How to start an online boutique?
Since the evolution of the internet, business organizations have started taking their business online. The internet has helped them in increasing their business and also attracting a lot of new customers.
Over the years, many businesses have joined the eCommerce bandwagon, and hence, a boutique business is not an exception.
Moreover, starting an online boutique business is the dream of various new-age entrepreneurs.
However, one of the major questions that appear in everyone’s mind is how to start online boutique?
So, whether you have entered into the online business world before or planning to enter for the first time, you have reached the right place.
Here, in this blog, we will discuss a step-by-step process that will help you to start an online boutique store with ease.
- Create a Business Plan
- Know your Target Audience
- Choose the Right Products for Selling
- Find the Suppliers for Your Products
- Register your business
- Create Branding Material
- Bring your Boutique Store Online
- Carry out Data entry for your online boutique store
- Find Suitable Shipping Partners
- Decide Marketing Strategy
- Update your store and strategy regularly
Let’s discuss all the points in detail:
Create a Business Plan
A lot of organizations and entrepreneurs make one common mistake while starting an online boutique store is that they consider business planning as a one-time thing. But the reality is entirely different.
In order to run a successful online boutique store, you will have to plan your business, even if it is a huge success. In simple words, a business plan is a strategic map which lays out where you and your business currently stands.
It also helps you in understanding the future of your business based on the resources, abilities, and goals. A business plan shows how you will get from point A to B in the upcoming years.
Here are some of the essential things that you should consider for your online boutique store:
Executive summary: A short overview of your business plan and what exactly it is.
Company Overview: A brief description of your company and its operations.
Market Overview: Details about the industry you are entering and the market analysis.
Sales & Marketing Strategy: Type of marketing strategy you are going to follow to generate revenue.
Operating Plan: Here, you need to decide things like equipment requirements, staff requirements, daily operations checklist, etc.
Organization & Management Plan: Overall structure of the management team and what the team offers to the organization.
Financial Management: You should list out all the financial costs required for starting and running your online boutique.
Know your Target Audience
After making a proper plan, the next thing in the process of how to start online boutique store is to figure out what kind of audience you are targeting.
Knowing and understanding the audience is one of the challenging tasks while starting an online boutique business.
The more you get specific (with your strategy), the easier it is to reach those people. And also to find audiences and grow your reach.
What type of products you are selling tells a lot about who your target audience would be? Conducting market research or doing online surveys will help you in understanding your audience.
For instance, if you are focusing on female audiences, you have to work as per the current market trends.
If your target audiences are old or middle-aged people, then you should add a vintage touch to your business strategy.
Because offering your targeted audience what they are expecting will help you in bringing a lot of new customers.
Youth are the most challenging and complicated to attract for a boutique store.
As their choices and tastes change almost every day, it is slightly complicated to understand them.
But once you fit into their shoes (in terms of mindset), you will achieve great heights in your business.
Choose the Right Products for Selling
As we discussed above, products play a vital role in influencing your target audience. Types of products you sell online tell a lot about your store and its goal.
Choose to sell products in your boutique based on location, occupation, gender, age-range, and income. In short, create a user persona about the target audience and then sell products accordingly.
For example, if you are starting an online boutique that sells products for women, then you should keep “variety” in mind.
Here variety refers to the size, color-range, current fashion trend, etc. If your target audience is youth, make sure you get everything they want.
Find the Suppliers for Your Products
After deciding the type of target audience and the products you want to sell in your online boutique, the next essential thing is to source inventory. In other words, you have to find suppliers for your products.
Here, you have some common ways to source a supplier; this includes Wholesaler and Dropshipping. Let’s have a brief about them.
Use a Wholesaler
If you are planning to go with a Wholesaler, you would require a particular area for storing your inventory. This can be your basement or a warehouse.
If you choose to go with this option, you have several benefits like purchasing orders in bulk, adding labels in products, selling at a great price, checking quality, etc.
Apart from this, there are some downsides to choosing a wholesaler like investing a large amount, charges of shipping & packaging, etc.
One better strategy is to form a list of wholesalers to approach for your online store. Regular check product availability, pricing, minimum order requirements, shipping cost, and then select the best wholesaler that suits your budget.
If you don’t like the overhead costs involved in the wholesaler method, you can go with dropshipping. Here, you have to partner with third-party suppliers who meet the needs of your customers.
The significant benefit of this method is you don’t have to invest in warehouse or inventory. Also, you don’t have to look after packing and shipping because the supplier will do that.
Some other benefits include managing your store anywhere, buying products in fewer quantities, etc.
Even though dropshipping is a good option, there are several drawbacks to the same. Firstly, you don’t get freedom for personalized packaging. Secondly, you might face issues in the inventory. Apart from this, a miscommunication with the supplier can lead to product returns.
Register your business
Business name is very important for any business. Choose your business name very smartly. Here, we explain the complete process of choosing the business name for your online boutique business.
Follow the simple steps given below. It will help you to choose an effective one.
Choose your Business name & Entity
Here, you have to choose a proper business name. For this, ensure that it is easy to spell and resonates well with your brand. Also, check that the same type of name doesn’t exist in the market.
Secondly, you have to choose a business structure as per your requirement. In simple words, you have to choose whether you want to operate business alone or collaborating with someone, etc.
Here, you have to select the kind of business structure based on the size & the type of your operations. Here, you have three options:
Sole Proprietorship: Operate your business with your own name with full responsibility along with all legal duties and less paperwork.
LLC: If you go with this option, then you will not be responsible in case of business debt.
