How to start an online boutique is a dream come true for fashion enthusiasts. You can sell clothing as you would normally do in a physical business, but you do not have to spend on a huge capital like shelves, the brick-and-mortar store, employees, electricity, and so much more.
The physical boutique store is something that needs a lot of resources. The thing you need to fear is that people may not even buy what you sell, and you end up with a massive financial loss.
With an online boutique, the financial risk is so small, and you do not even have to give up your day job. You can operate it while you are 100% employed.
But, where and how do you even start? I will show you the steps you need to follow to build a successful online boutique.
Find The Right Suppliers
The first step is to determine what kind of clothing you want to sell. There are so many types of clothes for different occasions and weathers. There are also different clothing designs for different personalities and cultures.
Do you want to sell bikinis, coats, suits, or children’s clothing? Do you want to focus on female or male clothing? Should you decide on female only, do you want to sell dresses, tops, pants, or just shoes?
This is an important factor so you can concentrate on a specific market and clothing type. If you try to sell everything, you might find yourself overwhelmed with questions. Sometimes, you may not even be able to cope with the demand.
It is also frustrating for a customer not to find the right item he is looking for, so make sure you only focus on one area at a time before you expand.
Consider the time of the year and the number of products you can sell at any season. Swimming trunks will have a boost in sale during summer, but you may not sell a piece during winter.
The next step is to find a supplier. In the online world, you can find hundreds of suppliers globally. If possible, you must choose a supplier from within your country, provided that you can buy the products at a low price.
Just to give you examples, you can find suppliers in online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, AliExpress, Alibaba, Chinabrands, and so much more.
Choose Between Wholesale or Dropshipping
The second major step is that you have to decide if you will do wholesale or to dropship. In wholesale, the typical set-up is to buy a lot of products and store them in your house. The prices are really low, and you can make huge profits with this kind of model.
The other option is to dropship. With this business model, you do not have to stock up on your products. There is no need to keep your own inventory.
You will be displaying the products of your suppliers, and then market them.
Once a customer makes a purchase, you will receive the payment, and you will use that payment to buy the product he ordered. In this case, you have to go to that supplier’s website, make the order, and use your customer’s details for shipping.
Both of these models have different advantages and disadvantages, which we will explore below. It is important to make this decision because the way you will operate these two business models are completely different.
Some people prefer wholesale because of cheap prices. They also want the products to be in their homes so they can appropriately brand them. However, some people who are new to online selling do not have a huge capital so they would rather do dropshipping.
So before you learn how to start an online boutique, let's look ate some of the pros and cons.
Wholesale Pros and Cons
In wholesale, you need to buy the products in bulk. The products will be shipped to you, and you will be in charge of shipping them to your customers.
- You can buy products at a very cheap cost
- You can sort the products and ensure quality
- You can reduce customer returns
- You can manage your inventory and know which one still has stock
- You can raise your prices as much as you want since very few people will be selling the same product as yours
- You can brand your own product by changing the labels on the clothing before shipping them
- You can only buy in bulk, and this requires a lot of money
- You must ship your own product, which means you need to charge more money
- You need to package your own product, which means you also have to spend on boxes
- You will wait for a long time to receive your orders
- You will shoulder the cost of returns if there are low-quality products sent to you
- You will work harder sorting through your inventory each day
- If the products do not get sold, they are your losses
Dropshipping Pros and Cons
In this method, you will only buy a product after a customer buys it from your boutique store. The difference between your price and the supplier’s price is your profit.
- No capital required except building your website
- You can buy products at small prices if you find the right supplier
- You do not need to ship the items to your customer because the suppliers will ship the products directly to your buyer
- You do not have to manage inventory every day; there are apps that can do this for you
- You can manage the business anywhere. Since you do not have an inventory, all you need to do is to accept orders online and place these orders online; you do not have to check in your house if you still have the product
Because of the low capital required, you have a lot of competition. There are thousands of people who do this, and you may find yourself competing to the bottom by lowering your prices
- You have no control over the product quality. It is very likely that you will not see the actual product you are selling because you do not order them for yourself.
