Essential Software for Your Fashion Start – Up
With three-quarters of venture-backed start-ups destined to fail, entrepreneurs need to use every tool that’s available to them to give their small businesses the best chance of success. Fashion start-ups are entering a flourishing, albeit highly competitive, market, which means that while they have a fighting chance of staying afloat, they need to make a considerable effort to stand out from their competitors. This means a lot of planning and hard work has to take place, which can put a considerable strain on a business owner trying to shoulder this responsibility alone.
If you’ve recently launched a fashion start-up, then there are a whole host of tools that could be lightening your workload and helping you to deliver a higher quality of service to your customers. Regardless of whether you’re an eCommerce website or a small high street shop, software is an essential investment that will save you time in the long run. Here are some types of software that every fashion start-up can benefit from:
Accounting and payroll
While not the most glamorous part of running a business, you’ll struggle to stay afloat if you don’t manage your finances correctly. In the past, entrepreneurs have had to make tax and VAT calculations themselves. Most business owners have relied upon spreadsheets and have faced consequences when their computers have failed or they mistyped the number from a recent invoice. Accounting software takes all of this stress out of the equation and allows entrepreneurs to focus on what’s important. Not only will you be reducing your risk of human error, but you’ll be automating a painstaking process for very little cost.
If you’re investing in an accounting package, it’s worth adding small company payroll software into the mix as well. Whilst in the initial stages you probably won’t have many staff, as the employees you do latterly hire as you grow mean you will need to accurately manage their payroll affairs such as tax, NI and pension contributions. Paying employees accurately can become surprisingly complicated without the right tools, especially when adding holiday pay or sick pay into the mix.
Design and photo editing
Depending on how creative/technical you are as an individual, you might need to outsource some of your design/photo editing work to a freelance professional. However, if you do have the technical skills yourself then there are a number of software packages that will help with your creations:
- Design software: A classic all-rounder is Adobe Illustrator, which can be used for creating logos and artwork as well as textile designs. If you have a background in graphic design, you may already know how to use this software. However, if you’re looking for something a bit more fashion specific, consider investing in Digital Fashion Pro, Browzwear or Optitex. You may find that you’ll end up using a combination of different software to perfect your designs and patterns.
- Fashion photography editing: It doesn’t matter if you’re going to be making or buying in the clothes you sell – you’ll still need to take professional photographs and edit the images before posting them online. Two of the best photo editing systems out there are Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom. They come with a comprehensive selection of tools and there are lots of tutorials online that can help you to create the effects that you want. If you’re looking for more basic photo editing, stick with Lightroom, but if you’re feeling adventurous and feel confident using editing software, branch out and try out Photoshop.
- General marketing designs: Of course, like any business, your fashion company is going to need visual marketing materials. While you can hire an expert to create these for you, there are accessible tools out there that will let you take control of your Instagram posts, website headers and e-mail newsletter layouts. Canva is one of these tools, offering thousands of free templates to its users. You can upgrade to premium if you wish, but many businesses are able to find everything they need on Canva’s free version.
While you might be able to manage your fashion business’s inventory in the early stages, you’ll soon struggle to keep track of all the clothes coming in as your start-up grows. Inventory management software can help you to better fulfil customer orders and visualise your cash flow. While it might not seem like it now, inventory issues can cause big problems. You might run out of stock, overpromise a particular item and have to refund customers, or even end up in debt as you try to keep up with demand before you have the money to buy new stock.
Not only will inventory management software help you to track your stock, but it will also make stock-taking a much faster, more efficient process. You’ll feel more confident when the time comes to rent a warehouse and you’ll be able to automate deliveries when stock is running low on popular items of clothing. Over time, this will also give you valuable data on what products your customers like the most. Pay attention to the items you keep reordering and adjust the number of products you have in stock at any one time to keep up with orders. You’ll also be able to spot trends such as peaks and troughs at certain times of the year.
Starting a fashion business can feel overwhelming If you feel like you’re juggling a huge number of processes and there aren’t enough hours in the day, start looking into some of the software solutions above and boost your overall efficiency.