How to Start an Online Boutique: Checklist & Step-by-Step Guide
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With the convenience and security of online business services, it is no wonder that people are more inclined to roll their smartphones instead of driving into a store.
In addition, e-commerce makes it easier for you to start your business and make money without having to pay the extra cost of a physical store. Of course, this does not mean that you do not need to spend a lot of work to start a business.
The good news is that we have assembled all the information needed to start and run an online boutique, from how to choose a product segment to a wealth of marketing skills from experts.
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Table Of Contents
- Online Boutique
- 10 Steps on How to Start an Online Boutique
- Find the best e-commerce platform for your online boutique
- Develop a business plan
- Choose the name and domain name & hosting plan of your online boutique
- How to create an online boutique website
- Launch your online boutique
- Start mass marketing
- Participation in building online boutiques
- Examples of online boutiques
Before we begin, let’s review the definition of an online boutique. Basically, this is a small shop that usually sells fashionable clothing or accessories via the Internet. For example, an online boutique might sell highly specialized products at higher prices than traditional physical department stores.
One of the most attractive aspects of online stores is the growth potential. Statista’s data shows that by 2021, the sales of e-commerce apparel in the United States are expected to grow to 100 billion U.S. dollars.
In addition, in 2019, online fashion sales accounted for almost 30% of total US retail e-commerce sales.
More and more shoppers are buying clothes, shoes, and accessories online-especially when many brick-and-mortar retailers are temporarily closed. This is especially true.
The skills and qualities required to open an online boutique
1. Enthusiasm and motivation.
Do you like to spend the weekend searching for unique discoveries in antique shops? Are you obsessed with matching shoes with clothing? If so, your passion for fashion will help you succeed.
Running a small business is not easy. When you are deeply involved in tax paperwork, you need enthusiasm and motivation to keep moving forward. Therefore, before making any time or money commitments, make sure you are passionate about your work and have the motivation to succeed.
The network is one of your most valuable assets. Because even if you are a professional jewelry designer, you may not know how to set up an LLC or design a professional logo. Through the power of the Internet, you can find people who really know how to do these things and ask for their expertise.
3. Digital marketing
As a business owner, you need to wear a lot of hats. Although you don’t have to be an expert in all aspects, having some digital marketing background will be very helpful.
The good news is that learning digital marketing online is easier than ever. You can use some great resources to familiarize yourself with search engine optimization (SEO), paid advertising, social media, email marketing, and more.
4. Commercial finance
Similar to digital marketing, it can be helpful to understand startup costs before opening an online store. The good news is that you can also conduct research online and take courses to better understand how to manage finances.
Some things you need to pay attention to include:
- Know your credit score.
- Different types of corporate loans.
- How to manage the budget.
Also, keep in mind that many people make mistakes in the process it doesn’t matter. You just want to do everything you can at the beginning to prepare for success.
5. Time management
The best part of being your own boss is that no one tells you what to do. However, this means that you are responsible for completing all the work. Passion and motivation can only take you far. If you can’t manage your time, you will soon be exhausted.
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Prioritize your time and work hard to develop this skill. In addition, please take advantage of the many books, applications, and tools designed for managing time.
To have a successful online boutique, you need confidence. I believe you can do this, and don’t let negative thoughts get in the way.
10 Steps on How to Start an Online Boutique
- Determine your product niche.
- Find the best e-commerce platform for your online boutique.
- Create a business plan.
- Choose the name and domain name of your online boutique.
- Find and review your clothing supplier.
- Use the online store builder to create your website.
- Add products and instructions to your online boutique.
- Start your online boutique.
- Start large-scale marketing.
- Revise, reinvent and update.
Although some creative entrepreneurs already know what they want to sell, you may not know. But this is part of the fun- figuring out your product and market segment.
So, what does niche mean? When you open an online boutique, you should not try to attract everyone. You want to target a small number of specialized groups.
Here is an example of your business:
- Vintage clothes.
- Children’s clothing.
- Plus size women’s clothing.
- Men’s sportswear.
- Handmade beaded necklace.
- Rings of metal products.
- Stained glass earrings.
- Women’s wallets.
- Men’s hats.
- Children’s shoes.
- Handmade scarf.
Also, think about your ideal customer. Remember them so that you can be sure that the products offered will interest them. For example, if you decide to sell men’s sports shorts and shirts, it doesn’t make sense to expand to sell women’s swimwear. However, it makes sense to provide accessories such as socks, jackets, and shoes.
Another important thing to remember is the customer’s lifetime value. Acquiring new customers is much more difficult than selling to existing customers. In order to maximize your profits and grow an online boutique, ideally, you want to provide products that will allow customers to come back and load new products into their shopping carts.
Find the best e-commerce platform for your online boutique
Now that you have a product available for sale, it is time to build your store. For online businesses, this means your e-commerce platform. There are also some great options, even if you have no experience, you can build an e-commerce website very easily.
You want a good partner who is not only suitable for you today, but also provides you with extended solutions. Changing the platform is not impossible, but it requires a lot of work and you need to invest a lot of money to build your own online business. Therefore, ensuring that you have the right platform partner is the first thing, and I encourage people to take the time to understand and finally make a decision.
Who is it for?
Among the different e-commerce platforms, Shopify may be the most famous. Shopify focuses on ease of use and is a great choice for small business owners who want to open an online store quickly.
