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With the convenience and security of online business services, it is no wonder that people are more inclined to roll their smartphones instead of driving into a store.

In addition, e-commerce makes it easier for you to start your business and make money without having to pay the extra cost of a physical store. Of course, this does not mean that you do not need to spend a lot of work to start a business.

The good news is that we have assembled all the information needed to start and run an online boutique, from how to choose a product segment to a wealth of marketing skills from experts.
how-to-start-online-boutique-checklist

How to Start an Online Boutique: Checklist & Step-by-Step Guide


    Online Boutique Definition

    Before we begin, let's review the definition of an online boutique. Basically, this is a small shop that usually sells fashionable clothing or accessories via the Internet. For example, an online boutique might sell highly specialized products at higher prices than traditional physical department stores.

    One of the most attractive aspects of online stores is the growth potential. Statista's data shows that by 2021, the sales of e-commerce apparel in the United States are expected to grow to 100 billion U.S. dollars.

    how-to-start-online-boutique-checklist

    In addition, in 2019, online fashion sales accounted for almost 30% of total US retail e-commerce sales.

    More and more shoppers are buying clothes, shoes, and accessories online-especially when many brick-and-mortar retailers are temporarily closed. This is especially true.

    how-to-start-online-boutique-checklist


    The skills and qualities required to open an online boutique

    1. Enthusiasm and motivation.

    Do you like to spend the weekend searching for unique discoveries in antique shops? Are you obsessed with matching shoes with clothing? If so, your passion for fashion will help you succeed.

    Running a small business is not easy. When you are deeply involved in tax paperwork, you need enthusiasm and motivation to keep moving forward. Therefore, before making any time or money commitments, make sure you are passionate about your work and have the motivation to succeed.

    2. Network

    The network is one of your most valuable assets. Because even if you are a professional jewelry designer, you may not know how to set up an LLC or design a professional logo. Through the power of the Internet, you can find people who really know how to do these things and ask for their expertise.

    3. Digital marketing

    As a business owner, you need to wear a lot of hats. Although you don't have to be an expert in all aspects, having some digital marketing background will be very helpful.

    The good news is that learning digital marketing online is easier than ever. You can use some great resources to familiarize yourself with search engine optimization (SEO), paid advertising, social media, email marketing, and more.

    4. Commercial finance

    Similar to digital marketing, it can be helpful to understand startup costs before opening an online store. The good news is that you can also conduct research online and take courses to better understand how to manage finances. 

    Some things you need to pay attention to include:
    • Know your credit score.
    • Different types of corporate loans.
    • How to manage the budget.
    Also, keep in mind that many people make mistakes in the process it doesn't matter. You just want to do everything you can at the beginning to prepare for success.

    5. Time management

    The best part of being your own boss is that no one tells you what to do. However, this means that you are responsible for completing all the work. Passion and motivation can only take you far. If you can’t manage your time, you will soon be exhausted.

    Prioritize your time and work hard to develop this skill. In addition, please take advantage of the many books, applications, and tools designed for managing time.

    6. Confidence

    To have a successful online boutique, you need confidence. I believe you can do this, and don't let negative thoughts get in the way.


    10 Steps on How to Start an Online Boutique

    1. Determine your product niche.
    2. Find the best e-commerce platform for your online boutique.
    3. Create a business plan.
    4. Choose the name and domain name of your online boutique.
    5. Find and review your clothing supplier.
    6. Use the online store builder to create your website.
    7. Add products and instructions to your online boutique.
    8. Start your online boutique.
    9. Start large-scale marketing.
    10. Revise, reinvent and update.
    Although some creative entrepreneurs already know what they want to sell, you may not know. But this is part of the fun- figuring out your product and market segment.

    So, what does niche mean? When you open an online boutique, you should not try to attract everyone. You want to target a small number of specialized groups. 

    Here is an example of your business:

    1. Clothes

    • Vintage clothes.
    • Children's clothing.
    • Plus size women's clothing.
    • Men's sportswear.

    2. Jewelry

    • Handmade beaded necklace.
    • Rings of metal products.
    • Stained glass earrings.

    3. Accessories

    • Women's wallets.
    • Men's hats.
    • Children's shoes.
    • Handmade scarf.
    Also, think about your ideal customer. Remember them so that you can be sure that the products offered will interest them. For example, if you decide to sell men’s sports shorts and shirts, it doesn’t make sense to expand to sell women’s swimwear. However, it makes sense to provide accessories such as socks, jackets, and shoes.

    how-to-start-online-boutique-checklist

    Another important thing to remember is the customer’s lifetime value. Acquiring new customers is much more difficult than selling to existing customers. In order to maximize your profits and grow an online boutique, ideally, you want to provide products that will allow customers to come back and load new products into their shopping carts.


