Starting a business can be overwhelming since most industries are competitive and have a high barrier to entry. Inevitably, success can start to feel like a pipe dream.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Selling socks is a highly profitable and beginner-friendly business model that nearly anyone can do. Think about it: people of all ages wear socks. With so many styles, demographics, and use cases, it’s easy to find a niche within the market to sell to.
Follow our step-by-step tutorial on how to start a sock business.
1. Conduct Market Research
Long gone are the days when price was the determining factor in consumer buying decisions. While price still plays a role, many factors drive purchases, such as brand differentiation, customer-centric buying experiences, and reputation.
Market research helps you to understand your customers and the industry, giving you better chances at success.
Start with secondary research by looking at market data. In the socks industry, you may want to gather facts such as:
- The average prices of different types of socks
- The average profit margins of sock businesses
- The type of socks that had the highest sales
- The best platforms for selling socks
This information will help you find gaps in the market to fill and outdo your competitors. You’ll also discover trends, such as the best-selling socks this year, to better understand what consumers want.
Next, you want to analyze your competitors. Look at the topic competitors in the industry to see what’s working. Many online platforms like eBay filter information to find sales data of competitors.
Here’s what to look for:
- The types of socks your competitors are selling
- Their sales volume and their prices
- Estimate their potential profit margins
- How they promote and advertise their products
- How they handle customer service
Success leaves clues. By studying the top of your industry, you can uncover what’s working – and what’s not.
2. Identify Your Target Audience and Market Niche
As a small upstart e-commerce business, it’s hard to attract everyone. Instead, it’s better to niche your store to attract a niche audience. This helps you stand out among competitors and makes your brand the go-to option for a specific niche.
91% of consumers believe they’re more likely to shop with brands that provide relevant offers. For example, creating only socks with pet graphics attracts pet lovers who obsess over anything revolving around animals.
When picking your niche, it’s best to look for underserved markets that other sock businesses neglect. For example, maybe you’ve found that toddlers need non-slip socks or patients need compression socks.
You can also browse on Etsy to get an idea of what types of socks are selling. Pick a niche that resonates with your passions and has a high demand.
Once you know the market you want to sell to, start conducting primary research to learn more.
For example, perform surveys on customer preferences. See what types of socks your potential customers would like and their preferred colors and fabrics. Also, look through all the positive and negative customer reviews from other businesses. What are customers in this niche complaining about? Can you win them over with faster delivery, better quality socks, better packaging, or lower costs?
3. Establish the Type of Socks You Want to Make
Now that you know what your customers want and what niche you want to enter, you can decide on the type of socks to sell.
You’ll want to choose the sock types, designs, fabrics, decorative patterns, branding styles, and colors based on your research.
Before you choose your type, we recommend looking at the types of socks that sell best. For example, if you type in “socks” on the Etsy search bar, you’ll get recommendations such as:
- Socks with faces
- Socks monkey
- Wool socks
- Women’s patterned socks
As a beginner, it’s better to sell trendy styles of socks. If you go with an obscure sock type, you risk drawing little interest. Make a list of the types of socks you want to sell, then narrow the list based on your passion for them and whether you can find a manufacturer to make them for you.
4. Build Your Brand
Now that you know your product, it’s time to build your brand.
Your brand encompasses everything that affects how your customers perceive your organization. This doesn’t just include the visual assets like your logo, website design, and brand colors but also your company mission and tone of voice.
The most important part is to figure out your brand position. For example, you can’t be a high-end luxury socks company and a budget-friendly business simultaneously.
Start with a brand positioning statement that tells your customers who you are and what you do. For example, your brand position statement could be, “We’re a premium socks company selling warm, durable wool socks for outdoor enthusiasts.”
From there, you can invest in crafting the visual elements that exemplify your brand position. Ensure your brand elements are everywhere, such as your website, packaging, ads, and social platforms.
5. Decide Where to Sell Your Socks
Nowadays, you aren’t beholden to any one place to sell online. Over the years, dozens of e-commerce platforms have emerged with unique advantages.
The two most common ways to sell your socks are through your online store or large marketplaces.