- ThemeForest majors and respond rapidly theme to design your site.
- Shopify Payments (if you use it) allows you to avoid the additional transaction fees that you need to pay when using other payment gateways.
- More than 4,100 integrated applications to help you add other features to the online store.
Plans and pricing
Shopify also offers many very affordable pricing models. In addition, they offer Shopify Lite options for merchants who only want to sell on their existing blog sites.
If you want to add other features to the plan, you need to upgrade your Shopify account. Before deciding to use an e-commerce platform, make sure to evaluate the features that are most important to your business, lest you accidentally upgrade.
Who is it for?
WooCommerce is an open-source e-commerce plugin for WordPress. Therefore, if you already have a WordPress website or blog and want to open an online boutique quickly, then this is a good choice for you. In addition, developers and experienced webmasters will enjoy the level of control gained through WooCommerce.
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- Since WooCommerce is open source, you have full control over customizing and managing your store.
- You can use several core payment options for free, or you can choose from more than 100 advanced payment gateways.
- You can install hundreds of extensions to get help with transportation, accounting, marketing, and more.
- You can take advantage of the huge WooCommerce meetup group community to help manage your store.
Who is it for?
BigCommerce is for everyone. If you are an entrepreneur, everything about yourself becomes easy, and the ease of use makes it easy to get started. On the other hand, if you have an existing business that you want to do online, BigCommerce has the integration needed to achieve a seamless transition.
- The powerful SEO function allows you to fully control the URL, title tags, title tags, and metadata.
- Integration with Instagram allows your customers to make purchases without leaving the app.
- Page Builder tool provides drag and drops function, so you can quickly change the site
- Out-of-the-box products include abandoned shopping cart recycling, coupons and discounts, and one-page payments.
- 24/7 real-time agent support, as well as a dedicated help center and an active merchant community.
- When you need to expand the catalog, each product can handle up to 600 SKUs and provide 250 options.
- Using one of more than 55 supported payment gateways will not charge you any other transaction fees.
- A huge network of partners to help with everything from shipping and fulfillment to marketing and advertising.
Plans and pricing
With BigCommerce, you can choose from their plans. In addition, there is an additional option for large enterprises that require enterprise solutions.
As you can see, the plan you are based on depends on your online sales. However, no matter which plans you use, you have access to a large number of features, which saves you from having to choose the right plan from the start.
Develop a business plan
Now, it’s time to create your own business plan. This will be your guide, listing your goals and the steps to take to achieve them. Then, when you are ready to receive other financial assistance, you can show your business plan to investors and banks. Here are some of the main elements you should include in your online boutique’s business plan.
1. Market research.
You may have done some market research when deciding on products and market segments, but now it’s time to get a deeper understanding of your target audience. You can complete this section by completing the following exercises:
Create buyer persona
Really consider the specific customer who wants to buy the product. You can include demographic information, such as their age, geographic location, and income. Then, take further steps and record which social media platform they prefer, who they trust the product information most, and information about their personal style.
Conduct market analysis
You can confirm here:
- Is there a market for your product?
- How big is the current market?
- How fast is the market growing?
Make sure that when you do research, you can find numerical data to back up your claims.
Complete keyword research
When you are trying to attract people to find you, how you talk about your brand and products makes a big difference. You want to conduct keyword research to ensure that the correct terms are used. This will also help your SEO when building an online store.
Perform SWOT analysis
This is a good way to determine the competition situation. First, you can identify the main competitors. Then, you create a table to check the advantages, disadvantages, opportunities, and threats. This will help you compete with your competitors in the market.
2. Business model.
Once you have a good understanding of your ideal customer and the entire market, it’s time to decide on a business model. The model you choose will also help inform you of the type of business license you need. When it comes to clothing and accessories, most online retailers fall into one of four categories:
Print on demand
For this business model, you just add a certain type of logo or design to the garment when the customer places an order. You can do this yourself, or you can use a third-party printer.
This is the most labor-intensive and cost-intensive model among the models because you have to make everything yourself or spend money to find someone else to make it for you.
A private label, sometimes called a white label, means that you are working with the manufacturing company that produces the product. Then you can add the brand.
Direct selling requires the least investment but faces the fiercest competition. Shippers are essentially intermediaries, they order from third-party companies for direct delivery to customers.
Related Reading: How to Start an Online Boutique: Checklist & Step-by-Step Guide
3. Financial plan.
This is part of your business plan where you can estimate costs and revenue.
Here are some questions you want to answer:
- How much do you invest, and what do you need from external sources?
- What expenses do you expect to spend (for example, production, transportation, materials)?
- How do you plan to price the product?
- How much do you expect to earn in the first year?
If you are not sure how to calculate these numbers, then this is a great opportunity to contact your network and see if someone can help you plan your finances.
4. Marketing strategy.
Finally, you can develop an advanced marketing strategy. Although every business owner should conduct basic marketing, this is your opportunity to define your startup strategy.
For example, you may need to focus on influential marketers to build expectations and excitement. You can work with micro-influencers to promote your online boutique on their social media platforms.
You should also make sure that you have a press release or some kind of plan for major announcements.
Since there are multiple ways to market your business, you need to narrow your business from the start and focus on the channels that have the greatest impact on your target customers.