Starting an online boutique is a fun and exciting time for business owners. However, it’s also a time filled with lots of decisions and planning, especially for an online business. From finding a business idea to finding your target market, building anything from the bottom up takes time and research to begin, so we created a blueprint from the most sought out lessons for newbies. So without further ado, here are six essential steps for launching a successful online boutique!
1. Set up your online storefront
There are some actions to take with any online business plan at first, like setting up your storefront. Where will your shop’s dedicated space be? The truth is that you should have a presence on many different channels to diversify your marketing and your revenue. Will you have a website? Is your main way of selling through a social media platform? You should have both to get maximum reach, but know the strengths and weaknesses so you can maximize profit. Selling on your own website or ecommerce platform and promoting on a social media platform is an excellent way of generating sales and reaching potential customers.
Nonetheless, this is a crucial first step as this is where your clothing store or boutique will be located and where customers will be shopping.
2. Establish your brand
Branding is the look, feel, and consistency of a business. Effective branding is essential to all businesses but is especially important to boutiques. Starting, you will not have the same marketing budget as many of your competitors. That’s where branding comes in.
Branding is going to make you stand out from the competition and attract customers, so make it uniquely yours! It takes 5-7 impressions for a consumer to remember your brand, so get consistent with putting it out there. Everything from your logo, to your cover photo, to your webstore should match the look and feel of your brand.
Consistency can also be reflected in scheduling. If you want to keep your audience engaged, you must interact with them often. Schedule frequent content to keep them interested in you. If you plan on doing live sales, they should always be on the same weekday at the same time so your audience knows exactly when to join in the fun!
As an online clothing boutique, you will most likely face high competition. Recent years have shown an increase in online shopping, whether from a small business or an online retail clothing store. So, establishing a brand image and feel that’s unique to your boutique is important to help you stand out.
3. Establish relationships
Establishing relationships is a vital step in any business venture. This may feel like a strange task if you’re starting an online boutique. Luckily, it has been made easy with the use of social media.
Building a presence and engaging with people through social media can earn you a large and loyal customer fanbase. Social networks have a high concentration of people on the daily. Here you can find your target audience, engage with them, acquire them as customers, ask their opinions on product, serve them, and delight them.
With the use of CommentSold Comment Selling, you can easily extend your social media reach and establish more and more relationships on widely used platforms.
4. Know where to source your inventory
There are hundreds of thousands of wholesalers out there and plenty of websites that they operate from. It’s just a matter of finding a quality and trustworthy vendor. You will have to do your research before picking and choosing. Don’t be afraid to reach out to these businesses to ask them questions. Many display their contact info prominently throughout their page.
You may even meet wholesalers in person by attending apparel shows. Apparel shows are held all over the country and at various times of the year. These events are trade shows that are filled with prominent vendors from the wholesale fashion industry. At these shows, you can examine their sample product from their booth to determine if its right for you.
As a boutique owner, it’s important to find a wholesale clothing distributor or manufacturer you trust.
5. Find a method for inventory management
Familiarize yourself with ways to organize and track your inventory. If you have no understanding of your inventory availability, how will you know if you’re in danger of over or underselling? You won’t. Inventory management is vital to the success of your business. There are two ways to handle this process.
Although manual inventory management is not ideal, it might be necessary until you implement a software solution. Spreadsheet programs can help you keep organized until you’re ready to move to the next best option. Keep in mind that manual methods will take real discipline and time and is prone to human error. We recommend skipping this step if you have the resources to invest in a software solution.
Software is the ideal solution because it will help you automate the process of orders coming in and going out. You’ll always have an updated database of inventory. This must-have tool will give you a clear and accurate picture of your demand and supply.
6. Find a method for invoicing your customers
Like inventory management, you have the option of doing this process either manually or automating it.
Spreadsheet programs can also help you manually keep up with payment, non-payment, and waitlists. However, it suffers the same pitfalls of manual inventory management. Thus, it is not a long-term or scalable solution.
The quickest, easiest way to send timely invoices, reduce cart abandonment, and improve customer service is to use auto-invoicing software. Auto-invoicing software will send an instantaneous invoice to customers that claim items.
In addition to creating timely invoices, they will also be reliably accurate. Overcharging customers will lead to a tarnished brand reputation. Undercharging them can leave your bottom line lacking. Auto-invoicing will help paint a picture of your cash flow so you can put it to use by buying more inventory.
You may feel overwhelmed with starting an online boutique from scratch, especially at the beginning. Figuring out a business model, deciding whether you’ll be selling on an ecommerce platform, finding your target market, etc. can be confusing. This is normal! Good things take time to build.
However, if you set up an online storefront, establish your brand, build relationships, source your inventory, make a plan to manage that inventory, and orchestrate a way to invoice your customers, you will be on the exact path it takes to get your business running successfully. Overall, following this ultimate guide will be beneficial when preparing to start a successful online boutique business.