How To Start An Online Boutique Business?

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Starting an online boutique is beyond purchasing a domain and promoting it through ads. A successful online store majorly depends on the niche you pick, the branding you create, the quality of both your products and website, the customer service you offer and a lot more. Choosing a popular niche doesn’t give you instant access to the target audience. In fact, the opposite is true. With increasing fame comes increased pressure to differentiate your online boutique from millions of brands who are already established. 

If you are all new to the e-commerce space and looking to start an online boutique in 2019, this blog is for you. We will take you through this progressive guide on how to build a successful online boutique. 

Choose Your Niche

Before you start with picking products for your store, you need to decide the niche you want to sell in. The key is to be very specific and drill down your niche. It will allow you to identify and market to your target audience easily. 

This will also let you develop your product list in an appealing way to potential buyers, allowing you to limit your competition and increase customer loyalty. 

Along with the niche, you have to pick your products, too. Will you be selling dresses, shirts, or both? The clothing market is vast and you will always have plenty of choices in the niche you are selling in. When it comes to the picture of products, if you feel photography isn’t your thing, make sure you hire a professional. Evaluate their portfolio before finalizing the photographer to shoot your product images.

Tips To Choose The Product Line

  • Start small

As you can see in the above picture, start out in a simple and small manner as you choose your product list. You can focus on just men’s clothing line comprising of shirts, pants, ties, and all formal wear. Or just shirts alone or ties alone. Adding too many items not only increase the admin costs (for web set up and photo shoots), it also adds complications during the launch.

  • Think ahead

Initially, pick stable products like T-shirts or bow ties that can easily adapt to changing trends and style. If you decide to focus more on mainstream fashion, choose drop shipping so that you won’t be left with unsellable stock. In the clothing business, there will always be shifts, so success really depends on how innovative and adaptable you are when dealing with changes.  

  • Set your focus

Be as specific and narrow as you can when you start out, but always focus on your end goal. Have a vision about extending your online store in the future. This will ensure that once you add more products or grow your online store, you will be able to implement trending products to your boutique seamlessly. 

Deal With The Legal Essentials

While it is an online boutique, you need a business license that determines its legal structure (whether you are a sole proprietor or limited liability corporation). You have to check the business law of your state and identify what type of licensing is required. Having a business license comes handy for tax-related legalities and also to avoid issues that might arise in the future. 

Decide How You Plan To Source Your Products- Finding The Right Suppliers

Now when it comes to sourcing products, you need to find the right suppliers. If you have concentrated niches like clothing based on pop culture, or fashion clothing line from the 70s or anything similar, you have to find suppliers who sell such special products. Investing your quality time for research is the key to choosing the right suppliers. Trust me, it will work. 

Here are some of the different ways you can follow while sourcing products.

  • Go wholesale (Having an inventory)

This is the traditional route most people take where you contact a few suppliers and buy a certain amount of inventory from them. Then you store that inventory in a garage or your warehouse. Wholesale suppliers are more common than drop shippers so you can easily spot them by doing detailed online research. 

You can browse through websites like Aliexpress and contact some trusted suppliers who would be interested to send you products at cheaper rates. You can also reach out to your favorite Etsy shop that sells handcrafted clothing that you think will be perfect for your online boutique. Send them a message to see if that works for you.

Pros

  • Inventory can be neatly managed even with less storage space.
  • You have full control over packaging and shipping- This plays a vital role in branding. 
  • You can keep a check on the quality of your products

Cons

  • More effort in packing and shipping
  • Though you save money by buying in bulk, in the short term it becomes costly as you are stocking up more. 
  • Includes lots of overhead due to the storage, shipping, and packing. 

 

  • Consider drop shipping

The next possibility would be to consider drop shipping. In drop shipping, you need not keep a stock of the products you sell. Instead, you set up a website or a platform to list your products and whenever a customer chooses a product, you notify the supplier who directly ships the item to the customer. In this model, the merchant never sees or handles the product. You purchase the inventory from a third-party-Generally a manufacturer or a wholesaler who deals with packaging and shipping on your behalf. 

When it comes to running your online boutique with drop shipping, you might face difficulties in choosing suppliers as not everyone dropship. However, in platforms like Aliexpress, you can find good suppliers who drop ship. You can also look for local suppliers online and contact them to check whether they offer drop shipping services. 

Pros

  • You don’t have to arrange or pay for storage space. 
  • Both shipping and packaging are handled by suppliers. 
  • Less cost to launch your online store.

Cons

  • You don’t have control over packaging and shipping.
  • Product quality cannot be inspected before shipping.
  • The shipping time is out of your hands- This might affect customer service adversely. 

Vetting Your Suppliers To Improve Customer Experience

Your customers rely on you when ordering items from your online boutique. Hence, it is important to offer them the best possible customer experience. That is why you have to vet suppliers to check whether it is safe to have a partnership. You can contact the supplier over the phone and ask questions to learn about how they work and the services they offer. The same applies when you are chatting in person with a local supplier. Make sure that you ask questions about the quality of the products, samples to test out, mode of communication, their professional history, etc. If the supplier is listed out online, you can check for user reviews to know about their reputation in the industry. 

Building A Visually Appealing And Functional Online Boutique Store

Now comes the most important part, building your own online boutique. Thanks to the invention of platforms like Shopify, Bigcommerce, ShopyGen, Woocommerce and node.js e-commerce development. 

Make sure that you use a stunning UI/UX to make it visually pleasing and functional. 90% of visitors would like to see a great design along with an excellent collection of clothing. Navigation and search are two other important aspects you have to focus on. The web design and ease of use of your online store are as important as the items you are selling. If you don’t want tospend a fortune to develop a store from scratch, you can use an e-commerce store builder to create your node.js shopping cart. 

Bringing Traffic To Your Online Boutique

The last step? Now you have your online store all set up, the next step would be to get visitors to your online boutique. The major traffic driving strategies are email marketing, content marketing, social media marketing, PPC, etc. Create social media profiles of your online boutique and share pictures of your products. Make sure you set automation emails and test them. You must also have a well-planned email marketing strategy planned for the first 6 months. Ensure that you have top quality pictures with clear product descriptions. 

You can also showcase your products in channels like Etsy, Amazon, and eBay to increase the visibility of your store and products.  Another powerful marketing strategy is to collaborate with influencers like bloggers or celebrities who might be willing to flaunt your clothing line. 

All Ready To Kick-Start Your Online Boutique?

Now that you know the basics and essentials of starting an online boutique, you are ready to start with your online boutique. The main goal is to maintain an optimal budget to get started off and expand yourself as you set a grip in the industry. Have an excellent website set up to showcase your products. Your brand will be a blend of your brand name, cohesive product selections, the audience you are targeting and the overall look and feel of the online store itself. Now go ahead and present the cohesive brand story of your online boutique to your customers!