If you want to learn how to start an online boutique, now’s the perfect opportunity.
There’s never been a better time to break into the online retail industry.
E-commerce sales are expected to reach over $2.8 trillion dollars this year. It’s estimated that online retail purchases will equal 11.5% of all retail sales for 2018, up from 10% of sales the year before. By 2020, e-commerce sales are expected to soar past $4 trillion dollars.
Read on to find out how to start an online boutique in just a few simple steps!
The Recipe For Success
Today, anyone can start their own business online. But, not everyone who starts a business is guaranteed success.
In fact, the grim reality is that most start-ups won’t make it. According to a study by Statistic Brain, over 50% of all U.S. companies fail in just 5 years. And, a whopping 70% won’t make it to their 10th anniversary.
But, if you know what it takes to be successful, it’s possible for you to beat the odds.
Starting an online boutique might be the easy part. The recipe for success, however, takes a little more work.
How to Start an Online Boutique
Starting an online store was once much more complicated than it is for today’s start-ups. But, these days, there are tools and resources available that make it possible for practically anyone to be up and running in no time.
1. Devise a Business Plan
Every business needs a plan. Depending on your size, business capital, and your vision for the future, your plan can be simple, or complex.
If you’re just starting out in business and/or retail and have your funding in place, a simple business plan will most likely do the trick.
Decide on your business’s name
Choose a name that you like, but also a name that will draw attention from your target audience, if possible.
Choose a retail niche
A boutique is slightly different than other retailers because it tends to sell similarly-grouped merchandise.
For example, a boutique might specialize in girls clothes. And, often, a boutique retailer will sell items belonging to fewer brand-names than what’s available at a major department store. Or, they might even offer merchandise from local artists, or handmade items, instead of national or global brands.
Your business plan should include both short-term and long-term goals. You should also be sure to list actionable steps to meet your goals.
Make sure that you have figured out a way to measure your progress. Also, be sure to set aside time each quarter to evaluate how much progress you have made. Then you can decide whether or not your current strategy is effective or if you need to make changes.
2. Choose a Platform
There are hundreds of e-commerce platforms that you can choose from. Once you have chosen your niche and know your budget, you may be able to narrow your choices considerably.
All platforms have rules or guidelines so make sure you review the ones that you are considering. They might influence your decision. In some cases, the merchandise that you are allowed to sell might exclude certain items, so you want to be sure that the items you are selling will not create an issue.
Once you have chosen a platform, such as Wix, Shopify, eBay, or one of the many others, then you can start designing your online store.
3. Design Your Store
Many popular platforms give you the option of using a store-builder to set up your business. If you are a beginner to online retail, or if you are not consulting a professional company to assist you with details, a store-builder may be the way to go.
Choose appropriate items, fabrics, colors, and themes to attract your ideal customers.
Prior to going live with your online business, you need to decide which forms of payments you will accept. Today’s advanced technologies make it possible to accept a wide range of payments online.
You also need to link the method by which you will get paid. You can choose to deposit funds into a bank account, or perhaps you would like to use your Paypal or WePay account to receive money from your sales.
Choose how you will ship your merchandise to customers once they place an order.
You can set up an account with most shipping companies to ship your business products from home. It may be a good idea to review your options prior to settling on a decision.
In the beginning, it can make sense to choose the most economical option. But, keep in mind that as you begin to produce more sales, you might need to consider other shipping options.
You should also make sure that you factor in the costs of shipping when you plan your customer’s check-out process.
6. Other Considerations
Now that you have covered the basics, you can focus your attention on fine-tuning your boutique to attract more traffic. And, you can spend time on the design of your website and user experience, as well.
Even though your items are easy to list, it doesn’t mean that they are easy to sell. The way that you photograph items and display your merchandise makes a big difference to shoppers. Retail tends to be a competitive industry so you should try to make your store and the buying process as attractive as possible to your customers.
7. Market Your Online Store
There is no limit to marketing possibilities.
You can choose to market your store via social media alone. Or, you can enlist email, video, and additional low-cost marketing techniques to attract new visitors.
You might also create special sales, coupons, or frequent-shopper benefits in exchange for customers’ signing up for notifications or spending a certain amount on your store’s merchandise.
You also have the option of enlisting professionals to market your store or to help you design a stellar website.
Get More Small Business Tips
Now that you know how to start an online boutique, it’s up to you to make sure that it’s successful.
If your store is a part-time project, you may choose to limit the amount of time you spend on it. But, if you want to create enough income to go at it full-time, it will probably require a significant investment of your time and other resources in order to get off the ground.
Want more small business tips for entrepreneurs?
Check out this post for more online marketing advice!