An online fabric store can increase profits for anyone with a traditional brick-and-mortar fabric store. Why limit yourself to local sales when you could be selling to the world? It can also be a fun business to start from scratch if you have a passion for fabric and sewing. Fabric is a hot niche right now due to the renaissance of traditional arts, such as quilting, and an increased do-it-yourself ethic, which makes it a perfect online business. Additionally, the online shopping software available today makes it easy to set up a store and sell online.
Choose a domain name for your store. The domain name should reflect both what you are selling and be search engine optimised---meaning it can be found easily when someone searches for a particular term. For example, try naming your fabric store DiscountVintageFabrics.com rather than MarysFunFiber.com. This way, when someone searches for "discount fabrics" or "vintage fabrics," your site is more likely to appear.
Purchase web-hosting for your store. Choose a web host that has a free installation of shopping trolley software. See the Resources for one such web host, DreamHost. Install the shopping trolley software, and follow the instructions for set-up.
Set up a business account with PayPal so that you can accept online payments from major credit cards.
Purchase inventory for your online fabric store. See the Resources for a list of fabric wholesalers.
Take clear photos of each fabric that you will be selling. Include a ruler at the bottom of each printed fabric so that the customer will be able to see how large the print is. Upload the photos to your online store.
Write concise descriptions of the fabric you are selling. Include the exact fabric content (e.g., 45 per cent cotton, 50 per cent polyester, 5 per cent spandex) as well as the width of the fabric. Include words and phrases that will help you sell the fabric, such as "luxurious," "fanciful" and "elegant."
Write a shipping and returns policy, and post it on your site. According to Big Commerce, giving customers a long period in which to return items will increase sales, as it decreases your customer's sense of risk. Be sure to include what shipping carriers you will use, when you ship items and how items can be tracked.
Dedicate a portion of your store to free online patterns, projects and other items of interest that will entice customers to come to your store repeatedly. Include articles about the projects, different types of fabrics and anything else related to your store, as this will increase the visibility of your store in the search engines.
To make your store stand out among the plethora of online retailers, consider choosing a specialised niche, such as industrial fabrics, quilters "fat quarters" or vintage fabrics.