Thinking about starting your own online business? Here are ten tips on how to start an online boutique that will help you find success.
Online business has never been more profitable.
E-commerce is thriving. Each and every year sees a rise in the amount of revenue generated online versus in-store.
By 2040, experts predict that 95% of all shopping will be done via the internet.
Clearly, the internet is where to be for all aspiring store-owners.
But that doesn’t make it an easy ride. After all, competition increases with popularity. More online stores make it harder for new businesses to differentiate themselves.
Success in the thriving industry of e-commerce is far from guaranteed. That’s especially true of people starting new boutique stores, where fashion and is already a competitive market.
Thinking about setting up your own online boutique? Not sure where to start and want some advice on how to be successful?
Keep reading for 5 essential steps on how to start an online boutique and check out our resource page! There we explain everything we use to make money with our blogs and web store.
Table of Contents
1. Decide Your Niche
First off, you need to figure out what you want to sell.
You may already have an idea. Be it designer fashion, top of the line makeup, accessories, or whatever. That’s all well and good.
But do your market research. What’s already out there? A dozen established industry-leading boutique stores may already be crushing sales in these areas.
They’ll likely push you out of the market unless you have a unique selling point. You need to bring something new to the table. To do that, it’s often better to start small.
Try narrowing down your niche to offer something specific. Look at subcategories (such as toddler designer clothing) and then sub-subcategories (like girls-only toddler designer clothing).
Doing so will forge your place in the market. As you become better-known, and sales increase, then you can expand into other areas.
2. Plan Ahead of Time
All successful businesses start with a business plan.
It’s essential. You need to plan ahead of time how your business will proceed and succeed.
Of course, it’s all forecasting. But that doesn’t mean it’s just blind guesswork. Research online, speak with other people in the industry. Seek advice on what to expect on the road ahead.
The foundational component of a plan is your goals. Layout SMART financial milestones predicting business growth. Next, figure out exactly how (and when) you plan to get there. This includes factors such as how you’ll market your products and boutique store online.
Business plans make it easier to secure outside investment. Would-be investors get an idea for when they might expect a return on the money they may provide.
Never written a plan before? Here’s some top advice on how to do it.
3. Figure Out Inventory
A store isn’t a store without inventory!
First, you need to decide how you’ll source your inventory. Then you need to figure out how to acquire it. Of course, this step assumes you have start-up capital.
Here are a few ways to get your hands on your stock.
Dropshipping is a good inventory sourcing option when you’ve got no start-up capital.
Here, as opposed to purchasing inventory upfront, you rely on third-party suppliers.
In this business-model customers purchase through your website. However, the order is fulfilled by the actual supplier of the goods.
You send the orders to the supplier, who then packs and ships them. This means you don’t have to purchase stock upfront, nor handle the goods.
Alternatively, you could source from wholesalers.
These businesses buy the product in bulk direct from manufacturers for discount prices. They then sell it onto you at wholesale prices (less than retail price).
Business owners tend to buy from wholesalers as well. The more you buy, the more you save.
You save money and have total control of your inventory (of course, you’ll need somewhere to store it). However, there may be minimum order requirements (you have to buy a certain amount of stock).
If the product doesn’t sell, then you’re stuck with a mass of useless inventory that’s taking up space.
Of course, you can also sell products you make yourself!
In this case, your only costs are for materials, equipment and time. However, this will be harder to scale up as your business becomes more successful.
At the end of the day, with no money to invest upfront, it’s harder to get started.
If dropshipping doesn’t appeal (after all, you aren’t in control of the product), then you may want to start the process by saving up (here are some top saving tips).
Alternatively, seek investment/loans from friends and family. Of course, a personal loan from the bank is another option.
4. Get a Website
Your website will be central to the success of your boutique.
It’s worth investing in.
Thankfully, you don’t need a mass of software development insight to get started. Sites like WordPress and Squarespace provide easy solutions. They provide all the tools and (most of the) analytics to set up and run an e-commerce store. Many of them you can start on for free.
Take some time to decide which e-commerce platform is right for you. Then purchase your domain name, organize hosting, and set up the site.
Can’t get it working as required? Consider working with a developer (though this will cost you).
5. Register the Business
You need to register your business.
This is the scary legal and tax-related side of things you may know nothing about!
The various steps here include:
- Deciding between a sole proprietorship and limited liability company (LLC).
- Filing the necessary paperwork in accordance with the prior decision.
- Set up a business bank account.
- Get a federal tax ID number (social security number may suffice).
- Find out tax requirements.
This can all seem daunting, especially if you’ve had no prior experience here. But don’t let it stop you. Consult a legal professional if you’re stuck.
Exactly How to Start an Online Boutique
There you have it: 5 must-have tips on how to start an online boutique.
The internet is the future of commerce. In the coming years, people will start shopping online in even greater numbers. Now is as good a time as any to start an online business.
However, it’s important to know what you’re doing before diving headfirst into the process.
Hopefully, this post has highlighted the key steps in making your online boutique a reality.
Looking for more e-commerce-related advice? Check out this piece on how to start selling your things online.