I have been having idea's about this post for a while but just didn't how to get my thoughts together so I'm not sure if this will be any good but here it goes anyway!
So I don't run an online business of my own, I don't have a marketing degree nor am I an expert in running businesses but I've done my fair share of online shopping and have done reviews for online companies so I will give some tips from a consumer point of view inshaAllah, but please remember these are merely my views and not guaranteed to work
Tip 1: Be Unique
Do your research and check out other companies out there. At the moment the number of 'online hijab companies' have been growing and there are sooo many companies selling the exact same scarves & accessories claiming to be unique. If you want to be successful think up something different or take a unique angle on the hijab business idea. Brainstorm, pilot your ideas, find out what really makes it 'you'. Don't try to be like another hijab company out there, or steal ideas from other people....although 2 people can have the same idea and similar tastes, deliberately stealing someone elses idea is really not cool!
Tip 2: Market Research
Ask around family, friends and the online hijabi community to see what people are after, then take those opinions and adapt them to make them unique to you. Try to deliver them at affordable prices with a good service.
Tip 3: Photography
One thing I've found especially for myself is that good quality pictures attract me to browse through the items, so invest in a good camera, take your product into good lighting and take clear pictures of the scarves/accessories etc. Professional looking pictures make the company look more reliable and trustworthy, as online shopping is still seen by some as risky business you need people to see that your business is real and you are reliable.
If you can get someone to model the hijabs for you then that is better than putting it on a mannequin because it gives the customer an idea of how the product looks when worn. Using a mannequin works aswell if you do it properly, try to use a simple hijab style and be consistent with all your pictures (lighting, quality, style). Please for the sake of your business just take a little bit longer to put the hijab on the mannequin neatly rather than covering half the eye with the under scarf because as a customer you can really tell when it's been rushed and its not very appealing.
Tip 4: Brand identity
Like I said before your brand identity needs to unique, the more of your personal style/ personality you add to your business the more you can connect with your customers. Give yourself a short and sweet name, preferably not something common 'hijabi...,' or '....hijabs', '...boutique' anything to do with pearls etc' there are just too many out there and it wont make you stand out.
Have a slogan or a saying (again try to make it unique to you and your company), something catchy yet not cliche, something that people will remember you by.
Make yourself a professional looking logo with no more than 2 or 3 colours (don't over do it). The online hijab company at the moment is mainly geared to young women and teenage girls, so with that in mind give your company a look that you will stay consistent with.
Remember sometimes less is more, that goes for your complete look as well as your website/business cards etc, keep it elegant, simple, sophisticated and professional.
Tip 5: Network
Social networking sites are a great way to connect with sisters across the globe. Join social networking sites and use them to advertise and get your company out there! Speak to your customers (not just about the business) but really genuinely speak to them as friends because people are more likely to buy from sisters who they know they can contact easily should there be a problem. This also goes back to the point about proving that you are a reliable company, showing people you are a real, down to earth person makes them feel like they know you and again makes them realise you are trustworthy.
Update your twitter, facebook, instagram & whatever else you can join frequently, the more you post the more people will see you. The more people get to know the person behind the company the more likely they are to become loyal customers.
Upload outfit of the day photo's featuring your products to give people a little taster of them and give them ideas about how they could wear them. Do competitions & giveaways to get people to come onto your page, check out your website and tell others about it.
Tip 6: Customer Service
Customer service is sink or swim for your company, get people who have bought from you to leave reviews and their testimonials, this will encourage others to purchase from you and will also give you ideas about what you can improve on as you go on. Reply to your customers promptly, if there is anything people hate is poor customer service especially when its their hard earned money involved. If you start lying to your customers or making excuses for why things are not being done as well as ignoring customers questions then you've got a problem because on the internet word of mouth (or clicking 'like' 'share') is king. Customer relations is key to making a success out of your business.
Tip 7: Advertise don't spam
I as a blogger on here and FB HATE spam messages from online companies...the ones that go something like 'PLEASE LIKE AND SHARE MY PAGE'...I always delete them and they look really unprofessional (sometimes a little desperate). If you want exposure for your company join forces with bloggers/vloggers and others online to talk about your company and share their views with their readers/viewers. When people hear their favourite youtube hijab guru or hijab/fashion blogger speak about a new company and give a good review or when you have reliable & established businesses speaking about your company, you will see more hits on your website and inshaAllah a rise in sales.
Advertise on people's blogs or websites buy asking if you can put a banner on their page that will either have your website name on it or will link directly to your website if people click on it.
Tip 8: Personal touches
I don't know about other people but I love personal touches to things. Whether its heart shaped confetti in the packages, ribbons, little mini charms on the ends of the scarves, well wrapped products in the consistent colour scheme or simply a business card with the products it all makes it that much more attractive. When the postman comes with a package people forget that they have bought it and its sort of like getting a present, it's different from buying it in a shop so make that moment of opening the package special by adding little finishing touches that show you really care and how much effort you put into your business.
Tip 9: Deals, discounts, sales
People are always looking for a bargain and everyone loves the word sale, once in a while do reduce your prices or make combo's (i.e. 3 scarves for £10), although your profit margin will be smaller inshaAllah it will attract more customers and people will keep checking back to see if there are any sales. Best times for deals are special occasions such as Eid, Ramadan, graduation period as well as back to school period and change in season, these are the times where people are searching for new clothes/ hijabs etc, sell items that tie in with the occasions/seasons coming up and give them an incentive to do business with you.
Tip 10: Sincerity
Be sincere in your intentions and your actions. Know that only Allah provides wealth, if you want your business to be successful make du'a and stay grounded. Be sincere with your customers and with yourself. Don't be greedy with your wealth because it can go just as easily as it came, why not give a percentage of your profits to charity? You can do that without telling anyone or by letting your customers know so that they can also benefit in this good act of yours.
I hope this post was of some use to those with companies or looking to set one up inshaAllah. May Allah grant you success in all that you do for His sake and may your business ventures blossom into something amazing!
Your sister in Islam,