Into Fashion? Then Read This 7 Step Starting an Online Boutique Guide!
If you love fashion then starting an online boutique can represent an excellent way to generate income for yourself! Check out this guide to get started!
The US fashion industry is astonishingly powerful given the nearly 390 billion dollars it generates every year. With no end in sight as to how high fashion’s revenue can go, now is the time to open a business in this space.
If you’re considering taking your love of clothing and channeling it into starting an online boutique, know that despite the many opportunities that exist in fashion, the market has become crowded and most boutiques will fail.
Still, with a solid plan in place and the will to do the work, you can find success!
Our team walks you through a series of pragmatic steps that you can take to make the most out of your boutique ambitions.
1. Write a Business Plan
Almost every successful business starts out on paper. As a matter of fact, if you need to source funding, you absolutely need to have a business plan.
Business plans can be intimidating for new entrepreneurs but in truth, they’re not that hard to make. Where the work lies is in critically thinking about what you’re selling, who you’re selling to, through which channels and for how much.
Put together a business plan that you can use as a road map as you get your business off the ground and be open to feedback so you can identify any holes that might be in your plan.
2. Pick a Web Platform
Since this post is about starting an online boutique, we’re assuming that somewhere in your business plan, you mention having a website. Let’s talk about how to get one!
Websites are easier than ever to build thanks to content management systems (CMS) like WordPress. Your job is to pick the best CMS for your needs and for your level of tech comfort.
If you’re semi-tech savvy and don’t mind doing a little bit of extra work up front, the best content management solution for your boutique is probably WordPress coupled with the eCommerce plugin WooCommerce. If you’re looking for a turn-key solution that requires a nominal handle on tech, look into Shopify.
As a side note, if you choose to use WordPress, head to WordPress.org as opposed to WordPress.com. WordPress.org is where the content management system’s free and flexible web development tools are distributed.
3. Craft Your Site
With your CMS picked and installed on whichever platform that you use for web hosting (WordPress and Shopify both offer in-house web hosting options), it’s time to start customizing your website!
Every mainstream CMS has a plethora of templates that you can choose from to spit out a beautiful website in minutes. Given that fashion is all about style and aesthetic, we recommend going with a template that leans on visuals and strikes onlookers as alluring. You can get feedback from friends to see which templates that you’re considering meet that criteria.
Consider hiring a pro to tweak your template so your website looks unique. There’s nothing worse than having a website that looks the same as thousands of others because everybody is using the same template.
4. Source Your Products
Are you importing clothes for your boutique? Are you making them yourself?
However you’re getting your hands on merchandise, make sure that your source is reliable so you don’t run out of stuff to sell. Also, be aware that most online shoppers will expect to have their purchases in-hand within a week of purchasing.
Keep that expectation in mind as you construct your shipping workflow.
5. Start Sharing Pictures
Fashion is visual so your marketing plan should be too. Start sharing enticing images of your pieces on social media channels and via business cards that you hand out locally.
You could also create a visual blog on your website that steps people through how to wear pieces that you sell so they can maximize their look.
6. Expand Your Sales Channels
In a perfect world, you’d drive the majority of your sales through your website since you have the most control over that platform. To maximize your reach, consider selling your pieces on Amazon, on instagram with promotions from a lifestyle blogger, eBay and through Walmart’s digital marketplace as well.
All of those platforms will take a fee out of your sales but you can up-charge to offset those losses.
7. Make Your Packaging As Unique As You
Packaging is a missed opportunity in eCommerce so keep it in mind when creating a fashion store.
On one hand, you could send your items to people in a plain brown box. On the other hand, you could have a box that’s adorned with your company’s name, social media handles and has little compartments for each of the clothing items that your customer receives.
We like option B.
8. Ride Your Winners, Ditch Your Losers, Keep Growing
As you scale your business, you’ll see some items rise to the top of the sales charts and others fall to the bottom. Depending on how you source/stock inventory, you’ll probably want to start phasing out losing items and coming up with ways to boost the profile of and improve upon your winners.
When you do that, your boutique will become leaner and a lot easier to grow.
Starting an Online Boutique Is Easier Than You Think
All of the tools that are at the average person’s disposal today make it easier than ever to build an internet-based company. So, if your dream is starting an online boutique, go for it!
With a little bit of persistence, technological patience and the will to succeed, good things will happen for you.
If you love reading about fashion half as much as you love wearing it, check out more of the content on our website to read our newest fashion write-ups!