendy fragrances for women. The wholesaler even has a revolutionary tool that makes it easy to find images in their catalog based on similar products you find elsewhere on the web.
  • Magnolia Fashion Wholesaler– This Miami-based wholesaler specializes in contemporary women’s clothing and offers delivery to 80 countries.

Maintaining a list of online wholesalers is an important part of learning how to start an online store. Keep in mind that many salons are also offering online shopping platforms or virtual salons due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

3. Work with manufacturers

Instead of working with wholesalers, you can also work directly with manufacturers to get inventory for your online store. If you find products you like in other online stores, look for a manufacturer or brand name in the product description. Then research the brand and, if possible, contact them directly to see if they have wholesale prices.

How to control wholesale suppliers

Investing in inventory with a new supplier can seem daunting. Take these steps to make sure you are working with reputable wholesalers and manufacturers:

  1. Ask for references from the supplier, then contact the references and ask them how they like working with the supplier.
  2. Find out if you will be working with a dedicated sales representative. Otherwise, your requests may go under the radar.
  3. Pay attention to the salesperson’s communication style and responsiveness. If they take days to respond to an email and don’t have the answers you need, then you’re likely going to have a frustrating working relationship. If they respond quickly and are organized, then you might consider starting a mutually beneficial partnership.
  4. If possible, visit the supplier’s warehouse or request samples. While you are in the warehouse, observe the organization of the inventory. Smell the products and test the quality.

For more tips, see our guide on how to buy wholesale.

How to store and organize your inventory

Here are some tips that will help you organize, store, and ship your inventory to make your life easier and keep your customers happy.

1. Organize your store’s inventory

The key to a well-organized inventory is creating a system and using software to track inventory, sizes, SKUs, sales, and more.

When using a retail outletwhich has an e-commerce component, such as Speed ​​of light, you can easily upload your inventory to a centralized dashboard. Every time you make a sale, the quantities are automatically updated and you are notified, so you can go straight to the fulfillment process.

2. Storage of your online store inventory

The advantage of running an online store is that you don’t have to rent a storefront. If possible, start your business by storing your inventory at home. When expanding your space, consider renting a warehouse or storage unit.

You will need shelves and bins for home storage. Look for transparent bins that close, so you can easily see your inventory and keep it from getting damaged, wet, or moldy. Consider adding odor eliminators to your bins to keep your inventory fresh.

Create a labeling system for your bins and items. Add SKUs to your ecommerce software and add these labels to your inventory to make them easy to find.

It is important to stay organized. You can develop your own storage system or take inspiration from the web. YouTube is a great resource for inventory storage systems. Watch this video from Empty hangerfor an example of a home storage system, or this video from Jenna jadefor another example of a simple and inexpensive storage system.

3. Shipping inventory

When a customer makes a purchase, your ecommerce software will notify you. Then it’s time to pack and ship the order.

Keep shipping equipmentat hand. Stock up on poly envelopes, boxes, tissue paper, plastic clothing pockets and packing tape.

To save time at the post office, purchase a scale and shipping label printer. Look for execution tools that integrate with your e-commerce softwareto import orders and print labels in bulk, and automatically send customers shipping notifications and tracking information.

How to price your online store

There are several ways to price your online store.

The first strategy, called the key markup, simply involved doubling the wholesale price. This strategy is used throughout the industry. However, it may not give you a sufficient profit margin because it doesn’t factor in your costs (such as labor, shipping, marketing, software, and discounts).

The second method is to use the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), which, as the name suggests, is the price at which the manufacturer recommends that you sell the item. Some manufacturers charge an MSRP, which does not reflect your costs. Other manufacturers are simply offering the MSRP as a suggestion, to help put their retailers on a level playing field.

The third strategy is to use the absorption pricing method, which involves adding up the costs incurred to run your business (including labor, marketing, software, and the cost of your inventory), dividing it by the number of units purchased and adding the margin desired beneficiary.

Conclusion: How to get inventory for an online store

Starting an online store is an exciting opportunity to run a retail business without spending a ton of overhead. Now that you understand how to start an online store, here is a checklist for how to get inventory for your online store:

  • Buy clothes wholesale using one or more of the methods below:
    • Trade fairs
    • Online wholesale sites
    • Work directly with manufacturers
  • Suppliers veterinarian by:
    • Request and contact references
    • Determine if you will be working with a dedicated sales representative
    • Be attentive to the communication style and the responsiveness of the salesperson
    • Visit of the supplier’s warehouse and / or examination of samples
  • Store and organize inventory by:
    • Use e-commerce software to organize your inventory
    • Create a system to store your inventory
    • Purchase shipping supplies and use order processing software that integrates with your e-commerce software to ship orders
  • Set prices using one of the following methods:
    • Keystone method
    • MSRP
    • Absorption pricing method

Are you looking for an ecommerce platform that can take your online store to the next level? Talk to usto learn more about Lightspeed eCommerce.


Lightspeed Commerce Inc. published this content on November 12, 2021 and is solely responsible for the information it contains. Distributed by Public, unedited and unmodified, on November 12, 2021 11:16:20 UTC.


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