Creating your own online store means you are responsible for driving traffic to your e-commerce website. That said, here are a few benefits to choosing to create your own store:
- Full control over your brand: You can customize the shopping experience. Many e-commerce platforms come with pre-built templates, but you can add your own branding elements and integrations from other systems. For example, adding a chatbot or collecting emails will help to engage customers.
- Retarget shoppers: With marketplaces, shoppers don’t have much loyalty to any seller since there’s less differentiation. Since you control how you draw traffic, you can retarget visitors with ads already familiar to your brand.
- Have an email list: You can collect emails from visitors and have a growing customer base. Marketplaces don’t let you collect emails from visitors.
Third-party marketplaces are where you create product listings within their pre-defined product categories. Examples of marketplaces include eBay, Etsy, and Amazon Handmade. Here’s why you should consider selling on marketplaces:
- Convenience: It’s much easier to get started since you don’t have to build a website from scratch.
- Tons of visitors: Marketplaces are highly trusted and drive millions of customers. People are comfortable making purchases, and there are usually consumer protection policies in place. All you have to do is create and optimize your listings, and you can start getting sales immediately.
6. Pricing Your Socks
Pricing your socks can be a game of art and science. There’s no exact formula. Setting your price too high causes shoppers to abandon their carts, while aiming too low means you miss out on untapped profits.
The pricing strategy you choose depends on your product. If you sell premium socks, you may consider value–based pricing, meaning you set a price based on how much customers think your products are worth.
Sometimes, pricing higher than competitors is a smart move, especially if you offer something they don’t. Value-based pricing works for sellers with differentiating qualities, such as sustainability or better materials. In fact, 34% of people are willing to pay more for sustainable products.
If you sell the same product to customers with little differentiation, you may go with a competitor pricing strategy. This is where you charge less than other stores. However, you could be left with charging too low and fall victim to being in a race to the bottom.
7. Find a Wholesale Socks Supplier
Now, you’re ready to find a print-on-demand supplier who can meet your demands, such as design, sizes, shipping times, and costs.
We suggest going to a supplier who can offer custom services. For example, The/Studio allows you to fully customize your socks. You can choose from a wide range of sock types, such as no-show, crew, quarter, and knee-high socks. Nearly anything you can imagine, The/Studio can do.
From retail packaging to fabrics and everything in between, The/Studio helps you craft the perfect custom socks for your customers. You can upload your own artwork or have one of our in-house designers help you.
8. Develop a Marketing and Promotion Plan
If you’ve decided to create an online store, you’ll need a marketing strategy to drive traffic to your website.
The fastest way to see results is to run pay-per-click ads on Google or social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
With Google, you’ll be targeting keywords based on your budget. Every time users search a keyword such as “wool socks,” you’ll appear at the top and pay for every click you receive.
Social media ads interrupt users by appearing on people’s timelines or feeds. These ads allow you to target customers based on demographics rather than keywords. If you sold pet socks, you might target pet lovers; if you sold wool socks, you might go after people who love skiing or snowboarding.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Starting a Sock Business Profitable?
Yes, socks are a highly profitable business model, with the market valued at 49.80 billion in 2022 and expected growth annually by 6% from 2023 to 2028. Socks are an everyday necessity and a staple in most peoples’ wardrobes; thus, there’s always a high demand.
How To Start a Sock Selling Business?
To start a sock business, you must set up a brand and find a supplier who manufactures socks. Then, you need to promote your products online via an e-commerce store or marketplace. The most important part is to create a brand that distinguishes yourself from competitors.
Starting a sock business is one of the easiest and most lucrative ventures you could start. They’re a staple item worn daily and need to be replaced regularly.
Also, many niches of people buy specialty custom socks based on their needs or interests, like pets, faces, memes, and other trendy topics.
If you’re looking to partner with a supplier, The/Studio has you covered. You can create custom-designed, retail-ready socks to attract and impress your target audience.
We’re confident we’ll knock your socks off when you see all the different ways you can personalize your products. Try The/Studio today to get your business off the ground and maximize your chances of success.