Starting a lingerie business requires merchandise or a drop-shipping arrangement and a website from which to sell. For people with little website design experience, a turnkey website is a quick solution. Turnkey websites are ready to go "out-of-the-box." You will have a website host, shopping pages and checkout system provided as part of the deal. Depending on your website name and the amount of inventory you plan to stock, a lingerie business might require a relatively small startup investment.
Complete the process of registering your business federally and locally. For information on specific state requirements, visit the Small Business Administration website. You may need to register your business name with the state, obtain an employer identification number through the IRS, register with the state tax revenue agency and obtain licenses and permits. By officially registering your business with the government, you have the benefit of claiming startup costs as deductions on your taxes. It is also required by law.
Purchase a turnkey website. A turnkey website is one that is fully functional at the time of purchase. In most cases, you will have a host and installed shopping cart included in the purchase price. Make sure the name is compatible with the lingerie theme. The price depends on whether you want your site completely customized or template-based. Pay attention to whether the site is e-commerce-based, drop-ship-based or affiliate-based, as the difference impacts functionality and purpose. An e-commerce site generally means you will purchase and ship merchandise yourself. Drop-shipping websites allow you to take customer orders that are filled by outside companies. Affiliate websites send customers to another website to complete the purchase, and you receive a commission from sales.
Much like a brick-and-mortar lingerie retailer, an online shop needs products to sell. Purchase lingerie from a wholesaler if you are running an e-commerce lingerie site. Run an online search for wholesale lingerie. Be wary of companies claiming to be wholesalers but requiring no large discounts or proof that you are a business. Some types of sites appeal to consumers looking for a "wholesale" bargain. True wholesale sites will often require customers to provide a federal tax ID number to access wholesale prices. Be sure and purchase a variety of lingerie in different styles, colors and the broadest range of sizes. Customers love selection.
Since customers can't see your products in person, you must provide sufficient details about them. Post photographs and product descriptions to your website. With a turnkey website, you will have a pre-established catalog of stock photos that you need to customize with real products. If possible, include different views of each product. Hire models to model the clothing or check with your wholesalers to find out if you can re-use the photos on your website. Include as much product description as possible, including materials, features, care instructions and sizing information.
Make your site "live" and start selling. You can set the site to be viewable to customers through your host. Establish a Facebook fan page, offer contests and advertise your new business.
Tips & Warnings
If you are considering a turnkey affiliate or drop-shipping website, conduct careful research on the companies with which you are doing business.