How to Start An Online Boutique: A Step by Step Approach
Are you thinking of starting your boutique but wondering about arranging funds for an upfront investment? Well, if you are, you do not need to worry because, in this article, we shall discuss how to start an online boutique – yes, your boutique and that too on cyberspace!
You will not need to arrange for a physical store and hire employees – follow the below steps and become your online boutique owner.
So without further ado, let's start!
How to open Online Boutique
Step 1: Business Plan
Starting an Online boutique requires you to develop a business plan because if you are not taking your time to create a plan, you will face difficulties later during day-to-day operations.
Include the below things in your plan.
- Business Model: Type of your business, how will you generate money? Decide on a Niche.
- Start-up Cost: An estimation of how much money will be required
- Revenue Forecast: How much revenue do you foresee that your business will generate
- Unforeseen Circumstances: Can you see any potential issues that might come along the way hampering the progress.
- Competition: A complete competitor analysis using SWOT is required
- Marketing Strategy: Identity which type of digital marketing strategies will be suitable for the business.
Note: You will have to fine-tune your business strategies with the ever-changing needs of the business.
Step 2: Branding
You could have the best products in your online boutique, but if your brand is not worthy enough to stands out, people will soon forget you. Your Business Purpose, Mission, Values, and Vision speak on behalf of your brand. So, make sure that you consider the below factors while deciding on your branding.
- Brand Values: It depicts your business philosophies, beliefs, and principles, the message you want to deliver to your prospects.
- Logo Designing: It's essential to design your meaningful logo so that it delivers your values.
- Colors combination: Choose one primary and complementary secondary colors. How do you want your online boutique to look Clean? Fresh? Traditional? Colors will drive.
- Delivering Trust: Be transparent in your business dealings. From responding with negative reviews to committed delivery time.
It is good practice to design your website prototype as part of this process because you can refer back to that prototype whenever you develop your online boutique.
Wondershare Mockitt is a design prototyping tool that will help you design your online boutique prototype in few easy steps.
- Register with Mockitt using your email address.
- Open Mockitt within your web browser and Create a new Project. You can either pick up a Template that is ready to be customized or start a new project from scratch.
- Once you start a new project, Mockitt will ask you about which type of prototype you would like to make. You can select screen sizes from Mobile, Web, Tablet, or more as per your requirements. You can also create custom screen sizes.
- Create a new project with a web layout. Once you are over that phase, the working screen will appear. Here you will spend most of your time while designing a prototype.
- On the right-hand side, you will see a library of widgets with the help of which you can place various design elements on your online boutique prototype.
- Explore them and add them using the Drag and Drop feature as per your requirements.
- Once you complete your prototype, create links between various designed screens to give it a feel of an actual website.
- Share the design with your stakeholders for any improvements, and keep on repeating the above steps till you finalize your online boutique design prototype.
Step 3: Registration
Ensure that your store is registered before it even starts selling; otherwise, you might get penalized by your state authorities. Address below processes before you start operations
- Business Structure: Select any of them based on your structure, Sole Proprietorship, LLC, or Corporation
- Registration with State: Check applicable rules and regulations with your state. For some business structure, you might need a license to operate.
- Finances: You will have to apply for a sales tax permit, so keep that in check
- Tax requirements: Once you start selling, ensure to adhere to your company's tax requirements
Step 4: Looking for Products and Suppliers
As we have mentioned, you should decide on your niche from the point you start with the business plan – it means determining what you want to sell.
If you want to know how to start an online clothing boutique or how to start an online clothing business from home, please be informed that the procedure is the same for every kind of clothes and accessories – and online boutiques based on the Dropshipping model can be entirely managed from home.
Now comes the supplier part – decide if you want to use a wholesaler or plan to become a dropshipping company.
As a Wholesaler: In this model, you would have to arrange a warehouse to store, pack, and ship products yourself. It has a few benefits that you have total control of your branding, and you can check the quality of products before shipping them out. But at the same time, it could cost you more money than the drop-shipping model because of storage, packaging, and shipping cost. You would also have to buy in bulk from a wholesaler, which could be costly at times.
As a Dropshipping company: You would be selling your supplier's products and responsible for your marketing. Your supplier will arrange, store, pack, and ship the product to your customers. But you would not be having your brand name mentioned on it. Also, you cannot check your items before sending them out.
Make sure to vet your suppliers for smooth day to day operations. You can request samples and must do some research yourself on your supplier.
Note: Before you even want to know how to start a business online for clothing, you should realize what kind of apparel inspires you. Stay within that sub-niche, which attracts you as this will help you to exercise your creative muscles.
Step 5: Ecommerce Platform
You can either use website builders like Shopify, Wix, etc. or go with WordPress. WordPress would work with WooCommerce to give you the features of a complete store. It depends upon you, how many features do you require.
Website builders are easy to learn, and you can set up your website in a few easy steps.
WordPress has a bit of a learning curve. And depending upon your capabilities, you can take up to a week to set up a website with WordPress. For WordPress, you will need to have web hosting first before you install it.
So, choose wisely.
Step 6: Starting online boutique on the eCommerce platform
Your domain will be the name of your online boutique, which will be your unique URL. You will need to purchase a domain and register it. Some website builders offer free domain names if you choose their premium plans.
Add product details: Write SEO optimized product descriptions, titles and make sure to upload high-quality images and that too from every possible angle. Focus on benefits.
Create Categories: Make sure to include different categories so that your visitors find it easy to navigate through your website.
Checkout Page: Do not make a complicated check out pages. Otherwise, you will receive a lot of abandoned cart emails. Make sure to ask only relevant information from your customers.
Payment Processing: Do set up all the popular payment processors such as PayPal, Stripe, square, and more to facilitate a bigger audience.
Shipping: Decide if you want to offer free shipping, real-time shipping, or a flat rate. Create shipping labels and a clear return policy. Decide on your shipping carriers such as UPS, FedEx, DHL, and more. Compare shipping rates of each carrier.
And then keep on devising and applying Marketing Strategies until your online boutique becomes a sought after brand.
By now, you must have understood how to start an online boutique. It is recommended not to reinvent the wheel as these steps will give you a good head start.
It doesn't matter if you want to know how to start an online clothing store or any accessory store; these process steps will benefit you as long as you intend to start an online boutique.