Searching for the perfect products, choosing a color scheme that describes you, and building a brand that embodies the style you love– if starting an online boutique excites you, we are not surprised. With more people switching to online sales, starting a boutique is a great side hustle of full-time business ideas.
Before you jump headfirst into picking the items for your store, let’s start from the beginning.
In this guide, we’ll cover how to start a boutique online.
Are online boutique stores profitable businesses?
In a world full of massive corporations, customers are still searching for something unique.
A boutique is a niche of the modern business world, defined by stylish products, fashion assortments, personalized services, and spectacular brand identity. Finding the correct elements to vibe with your target audience could become a spur in the long run.
But still, the bugging question arises– Are online boutique stores profitable businesses?
The truth is online boutiques are impulsively growing and profitable businesses if executed strategically.
According to ZipRecruiter, the annual salary of an online boutique entrepreneur starts from $17,000 and goes up to $248,000.
Further studies in Statista show that the online boutique industry generated a total of $180.5 billion as of 2021, and this market revenue will move to $297.5 billion by 2025. Additionally, online fashion sales in 2019 accounted for almost 30% of total retail in the U.S.
Feel the craze yet?
Moreover, if you look at the records of some of the famous names in the industry, you’ll see they have generated significant revenue over the years. So yes! Starting an online boutique store is safe and money-making if you play by the rules.
How to start an online boutique store?
Online boutique stores might take a lot of work, but it gets easier with time. So here’s the complete guide to starting your boutique:
1. Decide your niche:
While some sellers already know what they want to sell, you might have yet to learn. But guess what? That’s the fun part– nailing your niche! But what exactly does it mean?
Simply, it’s finding a product that differentiates your store from the rest of the online bunch. It can be a bit confusing, but we can help:
- Only try appealing to some. Target a small group, whether children’s clothes, jewels, or hats.
- Think about your ideal customer. For example, expanding to women’s clothing would make little sense if you sell men’s attire. However, socks, wallets, and jackets sound more feasible.
- What about the lifetime value? It’s more challenging to sell to a new customer than to provide services to old customers.
2. Find a retailer:
Once you’ve picked up your niche, it’s time to source your supplier (unless you decide to make the products yourself). For this, you have two options:
- Use a wholesaler:
This means buying your products en masse and storing and shipping them yourself.
- Choose a dropshipping company:
This is where you sell products from another supplier through your website, letting the supplier take care of storage, packaging, and shipping in return for a small commission.
If you’re opting for dropshipping, make sure to:
- Request for samples for investigating the quality.
- Ensure the solutions the supplier provides when something goes wrong.
- Learn about the supplier’s history and reputation through reviews.
3. Set up your legal entity:
Setting up the legal entity will determine how you’re taxed and the liability you hold as the owner of the online boutique store. For small businesses or startups, it’s best to go with sole proprietorship and limited liabilities companies(LLC).
As the name suggests, it’s a venture owned by a single person. There’s no complicated paperwork, but you must register the business under the state and get a tax ID. However, you are liable for any debts the company accumulates.
LLC offers some protection for the owner, and it’s easier to get loans here. To set up with LLC, you’ll need to file Articles of Organisation with the state and get an identification number from the IRS. Most states offer LLCs 100% online with little or no waiting time.
4. Draft a business plan:
While not required, it’s a good idea to keep your progress on track, determine the popularity of your boutique, understand your competitors, and secure financing.
The plan can contain sections like:
- Business description
- Product portfolio
- Target market
- Market analysis
- Financial planning
- Resource allocation
- Legal framework
- Operation and maintenance
5. Select an ecommerce platform:
The next step in starting an online boutique store is selecting the right ecommerce platform. Costs, capabilities, and UX are essential when choosing a store.
What to look for in the platform?
- Whether it’s a dedicated site builder with ecommerce capabilities.
- Is the hosting cost reasonable?
- Is it user-friendly?
- Is the platform mobile-responsive?
- How many products can you sell in one go?
- How is it hosted?
- Does it integrate with other platforms?
- Is it secure?
- Do they support a mobile app?
- What are the technical aspects?
6. Create a cohesive style:
Here comes the fun part. Now it’s time for you to decide your brand name and dive into aesthetic curation. Slightly different from branding, the step involves embellishing your online boutique’s style.
Who is your ideal customer? What do they love? A name that catches the eye?
What colors should your site be? What type of images should you use?
Some questions may seem irrelevant, but they matter for aesthetic cohesion. You want all your items to fit and tell a story.
7. Build your website:
Now it’s time to build your website.
It’s always an excellent option to have your logos, brand colors, and product photos prepped first since it makes the process easier.
Follow the instructions to launch your site:
- Choose a theme or template.
- Add products and descriptions.
- Generate checkout policies.
- Select accepted payment modes.
- Determine the shipping process.
Once you’ve constructed your website, set up everything to start your store:
- Fill out the social media platforms with info about your boutique.
- Set up transactional emails for your orders.
- Get your Google Analytics on board and track the data.
- Test all functionalities through A/B testing to know everything is working well.
- Hit the actually create button and go live.
If you are looking for hacks to boost your site engagement, here’s how you can do it:
- Add an About Us page. Tell your stories about what inspired you for the shift.
- Partner with famous brands in the industry. A little collaboration can do wonders.
- Be active on social media. Let your products become the talk.
- Deliver trust through words and reviews.
You can only sell your products with advertising. When marketing is excellent, you can reach your customer in any situation. So, marketing is a no-brainer for your online boutique store.
It builds your brand authority by showcasing how you can help your prospects.
So here are a few marketing channels for your online boutique store.
Being a visual stage, Insta has become a holy grail for every entrepreneur. Collaborate with some influencers and showcase your products to the world.
SEO is one of the best spots for organic traffic. More traffic means more sales, and you can do it via content marketing or pay for Google Ads.
Email marketing is still alive and is one of the best ways to interact with prospects. There are plenty of tools in the market to find your options according to your ICP.
Facebook Ads / YouTube Ads:
These bugging ads work when you pop them at the right time.
While fashion never ends, it’s sadly the time to complete our guide. While opening an online boutique store, you’ll find the behind-the-scenes work can help the business to grow. Using the manual, you can design the ultimate luxury guide and start retailing in no time. Now, get out there and build that brand.