As an aspiring entrepreneur looking to break into e-commerce, I’m constantly wondering – what exactly does it take to successfully launch a profitable online boutique? With so many complex moving pieces from securing suppliers to marketing, what are the essential steps to get a boutique store up and running?
As someone who has been through the process of launching my successful online boutique, I’ve learned the blueprint firsthand.
In this intro guide, I’ll outline the key foundations, from niche selection to product mix to order fulfillment, based on my experience taking an online boutique from zero to profitability.
Let’s dig into the critical phases and concrete steps for launching an online boutique built for long-term growth and profits!
What is An Online Boutique?
An online boutique is unlike a regular clothing store with jewelry and accessories. Boutiques are stores with the latest collection of all the recent trends of eCommerce, whether it is clothing, accessories, or jewelry. It is a great business idea for those who keep up with fashion trends and are passionate about fashion. With so many technological advancements, it is easy to start an online boutique.
You can start by finding your perfect niche and then store a few items at your home as soon as your business progresses; you can increase your inventory only when you’re confident it will sell. It would help if you kept up with all the latest fashion trends to introduce unique items your audience will like and instantly buy.
Why Should You Start An Online Boutique?
Here are some of the key reasons why starting an online boutique can be a profitable business idea:
Low Overhead Costs
Unlike a physical store, an online boutique has minimal overhead expenses. You can run it from home without the costs of retail space rental, utilities, inventory storage, etc. This makes profitability easier.
An online boutique opens up access to customers worldwide rather than just locally. You can sell to anyone by marketing through social media and running ads.
Passive Income Potential
After the initial setup, an online store can practically run itself and earn money passively. You can outsource order processing and focus more on marketing.
Online retail platforms provide rich data about customers and sales that physical stores lack. You can optimize operations using data-driven decisions.
Owning an online boutique allows you to set your schedule and work flexibly from home. You don’t need fixed opening hours like a retail location.
The online model is highly scalable. You can quickly expand to new markets and geographies through marketing without added overhead.
Low Startup Costs
Beginning an online boutique requires little capital, unlike opening a physical boutique. Marketing and inventory are the main upfront costs to earn back quickly.
In summary, an online boutique can be very profitable thanks to minimal overhead, global reach, passive income potential, data insights, schedule flexibility, easy scalability, and low startup costs compared to physical retail.
Is an Online Boutique a Profitable Business?
After the hit of the COVID-19 pandemic, every retail brick-and-mortar shop has started its online business. But still, one question arises: “Is an online boutique profitable?”
Launching an online boutique is an impulsively growing and profitable business if executed strategically. ZipRecruiter claims that the annual salary of an online boutique entrepreneur starts from $17,000 and goes up to $248,000.
According to Statista, the online boutique industry generated $180.5 billion as of 2021, and this market revenue will increase to $295.7 billion by 2025.
So, you can imagine the craze of this industry.
Moreover, if you look at some well-known online boutiques, they have generated insane revenue in the past years. For example –
Princess Polly has generated $75m in the US Fashion Market in 2021. Likewise, the annual revenue of Beginning Boutique as of 2021 was $8m. Another well-known online boutique, Silk & Willow, crossed over $5m in the past year.
So, it’s obvious that online boutique sectors have a bright future in the upcoming genre.
A Few Must-Have Skills/Traits You Should Consider to Start an Online Boutique
You only need funding and a stable internet connection to start an online boutique. But is it easy to run an online boutique? The simple answer is no.
Starting an online boutique isn’t a cakewalk. It’s a time-consuming process. Even the most successful boutique entrepreneurs started from zero and learned from their mistakes.
Here are a few things you should consider before starting your own:
Success isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. It needs constant effort and dedication to reach height. You won’t get your first sale overnight as an online boutique entrepreneur. You’ll fail multiple times, and with a little trial and error, you’ll find your strategy. So, the way you approach your business makes a huge difference.
Time is a game-changer. As an online boutique entrepreneur, you should take charge of your time. Otherwise, It’ll seem overwhelming in the long run.
3. Marketing Skills
Entrepreneurship isn’t an easy nut to crack. You have to be a jack of all trades to ace it. Marketing is also one of them. Don’t worry; you don’t need to be an expert here, but a little knowledge in this field can lead you a long way.
And now, with the grace of the internet, you can access multiple premium marketing resources for free. For example:
- Hubspot Academy has a range of free marketing courses with certifications.
- Neil Patel’s YouTube channels are great resources for learning marketing.
