Starting an online clothing boutique can sound heaven to you – where your passion meets your idea, where your creativity is worn, where colorsare played by threads and where brand embodies style.
But you don’t have the slightest idea from where to start right?
Don’t you worry; our guide will guide you through from the beginning of how to start an online boutique. This is a simple guide that covers everything, from plans to branding.
How to Start an Online Boutique
This could be an outlet for you to express your thoughts and personal ideas, hope you make the best use of it. Let’s begin, shall we?
1. Setting-up a Business Plan
A lengthy business plan may seem a wary idea and may also scare you off, but this type of business plan will help you survive and guide you properly, especially if you’re planning to pitch for a funding or a loan.
If you already have decided on the financial part or have enough funding without needing the help of bank loans and angel investors, a lean plan would also work out for you.
Lean plan will act as a support system to help solidify your planning process and strategize marketing.
Read this business plan guide to have an idea how a business plan can be created.
2. Where Would You Set-Up Your Boutique?
You will have to choose a platform for your online boutique store.
Generally, there are two ways you can sell your clothes online. You can take advantage of the blind-blowing platforms, Etsy or Amazon Shopping, both generate great organic traffic. While Etsy lets you establish your own brand, Amazon is a leading online shopping forum.
Etsy is truly a newbie’s dream that gives you an opportunity to grow without worrying about top-notch brands eating up your presence.
Or, you can provide a different shopping experience by launching your own website, layout and ordering experience.
Both have their own pros and cons. However, your decision should be truly based on the kind of product you sell, how much control you want and the customisation of shopping experience you provide.
Learn the difference between having your own site and selling on Etsy to have clarity.
3. Picking Your Brand Name
You have to pick a name that you love and that you can live with for the rest of your life. Don’t settle on the first name that comes to your mind. Your online boutique should be no-brainer. Make sure you pick a name that represents your product line, your personality and your ideas.
You should be proud of your brand and not cringe by the thought of your boutique’s name years from now.
Don’t create a funky name that can be irritating after telling a couple of times to your friends and colleagues, like “Rihanas’ Super Cool Fashion Hub”.
Make sure your business name is easy to pronounce and others are equally comfortable telling their friends about it.
Own your name and wear it like a badge. The name selection process will perhaps take some time and so be it. You can also decide on the name when everything is done, just before you start printing the invitations.
4. Develop Your Online Boutique’s Personality
This is the fun part: you have to create a cohesive aesthetic style for your boutique.
You have to develop an image of your boutique and bring forth a unique style. Some of the questions you should be asking yourself when creating a style include:
- Who are your ideal customers?
- What is their age?
- What do they love?
- What do they hate?
- What colors and fabrics do they like?
- What kind of accessories do they find trendy?
- Food, yes what food do they eat and like?
- Do they like weddings or parties?
Although food, wedding and parties are out of syllabus questions, they play a major role in developing Aesthetic Cohesion. Your brand should tell a story and hence all items should fit in properly.
Your products should look unified and tell their whereabouts – who they are, why they are, what are thecolors, textures and style.
5. Establish a Unique Brand Image
Similar to building an aesthetic and personal style of your boutique, you have to build your business’ brand image. Your brand image will represent your boutique’s cohesive style, product selection, chosen name, target customer, boutique website feel and look, features, and social media handles.
Some of the questions you need to answer while building your brand image are:
- Isyour brand fun or cheesy or bubbly or handsome?
- Is it feminine, with bright colors and attractive fonts?
- Is it masculine with pastel colors and smart fonts?
- What is the décor of your brand?
Or you may want to go sleek with minimal features and neat lines. Your brand is everything you do, from the name font to the clothing sizes, from the logo to the content you post on social media, from the dresses you make to the ambassador you choose.
6. Sourcing Your Products
Now that you know what kind of products you want to sell, what should be your brand story and how your boutique will look like, the time has arrived for you to actually choose or find your products for your online boutique.
There are several ways you can choose your products and sourcing them. We have gone over a few sources you can try to use:
- Reach out to Etsy sellers. Send a message to your favorite Etsy seller who makes gorgeous Indian Kurtas. Try Etsy Wholesale, as it is created for this purpose only.
- Check with your friends and relatives; they may have the skills and talent, all you need is to push them forward.
- Ask your favorite makers at your local Sunday or Wednesdaymarket if they’d be interested to sell in your store.
- Search through eBay for overseas manufacturers.
- Scour local antique shops, exhibitions and flee market, and handpick items you really find impressive.
Or you can just go directly to a manufacturer and ask them if they will be interested to manufacture your designs.
7. Make Products that Define Charisma and Out-of-the-Box
You may have everything in place – best brand, cohesive personality and a well-developed online boutique – but if your products can’t spell any of these, you will soon fall out.
Your products should be given a chance to shine. So, while making great quality and unique product line, you have to showcase your products beautifully. Only then people will like them and buy them
How much ever you make your website visually pleasing and rich with user experience, finally it’s the product that will take forward your brand legacy.
Good lightings, reduced background noise, HD photography, and a potential someone to model them are the perfect group of elements to make your products shine out.
You can either do it yourself and reduce your investment cost or hire a professional and double your profits.
8. How Will You Ship Your Products?
Next step would be planning your shipments. It is a crucial step as you may likely lose customers if your shipping costs are too high or shipping time is too slow.
You will need to contact your city’s courier or shipment companies and find out their packages and shipping solutions.
Sign an agreement so that everything is in writing. Your shipping partner plays a huge role in your order delivery/ return service. You don’t want your orders to be delivered with torn packages and broken items, do you?
Moreover, you have to develop a shipping strategy for your online store. Always remember offering free shipping may not always be the solution and that you will have to consider a company that offers overseas shipping as well, provided you want your boutique to sell in the international market as well.
9. Take Full Advantage of Social Media
Social media is the current biggest platform for marketing and selling creative stuff, such as fashion, jewellery, food, make-up and cosmetics, shoes, accessories and gadgets. An online boutique will definitely need visual sites to appeal to niche customers.
So, your first two preferences should be on Instagram and Pinterest.
Share new arrivals, share visuals of models flaunting your clothing and share images that encapsulate the brand’s aesthetics on Instagram.
You can snag followers by creating astimulating Pinterest page, for those followers who do not follow social media advertisements.
Furthermore, do open a blog page on your website and position yourself as a leader in your industry. Blogs will potentially generate more customers, and they will also solidify your brand image and make yours anauthority site in your niche market.
10. Finally, Use Influencers, Brand Ambassadors and Blogger Outreach
When it comes to marketing online via social channels, it’s a good idea that you make use of influencers and domain leaders to your advantage. Influencers are those who already have an ardent group of followers on their social media profiles.
Contact bloggers, influencers and bloggers from the same niche as yours, send them your product sample and ask if they’d be interested in sharing your product with their followers or review your product through their blogs.
We have tried to cover everything you need to know to start an online boutique. If our article helped you in your business, do share your experience in comments below.