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How to Start a Clothing Rental Business in 2024

Author: Nathan Crossley March 11, 2024 · 6 Min read
How to Start a Clothing Rental Business in 2024

There are few businesses you can start with minimal investment and massive growth potential, and if you’re looking for one, clothing rental is one of the best options. Over the past few years, online shopping has significantly grown; the same can be said for rental businesses. Both have increased and sustained their market share due to the pandemic and other factors.

The best part is that there is a lot of room for new rental businesses in the clothing sector. Not only are people renting wedding clothing, but there has been a growth in evening wear, maternity dresses, and children’s clothing. In a world where everything is done digitally, it only makes sense that starting your clothing rental business online is the best way to get started.

Why start a clothing rental business?

There are several reasons for starting an online clothing rental store instead of a brick-and-mortar one. For one, your audience is much greater than your geographic location. This matters because your local audience may not be big enough if you open a specialized store. Being online opens you up to a much larger demographic of people across the country.

In addition, launching your clothing rental store online saves you many costs associated with a physical location. As a result, there is less need for equipment and staff to manage daily operations. You also don’t need to consider additional rent and energy bills, as you will be operating out of your home, and the bill increase will be negligible compared to a store.

Finally, opening up to online bookings is essential if you already have a brick-and-mortar store for your clothing rental business. It can boost your potential customer base and increase revenue. Plus, with rental software like Booqable, getting started online is nowhere near as difficult as you think.

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How to start a clothing rental business

This is a basic summary of the steps you should follow to start renting out clothing online, from choosing your niche to getting your first orders.

Step 1 - Market research and find your niche

The first step when starting any new business is market research, but with clothing rental, you also need to find your niche. The research will help you develop a plan for your clothing rental business and avoid missteps. You should collect data about your target market and how others have been successful within it in either retail or rental.

This will also help you to determine your niche, as you don’t want to start a clothing rental business in one that is already saturated. Though if you can work out a unique selling prospect within a crowded niche, this could work to your benefit. Whichever way you choose, you need to identify and define your niche and determine how you can succeed within it.

Step 2 - Create a business plan

Once you are satisfied that you know what you want to do, the next step is to create a business plan for your clothing rental business. This document will be essential as it will define your mission and the strategies you will use to achieve your goals. You will need to make it thorough enough to allow you to refer back to it and update it in the future.

Some aspects that you should include are:

  • What you found out from your market research
  • Whom you want to target and how you want to reach them
  • How you are going to fund it
  • What profit you’re expecting to get over the coming months
  • What goals you would like to achieve

Remember, this is an evolving document, and it should develop alongside the growth of your business. You should review and update this document every six months, especially during your first couple of years. This will help you develop better strategies and make goals easier to reach as your clothing rental business grows.

Step 3 - Finding your supplier

Of course, a clothing rental company would not be worth anything without any clothes to rent out. It would help if you looked into the brands that create the clothing you want to offer in your online rental store. This will largely depend on what is popular within your niche, and you shouldn’t be afraid to shop around for the best possible price to keep within your budget.

One option could be to look at wholesale suppliers, where you can usually get deals when you order in bulk. You may also spot a sale in a local or online store and choose to buy a bunch of their stock. Another option is to partner with clothing manufacturers and offer them a percentage of your revenue for clothing to rent out in your online rental store.

Alternatively, if you have found that you have amassed quite the collection in your wardrobe, you could even start with renting those out. This is possible if you still have your maternity clothing or several elegant evening dresses that would be desirable for others to rent out. Not only does this mean you can start faster, but it also means you can make some revenue before investing.

Step 4 - Finding an online booking platform

This step goes hand in hand with the next step. To operate an online rental business, you will need somewhere for people to make bookings and a system to manage orders and inventory. You could start with a spreadsheet, but ideally, you want to be set up for the future with rental software. So, choosing the right one off the bat is essential, and it can be hard to switch later.

Booqable is one such platform, as it helps you to manage every part of your clothing rental business effectively. It provides an easy way to accept online bookings and keeps track of inventory, manages availability, generates invoices, sends emails, and makes deliveries easier. It can all be done in one app, allowing you to accept bookings and payments instantly.

