How to Start An Online Boutique in 2021? Step Wise Guide to Fulfilling Your Dreams
Having an own boutique is every textile and accessory designer’s dream. Now with digitalization and technology, most of the dreams are coming true. Statista estimates that the apparel and accessories online retail sector will generate over $153 billion in revenue by 2024. For people who are passionate about the fashion industry and have a knack for designing classy clothes and complimenting accessories, now is the time to step up and turn your skills into a full-time online business.
Running an online boutique and accessory store is now possible with just the availability of the internet and a laptop. Give your passion a direction in 2021. Even if you own a physical boutique, you can take a step up to the ladder of success by owning an e-commerce store to sell the masterpieces online and reach out to people outside your local premises. The silver lining, even students can come up with a full-fledged online boutique business to assess their talent in the market.
This article is step-wise guidance towards fulfilling your dreams of becoming an owner of a boutique. Stay Tuned as you will get everything you need to plan a startup in the apparel industry.
Key considerations before starting your online boutique
As far as it is lucrative, starting an online boutique is stressful too. It needs proper planning, practical insights, dedication, and consistency through an online business that requires comparatively less upfront cost. What it requires in abundance is time, patience, dedication, and a business plan. Here is what you need to consider before starting your own online boutique.
1. No Overnight Results
It is impossible to start making shedloads just in two or three days with any online business venture. Even after you have a full-fledged online setup, you have to dedicate your time and efforts to promoting, trust-building, and influencing your target audience. It is a consistent struggle. Even if you start making sales, you have to stress getting more attention & retaining your clients.
2. It is a Challenging Path
Especially if this is a pure startup for you and you are completely new to the industry you will have neck-to-neck competition from other cherished players in the market. You have to constantly prove and show the worth of your online brand. Highlight the Unique Selling Point and exclusivity of your brand while you stay motivated and believe in your brand throughout.
3. Legal Aspects are a must to consider
Check out all the legal aspects and documentation you need to complete before having your own online boutique. While there are no norms for obtaining the license to run an online boutique, you need to check with local authorities for state, city, and country permit conditions for inventory purchase, taxes, and securing a business name. As a business, you might need to register at the local regulatory office.
Steps To Build Your Own Online Boutique
1. Select Your Niche – Following your passion!!
An online business that just goes with your passion is the best thing ever. Everyone is passionate about something or the other in life. Some keep a heart for cycling, some for art, designing, cosmetics, and skincare. You just have to find your true passion and give an initial thought to starting an online business.
In fact, if you are skilled or hold a professional degree then it is a poor choice to hold yourself back in 2021. Internet and technology have answers to all your questions regarding starting your own business in 2021.
If you are passionate about starting your own online boutique and you are exploring the ideas then you have already started to keep a base for your business. Picking a niche will help you with market analysis and evaluate the scope of your boutique.
2. Market Analysis- See the practicality of your Business Idea
If you have a niche you are passionate about then you actually have a base of your market analysis. You cannot open a boutique without knowing its potential market, demand, and sustainability scope. Yes, passion alone isn’t enough.
Know market demand, target audience, and the loopholes that need to be fixed. How can you fix the challenges your potential audience is facing? Your online business will prosper on the condition that you give some solutions and benefits to your clients. Know what products should exist in the market that isn’t being offered yet? And you have the USP for your brand.
3. Write A Business Plan – A Roadmap to Turn Your Ideas into Reality
Planning is a must before starting a business. If you are thinking of getting rich by a business overnight then prepare to be heartbroken. Even before you keep the base of your online business, you have to prepare a business plan.
Business plans are mostly made with the intention to fetch fundings from the investors but even if you do not need fundings you should make a business plan that will help you with all your future business decisions and assessing your future steps.
The well-built business plan includes market research, back-end operation details, suppliers list, target audience categories, long-term and short-term goals from your online business, owning an e-commerce store, and a lot more. Jotting down everything in a plan is a must for every entrepreneur who is launching a business with the aim of sustainability and growth.
Explore: How to make a perfect business plan?
4. Develop Your Products – The Perfect Catalog
You might have waves of ideas regarding starting your online boutique in 2021. But you need to keep all of them at bay and know how you are going to source the products – will it be in-house production (which is quite expensive) or you will drop ship the raw materials to modify them and catalog them in your store. Moreover, the process you decide will affect your pricing, expenses, and profits.
Common approaches to sourcing the products…
-> Dropshipping – In this method the third party makes the products on your behalf and ships them directly to the end consumers.
If dropshipping business intrigues you then know everything about the dropshipping business model to create a roadmap to success.
-> Self-manufacturing – Everything from designing to production and selling is all under your command and supervision. An overseas company will develop the product and ship it to your home or warehouse for stock keeping.
-> Reselling – The business model involves you buying products of other brands from wholesalers and simply reselling to the end-consumers at retail rates. It is a commission model.
-> Handcraft – Buying the unfinished goods from the suppliers and revamping those pieces to display them on your site.
If you are relying on the wholesalers or the manufacturers with product sourcing make sure to abide by certain ground rules:
1. Go to search engines like Google to find manufacturing directories for genuine local manufacturers.
2. Shortlist the ones you think are eligible and send them emails or call them to set up an appointment.
3. As soon as the meetings are fixed make sure you have the professional prototypes or the mockups of the apparel that you will be cataloging.