- Sign Up for experts’ webinars and paid sessions.
4. Communication Skills
Best marketers never sell products; they sell emotion. How you communicate with your targetted audience and add value to their lives can take your business to the next level. They won’t think twice about leaving your site if you fail to connect with them. So, make sure you nurture them in every way possible.
How to Start an Online Boutique – 9+ Simple Steps To Follow
Now that you know what you need to become an online boutique entrepreneur, it’s time to guide you with some easy steps to start your own online boutique.
1. Choose Your Product Niche
Most people don’t follow their passion because they think they can’t compete with leading online businesses. But it’s just a myth.
You don’t need to devise a brilliant idea to ace the game. Finding your niche won’t be difficult once you are driven and passionate about this industry. All you have to do is to ask a few questions to yourself –
- What am I passionate about?
- Is there any demand for the product in the market?
- Can I sustain it in the long run?
- Who is my targeted audience, and how will my products help them?
Once you answer all these questions, it’ll be easier for you to develop a business idea.
If you have little knowledge about any industry, don’t hesitate to try. Keep experimenting and build your authority in that field. Even Micheal Mente and Mike Kranikolas, co-CEOs of Revolve Group, came up with the idea of an online clothing business with a bit of knowledge of the fashion industry, and they have raised around $600 million in sales in the last year.
2. Do Market Research and Find Your USP
Once you find your product niche, it’s time to find your USP. Do market research and develop a product that hasn’t been introduced yet by any big or small businesses. For example, Princess Polly claims it’s the only platform providing an instant-ready trendsetter look. So, it’s Princess Polly’s USP.
Likewise, find a problem that’s not yet solved and try to fill the gap by launching your products. Remember, filling the gap isn’t a one-time game. Stay updated with the market and brand your product accordingly.
3. Create Your Business Plan
Without a business plan, you might get distracted from your mission. So, before launching your brand in the market, set your business goal. Ask these questions to yourself:
- What’s my business goal?
- What resources Do I need for my business?
- In which way will I achieve that?
- How will I get my first sale?
- What’s my revenue goal in the first month?
Once you get all the answers, you have your business plan ready. Now, follow this roadmap to save time.
4. Develop Your Product
Now you have a clear understanding of your target market and business plan. So, it’s high time to develop your niche product.
When it comes to developing your products, most businesses follow certain business models –
- Dropshipping: If you don’t want any headaches with product stock or management, go for this business model. You’ll contact a wholesaler and pass the order to him without keeping any product stock.
- Print on Demand: In this business process, you’ll design the product ( clothing items, books, home decor) and send it to the wholesaler.
- Private Label: It’s also known as white-label. Here, you’ll partner with any manufacturing company, and they will shift the product to you.
- Reselling: In this business process, you buy products from another store and resell them with your own brand identity.
If you are new to this business, you can mix and match these models and set your own per your budget and time. At the start, it might seem overwhelming to you. But once you get habituated, you can easily choose the best fit for your online business.
5. Financial Management
This is the most important stage to strategize carefully to survive in this industry. Everything falls under this stage, from funding your products to shipping costs. So, before launching your product in the market, ask yourself:
- How much will I invest in product inventory?
- What will be the costs of my products?
- How much will I invest in paid marketing?
- Do I need any investors?
- What’s my revenue goal in the first month?
- How much profit do I want?
Once you clear all these questions, you’ll have a direct business plan roadmap. So, strategize it properly.
6. Brand Name and Brand Story
A compelling brand name/logo attracts everyone. It grabs the customers’ attention by building a strong business foundation. So, don’t forget to create a compelling and engaging brand name/logo to attract your targetted audience.
Let’s take an example –
When you visit the About Us page of Revolve, they have done this job so beautifully that their tagline itself says why they are the best fit for fashionistas.
Even they haven’t left one single chance to showcase their expertise. They have elaborated an impactful brand story that makes them stand out.
Now, if you are just starting and have nothing much to showcase, you can add your mission and what you are doing to achieve it. But make the brand name easy to pronounce and quirky to establish your brand identity.
7. Select An Online Store
Now, you have your products and business plan ready. It’s time to select a platform where you’ll sell your products. You might get confused in this stage as hundreds of website builders are available. Choosing one of them is very tricky.
For instance, Shopify is beginner-friendly but not appropriate for international growth. On the other hand, Bigcommerce is perfect for international growth, but you need an expert to set up your website.
Let’s see how you’ll create an online boutique on Squarespace-
First, log in to the official Squarespace website and select a template of your choice.