Step 5 - Creating a website

Once you have an online booking platform, you need a website to share it with your audiences. Typically, people use WordPress or Squarespace as the basis for their rental website as they are easy to work with and have unlimited templates to work from. They are the two most accessible platforms to integrate Booqable with, making it easy to get started.

When creating your website, you need to create something that fits your niche and tells your story. During your research, you may have come across some ideas you like, and you should be able to implement these quickly with WordPress of Squarespace. Remember that you don’t need to rush this step; you can even reach out to Booqable Experts to help you get set up.

Step 6 - Developing your branding

Branding is more important than ever, so you need to make sure that you create clear and consistent branding. You will use this on your website, social media, and in advertising. It needs to tell your story effectively while appealing to your target audience. There are some steps that will make it easier to do this, as it can be hard to get ideas down without a plan:

  • Set out a mission statement
  • Get to know your business
  • Define your values
  • Set goals for your busines
  • Define your target audience
  • Tell the story of your business
  • Create value and be consistent

You can get more details about his process in our quick guide to branding for rental business owners. This guide will help you with everything you need to build your online clothing rental brand from scratch.

Step 7 - Launching your clothing rental business

At some point, you need to launch your online clothing rental business. Getting caught up in the fantasy of planning your company or constantly working on your branding and website can be easy. So, it can help to set a launch date for your company. You can always come back and make changes later on if you’re unsatisfied with your creations.

While preparing to launch your clothing rental business, getting your friends and family to test that everything is working as expected is a good idea. You will want to get any issues ironed out before you launch, especially regarding the booking process and ensuring that payments are processed smoothly with the appropriate order confirmations and notifications.

Step 8 - Marketing your clothing rental business

Once you’re ready to launch your online clothing rental business, you need to start marketing it. It is best to start doing this while you’re still testing if everything is working. You can start building some hype before you launch by sharing posts on social media and having your friends and family share them with their friends. This will help create an instant audience upon launch.

When you’ve fully launched, you can share more content about your clothing rental business on social media, in appropriate groups, and even in local media. It can also be a good idea to partner with local companies, for example, your local high school, if you rent out prom dresses. The opportunities are endless, so good luck getting started!

When launching an online clothing rental business, it’s crucial to navigate the legal landscape carefully. This involves choosing the appropriate business structure, such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or corporation, each offering different levels of personal liability protection, tax implications, and operational flexibility. Obtaining the right licenses and permits is also essential, which can vary by location and may include a general business license, a sales tax permit, and a home-based business permit if operating from home.

Insurance is another critical aspect, with general liability insurance protecting against customer lawsuits and commercial property insurance covering inventory loss or damage. Additionally, considering specialized insurance policies that cover rental items might be wise. Engaging with a legal expert familiar with the retail and rental industry can provide tailored advice to ensure compliance with all regulations.

How can one effectively set pricing strategies for different types of clothing or rental durations?

Setting effective pricing strategies requires a careful balance between competitiveness and profitability. Analyzing the market and understanding the target customer base are the first steps in determining pricing. Factors to consider include the original value of the item, maintenance and cleaning costs, frequency of rental, and overall demand for the product.

A tiered pricing model can be effective, offering different rates based on the rental duration, with discounts for longer rentals encouraging extended use and higher customer value. Dynamic pricing strategies might also be employed, adjusting rates based on demand, seasonality, and item popularity. Regularly reviewing and adjusting prices based on operational costs, competitor pricing, and customer feedback is crucial for staying competitive and profitable.

What are the best practices for managing hygiene and quality control in the clothing rental process?

Ensuring the hygiene and quality of rental clothing is paramount for customer satisfaction and repeat business. Implementing a rigorous cleaning protocol is essential, using professional cleaning services that specialize in handling diverse fabrics and maintaining high hygiene standards. Each item should undergo a thorough quality check before and after rentals to identify any damage or wear and ensure it meets the company’s standards for the next customer. Investing in durable, high-quality items that withstand frequent use and cleaning is also beneficial. Transparently communicating the cleaning and maintenance processes to customers can build trust and reassure them of the cleanliness and quality of the rental items.

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