4. Communicate your vision from your startup and avoid giving rough sketches or partial ideas.
5. Brand Name and Logo – Give Your Business an Identity
Owning an online boutique is a cost-effective deal in 2021 and therefore one can leverage the utility to pull a brand out of your passion. Start building a brand by picking an impressive brand name, a logo, and an additional brand slogan. Start your journey with Vervelogic, as it helps you through the complete process of brand name suggestion, logo designing, and apt slogan recommendations.
Outsourcing your branding tasks to a professional firm fetches you more value for your investment than freelancers or DIY. The entire process of branding and logo designing is based on expert’s suggestions and supervision to keep a strong and appealing identity of your online business. As the brand name and logo is what attracts people in the very first place (it in fact becomes a status symbol) you need to have one that truly justifies your business.
6. Pricing – Expense and Profit management
Some lenient business people are not much concerned about the pricing of their products online and are later concerned with less profit or decreasing sales. This is the reason we have a separate segment on pricing your products. While pricing, one must take care of several factors including the taxations, cash flow, profit margins, and people’s perspectives while shopping.
Your target audience might judge the quality of your products if they are too cheap and might retain from buying if they think the products are overpriced. There are instances when businessmen try to sneak profits by selling a compromised quality at normal rates, well this is a red alert for customer retention.
7. Build an E-commerce store – To Facilitate Online Purchases
This is where the action begins. A dedicated e-commerce store helps you fetch sales and facilitate your clients to do online shopping and make payments. Also, an e-commerce store helps you come out as a professional in your niche, establish an authority, influence the viewers and perform SEO easily.
Building your own online e-commerce website seems to be a daunting task at first but this keeps a stronger base for you than listing your products on other online marketplaces. While you do not have to invest much in getting registered on the third-party marketplace, because of other competitors listed on the same site, the probability of visitors purchasing from your brand becomes less to none.
While developing a store isn’t enough you have to increase its visibility and promote your products online. There is a dedicated section for the same.
8. Product Shipping – Figure Out the Shipping
Now that you have done the market research to know the demand, you have a beautiful online boutique to give your clients an online shopping experience. The only thing left in terms of consumer experience in shipment. You are giving a fingertip hopping experience to your valuable clients so you must know how you will deliver the order. Shipment is not to be underestimated as it has your credibility as a professional online store. Everything can be ruined in seconds if the shipment experience is bad.
Shipping is indeed the key part of the consumer service so you must know how long it will take for the product to reach the clients. You need to figure out the shipment based on the market you have chosen to serve. Also, it is highly recommended to integrate a shipment tracking system into your e-commerce store so that neither your clients nor you are bothered by the unnecessary phone calls.
Developing a full-fledged eCommerce site and shipment strategies are the key steps for best consumer support then comes various channels through which customers can get their genuine queries solved.
9. Market Your Boutique Digitally
Why do you need to market your online boutique?
-> Brand awareness
-> Trust building
-> Enhancing your site visibility on SERPs like Google
-> Influencing customer’s decisions by carefully curating content.
-> Communicating various deals to potential viewers.
Every businessperson wants to be well-known in the area they are dealing in, but your reputation is a unique interaction of your personality, skills, and experience that no one else can replace. You have to create a reputation in order to create a brand.
How to market your online boutique?
There are various ways to do so…
1. Instagram Marketing – One out of all the social media channels, Instagram has become the hot spot for budding businesses to showcase their boutique catalogs and fetch interested customers. Apart from making a public profile to showcase your catalogs, there are various influencers (having a good number of followers) who are happy to promote your products to increase your brand’s popularity and sales.
2. Search Engine Optimization – SEO enhances your visibility on SERPs like Google and Yelp. with certain relevant keywords, your website will be visible to the people who are actually willing to buy similar products and are just searching for great options. You do not have to create the demand but give them the deals they want.
3. Facebook Ads – Show relevant people relevant deals. Facebook Ads lets you promote your products in front of the Facebook users who fit your profile. The searches are often filtered by likes, shares, and comments.
4. Influencer Marketing – This is one of the best ways and highly used methods to popularize your brand in the local market. Collaborate with online influencers like YouTubers, Instagrammers, or bloggers to promote your products through their videos to just the right audience.
5. Relevant Email Marketing – Email is the more personalized way to promote your products online. Email is the best marketing channel where you control the content and also the audience that has access to your content. With your potential client’s email addresses in hand, you can create an email list to send the messages to interested audiences increasing the chances of purchase. Companies even use email marketing to communicate directly, building loyalty and trust.
6. PR – Public Relations help you increase the conversations about your brand and let people know via about your brand and its work. PR is the most traditional and the trusted way of establishing goodwill in the market. \
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As far as the idea of owning an online boutique is intriguing you might have to face some neck-to-neck competition but that doesn’t mean you cannot sustain yourself in the market. With proper planning and a dedicated niche, you can step firmly into the market even outreach your competition. Niche alone does not decide the fate of an online boutique business and therefore the article contains the complete roadmap on how to start an online boutique in minimal investment.
If it is an online business you must have an e-commerce store to sell the products and give your customers a perfect online shopping experience.