Corporation: This option is phenomenal if your vision is huge, and you are ready to involve outside investors.
File Paperwork with state
If you have chosen to work as per the LLC or Corporation business structure, then it is compulsory to register your business name in the particular state you are running it.
Different states have different rules for this; you can refer to them online.
Look at your Finances
Prior to starting earning money from your boutique, you have to apply for a sales tax permit and get a federal tax ID number.
In case you are the sole proprietor of the online store, you have the freedom to utilize the Society Security Number.
Fulfill Sales & Tax Requirements
After you start earning money through your business, you have to abide by the tax requirements of your state. For all these details, you can check out the IRS website, or you can reach out to the state tax department.
Domain & Hosting
After you have chosen a proper business name, it’s time to register it online. For this, you need to purchase a domain online so that no one can steal it from you.
Apart from this, you will also have to purchase hosting in order to operate your boutique store online. Currently, there are a vast number of hostings available in the market Such as shared, Cloud, VPS, Dedicated, and managed.
You should purchase hosting based on the requirement and size of your online store and budget.
Create Branding Material
Branding is highly crucial for sharing the main goal, vision, mission, and values of every product. Here are some of the things that you should consider for branding:
Build your boutique’s brand
Branding of any business or brand is mainly a collection of products, type of business name, the customer you are targeting, and the look & feel of your online store.
Here, you have to look after two of the most essential things: logo and the color choice for the entire project.
Ensure that your products stands out
If you have to take care of all the primary elements like color, logo, etc., however, if your products are not displayed accurately, then you will not reach much further.
Here, you need to ensure that your products are photographed very well without any background noise. To carry out this task, you have two options: you can either do it yourself or hire a professional.
Bring your Boutique Store Online
Now, we are talking about the most important part of starting an online boutique store, i.e., choosing a platform. Here, you have two options, a Website or an App or both.
Let’s have a brief about them:
1. Create a Website for your Boutique Business
Here, you have few options to create a website such as using a builder, using a template, and custom.
If you have a low budget then you can choose to go with a builder; however, if you have a long-term vision for your store, then this approach is not suitable.
If you have some resources and budget, then go with a template. Further, you can customize the template as per the requirement.
Last but not least, if you are looking to develop a unique and out-of-the-box design for your online boutique, then you should develop a website from scratch.
2. Create a Mobile App for your Boutique Store
A website is essential to take your business online; however, if you are looking forward to reaching a wider audience, then you should think of building a mobile app for your boutique.
As the majority of users like to access a service/product through a mobile app, and if you have an app, then it helps to reach more users and also increase your sales.
If you are entering into the world of mobile apps for the first time, then you should consider building an MVP.
To know more, read this guide MVP in mobile app development.
If you are familiar with mobile apps, then it is recommended to build a custom app for your boutique.
For this thing, you can approach a mobile app development agency. They will understand online boutique store requirements and deliver you the best solution.
Carry out Data entry for your online boutique store
After you have launched your online boutique store with the help of a website or app, the next important thing is to list out all the products/services.
Here, you should include an appropriate description of the products that you are showcasing on your online boutique store.
If your product description doesn’t match the product you are offering, then there are strong chances that users return your product.
To avoid this, it is recommended that you should include a proper description of your product, emphasize more on the benefits instead of features, and present it properly. By doing this, more users will be drawn towards your store.
Find Suitable Shipping Partners
If you are running a boutique as a dropshipping company, then you have to manage your shipping logistics individually.
However, if you have your inventory, then you have to partner with a logistics company. For instance in North America, you can choose from various popular shipping partners like UPS, FedEx, DHL, USPS, etc.
Here, you have to choose the type of shipping you are offering. Here, you have options like free-shipping, flat-rate shipping, or real-time shipping. Apart from this, you have to also define the returns policy of your online boutique store.
Decide Marketing Strategy
After you have launched your online boutique store on the relevant platform, it’s time to build an audience of loyal customers.
To achieve this thing, you have to decide suitable marketing strategies for your store. Here, we will walk you through some of the most popular mediums of marketing:
Email marketing is a direct form of marketing through which you can promote your products or services effectively. Using email, you can share the latest discounts, offers, upcoming sales, popular items, etc.
There are a vast number of platforms available in the market which you can integrate on your website or app for email marketing.
Social Media Marketing
A majority of users across the globe are using one or the other social media platforms, and therefore marketing your online boutique store on these platforms will be beneficial.
Here, you have options like setting up an online store on Facebook and Instagram through which users can directly purchase from your store. Apart from this, you can also advertise your products on these platforms.
By advertising your products regularly, your brand will get recognized, and eventually, your sales might increase.
Even though the word of mouth marketing has become old, it is still one of the most preferred marketing strategies. In this strategy, you motivate your customers to use your products. For this, you can hire a brand ambassador.
Update your store and strategy regularly
Once you have started an online boutique, one must keep it updated in terms of fixing bugs on your website and fixing loopholes in your business strategy.
As per our marketing experience, we suggest, keeping up with the latest trends and fashion is the best way to grow your eCommerce business.
Also, offering more than expected to your customers will help you in increasing the reputation of your online business.
Wrapping it Up
We hope that you got an answer to the question, how to start an online boutique legally. Here we can say that setting up an online boutique store requires a lot of time and effort and it can’t be done by a single person; therefore, you will require an expert team of developers.
Building a custom website or app for your online store is a one-time investment. Later, you have to pay for its maintenance and marketing.
Lastly, If you are planning on starting an online boutique store for your business, don’t hesitate to share your project requirement with us. We can deliver you the best boutique store as per requirements.