Next, click “Pages,” and the following screen will appear in front of you.
After that, tap on the “Go to Steps” button and complete the given requirements(Adding products, payment method, subscription plan, etc.). Your online store is ready.
So, it’s our recommendation to check the review of every platform and then take any decision.
Moreover, Instagram selling is now on the hike. Every big and small business is now on social media to increase brand awareness. So, create a page on every social media to attract potential clients.
You can’t sell a good product without marketing. When marketing is great, you can reach your customers in any situation. So, mass marketing is an unavoidable part of the journey of a successful online boutique. It builds your authority by showcasing how you can help out your customers. Remember, people buy products for their benefits, not for features.
Here are a few channels you should consider while marketing your business:
- Instagram Marketing: Being a visual platform, Instagram has become a go-to option for every boutique entrepreneur. You can show off your products or collaborate with influencers to create brand awareness here.
- SEO Marketing: One of the best marketing processes to organically get traffic to your sites. And, more traffic means more sales. You can boost your reach organically or pay for Google ADS.
- Influencer Marketing: Influencer marketing is trending nowadays. Brands pay social media influencers, and in return, they market the products to their followers. For example, Mamaearth uses mass influencer marketing to reach its target audience.
- Email Marketing: Most people say email marketing is dead now. But it’s one of the most effective ways to increase sales if done properly. Here you’ll have to send emails to the new and existing customers and update them about new launches.
- Facebook Ads/YouTube Ads: You can also run Facebook and YouTube ads to create brand awareness and boost sales.
9. Report and Analysis
Keeping track of your performance is among the most underrated hacks to grow your business. Once you reach your business goal, try to analyze – what mistakes you have made, how you can create a better strategy, and what worked for and what did not, and write them down on paper.
Now, you have a solid plan to grow your business better.
How to Build Credibility as a Leading Online Boutique
Most businesses fail to build a credible relationship with their customers. Consequently, either they lose sales or end up switching business plans. That’s why making a credible bond is necessary to lead your business to the next level.
Here we have compiled a few ways that will come in handy if you want to rule this industry:
- Content Marketing: Content fills the gap between your brand and your customers. In one way, it provides value by solving their pain points; conversely, it creates brand awareness among them. But remember, different kinds of content work for different funnel stages. For Example, Blogs and e-books work better for the top of the funnel, and case studies and papers work better for the bottom of the funnel. So, play this content marketing game wisely.
- Networking: Network is net worth. When you network with industry experts or potential customers, you get insights and thousands of profitable opportunities.
- Testimonials: People trust people, not the brand. So, once you make enough sales, ask for their reviews or testimonials and add them to your websites. It will boost brand authenticity and create a smooth shopping experience at the same time. Silk and Wilow have done a great job in this section by adding a separate section of customer reviews.
- Social Media Presence: Social media profiles work as testimonials. Over 60% of the population is now active on social media. So, as a founder or business owner, create a legit profile on social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.
Improvements To Your Online Boutique
After launching your online boutique, you need to closely monitor all the data to see what works for your store and what is not. Using this data, you can make the following changes to your store:
- Rigorously promote your best-selling products on the homepage of your online boutique.
- Test out new products in the category that are doing well for you.
- Using the shopping cart abandonment feature so that people don’t just add products to their cart without completing the purchase.
- If you get testimonials and reviews from your customers, then use them on the website to build trust among your audience.
- Offer discount offers on your lowest-selling products to see if they will start to get more sales. This will determine whether you should remove that product from the online store or keep them.
These are a few suggestions to improve your online boutique and increase your revenue.
Are You Ready to Start Your Online Boutique?
It might seem overwhelming for the first few years as an entrepreneur, but once you get habituated to the process, it becomes worth it at a point in time. After all, being your boss isn’t easy.
With time, you’ll learn every nitty gritty aspect of how to run a successful online boutique. But never rely on theory only. Take inspiration and guidance and implement it on your own. Never fear to experiment with new things!
Now, if you have doubts regarding this topic, please leave a comment. So, wake up and give wings to your dream.
It depends on your business type and the strategy you follow. But if you are starting out, you need an investment of around $500/month.
Every business needs investment. But if you don’t want to invest, go for Ecwid or create any page on Social media to run a free store.
You can sell everything in a boutique from clothing, makeup, skincare, shoes, and bags to home decor and gardening products.
Funding, marketing strategy, and a stable internet connection are enough to start an online boutique.