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Importing Ethnic Clothing Online Marketing

Q:I recently started the business of importing ethnic clothing and accessories from India to US. The main reason why I started this business was because I heard a few friends mention how they were bored of clothes and styles from Old Navy and Filenes.

A:1) Looking at the current version of the website, what is your first impulse? What do you think can be changed to make better impressions? 2) The other problem that I am facing is limitations in the market. I live an hour away from Boston, and I think that if I were able to get a market there, it should be easier for me to establish a base. But, at this point, I have no contacts, and I cannot afford to move to Boston. Also, I am a student and so do not have huge financial resources to invest into publications that may help me identify markets. So, what are the ways of looking for a market? What are the ways to approach the market? How do I promote the website? 3) For some of the products on my website (mainly the tunics), I am facing a competition from China. Their tunics are mass-produced, easily available in stores, and much much cheaper. (which would have been fantastic for me if I were the consumer, so I can't complain). However, I cannot afford to sell my tunics for the same price because my tunics are hand made and hand embroidered and there is a huge difference in the quality of the fabric. But, of course, people visiting the website cannot get a feel for the difference in the quality and hence cannot comprehend the reason for the difference in price. How do I combat that? Is there a nice way of mentioning that on the website? On the website I like the how to wear a sari section, the figure drawings are really good. Do you know anyone who can help you program it with some videos or music incorporated? Promote your website yourself like crazy- print up business cards (I've actually heard you can get "personal cards" for free some places online) and ask friends to pass it along. Maybe even join message boards and blog commenters so you can mention your site. As far as learning to market online, have you read the Dummies or Idiot's guides on this- they will give you a basic primer and have some references that are fairly good. Definitely ask around your network, you'd be surprised how many people have some sort of online business and can share their experience. Finally, with the China products cost issue- that is something you will probably want to face head on under the quality angle. I wouldn't explicitly talk about pricing (there may be people who don't research the cost advantage if you really push the handmade quality angle. Also authenticity is key to promote- you want something made the traditional way with the right fabrics, colors, details not some factory version homogenized for the mass market.

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