- You cannot choose your shipping method, the supplier will ship using the cheapest method, which means the quality of the service is poor, and it will take a long time before the customer receives your product.
Build Your Online Boutique Store
Now that you know the pros and cons of both business models, it is time to decide and build your boutique store. The type of business will help you decide which platform to use.
So are you ready to finally learn how to start an online boutique? The secret is starting your own online boutique store!
When it comes to building your store, you can use some of the online platforms we have access to today.
Examples of platforms you can use for your online store are WordPress, Magento, WooCommerce, and Shopify. These sites offer different prices, but all of them are certainly affordable.
The easiest to use, and the most popular among online store operators, is Shopify. It is a tool where you can build a web store even if you have no knowledge about computer coding or programming.
The Shopify platform lets you create a store, put a payment processor so you can accept online payments, and it has thousands of apps that you can use to make your online boutique really look and function as a professional online store.
Create Your Store Terms and Conditions
Terms and Conditions are your rules and policies.
Although it is true that no one actually reads this, it is always better to have it to cover yourself from legal actions. The coverage of your terms and conditions should be the ones shown below.
Shipping your products means you have to depend on the shipper for your products to arrive. In this page, you have to tell your customer how long it will take before he receives his product.
In some cases, it also makes sense that you tell the customers where your products come from so they know how long to wait.
This page should also contain information about shipping costs.
Returns and Refunds
When will you issue a refund and what are your rules? Will you issue a refund just because a customer requested for it? Or should he ship the product back to you first?
Who will pay for the return shipment? All of these must be in your terms and conditions. You need to be specific about costs, responsibilities, timelines, and so much more.
Since nobody reads the terms and conditions, you need to put the important details on your site where it is visible, like your product page.
Market Your Boutique Products
The next step is to market your products.
To properly market your product, you need to know who your target customers are, and then decide where you find them.
To find your target market, you have to know their profile. You must identify your customers’ gender, location, age.
These are important details about your customer profile. Once you start marketing, your advertisement or banners must attract these people.
If you are selling male clothing, then you definitely have to market it to men. If you specialize in hip-hop clothing, then you have to market it to teenagers, in places where hip-hop is the popular kind of music.
Next, you need to choose how you want to do the marketing. You can use many social media channels because it is easier to reach people, and the advertisements also cost lower.
You can also advertise on Google, YouTube, and other platforms. If there is a blog where you can advertise, you can make a deal with the blog operator.
It is your choice how you want to market, but the most effective is by using social media paid advertisements because if you do this, you are in full control. You can change how the ad is seen, who will see it, and which countries the ad will be shown to.
Always Keep Up With Trends
Fashion easily changes over time. The hot products today may not be hot anymore by next year. What this means is that you have to be consistently active in looking for trends.
If you are going to operate your business as a wholesaler, you may want to keep a small amount of inventory for each design. Once they are sold, you can easily move forward with new products. Keeping a large inventory is a bad idea. By the time the hot trend is gone, no one will buy your surplus products anymore.
But if you are in dropshipping, then you do not have to worry about this because all you have to do is to change the products listed on your website. However, you still need to be active in the fashion scene, so you know which products to display.
The key here is always to do your research. It is best to be on the lookout for new products every month. Check fashion magazines and subscribe to them. For every change in season, you may also want to display products fit for the season.
If it is summer, sell swimming clothing. If it is winter, sell coats.
Are You Ready To Start Your Store?
An online boutique is a great store to start because clothing is one of the basic needs of humans. We all need something to wear. It is only a matter of identifying what kind of clothes you have to sell.
Selling clothes is not like selling specialty products. Specialty products like drones and other electronics go out of fad easier than clothes. With clothes, you can target all kinds of people. With drones, you can only target people who are interested in gadgets and toys.
Before you get started, make sure you have a list of the steps you need to take. Take the time to understand how you will go about each step, and try to think of the problems that will come along the way so you can prepare how to fix them.
I how this articles showing you how to start an online boutique will kick start your online journey!