    Find the best e-commerce platform for your online boutique

    Now that you have a product available for sale, it is time to build your store. For online businesses, this means your e-commerce platform. There are also some great options, even if you have no experience, you can build an e-commerce website very easily.

    You want a good partner who is not only suitable for you today, but also provides you with extended solutions. Changing the platform is not impossible, but it requires a lot of work and you need to invest a lot of money to build your own online business. Therefore, ensuring that you have the right platform partner is the first thing, and I encourage people to take the time to understand and finally make a decision.

    1. Shopify.

    Who is it for?

    Among the different e-commerce platforms, Shopify may be the most famous. Shopify focuses on ease of use and is a great choice for small business owners who want to open an online store quickly.
     

    Salient features

    • ThemeForest majors and respond rapidly theme to design your site.
    • Shopify Payments (if you use it) allows you to avoid the additional transaction fees that you need to pay when using other payment gateways.
    • More than 4,100 integrated applications to help you add other features to the online store.

    Plans and pricing

    Shopify also offers many very affordable pricing models. In addition, they offer Shopify Lite options for merchants who only want to sell on their existing blog sites. 

    If you want to add other features to the plan, you need to upgrade your Shopify account. Before deciding to use an e-commerce platform, make sure to evaluate the features that are most important to your business, lest you accidentally upgrade. 


    2. WooCommerce.

    Who is it for?

    WooCommerce is an open-source e-commerce plugin for WordPress. Therefore, if you already have a WordPress website or blog and want to open an online boutique quickly, then this is a good choice for you. In addition, developers and experienced webmasters will enjoy the level of control gained through WooCommerce.

    Salient features

    • Since WooCommerce is open source, you have full control over customizing and managing your store.
    • You can use several core payment options for free, or you can choose from more than 100 advanced payment gateways.
    • You can install hundreds of extensions to get help with transportation, accounting, marketing, and more.
    • You can take advantage of the huge WooCommerce meetup group community to help manage your store.


    3. BigCommerce.

    Who is it for?

    BigCommerce is for everyone. If you are an entrepreneur, everything about yourself becomes easy, and the ease of use makes it easy to get started. On the other hand, if you have an existing business that you want to do online, BigCommerce has the integration needed to achieve a seamless transition.

    Salient features

    • The powerful SEO function allows you to fully control the URL, title tags, title tags, and metadata.
    • Integration with Instagram allows your customers to make purchases without leaving the app.
    • Page Builder tool, it provides drag and drops function, so you can quickly change the site 
    • Out-of-the-box products include abandoned shopping cart recycling, coupons and discounts, and one-page payments.
    • 24/7 real-time agent support, as well as a dedicated help center and an active merchant community.
    • When you need to expand the catalog, each product can handle up to 600 SKUs and provide 250 options.
    • Using one of more than 55 supported payment gateways will not charge you any other transaction fees.
    • A huge network of partners to help with everything from shipping and fulfillment to marketing and advertising.

    4. Plans and pricing

    With BigCommerce, you can choose from their plans. In addition, there is an additional option for large enterprises that require enterprise solutions.

    As you can see, the plan you are based on depends on your online sales. However, no matter which plan you use, you have access to a large number of features, which saves you from having to choose the right plan from the start.


    Develop a Business Plan

    Now, it's time to create your own business plan. This will be your guide, listing your goals and the steps to take to achieve them. Then, when you are ready to receive other financial assistance, you can show your business plan to investors and banks. Here are some of the main elements you should include in your online boutique's business plan.

    1. Market research.

    You may have done some market research when deciding on products and market segments, but now it’s time to get a deeper understanding of your target audience. You can complete this section by completing the following exercises:

    Create buyer persona 

    Really consider the specific customer who wants to buy the product. You can include demographic information, such as their age, geographic location, and income. Then, take further steps and record which social media platform they prefer, who they trust the product information most, and information about their personal style. 

    Conduct market analysis

    You can confirm here:
    • Is there a market for your product?
    • How big is the current market?
    • How fast is the market growing?
    Make sure that when you do research, you can find numerical data to back up your claims.

    Complete keyword research

    When you are trying to attract people to find you, how you talk about your brand and products makes a big difference. You want to conduct keyword research to ensure that the correct terms are used. This will also help your SEO when building an online store.

    Perform SWOT analysis

    This is a good way to determine the competition situation. First, you can identify the main competitors. Then, you create a table to check the advantages, disadvantages, opportunities, and threats. This will help you compete with your competitors in the market.


    2. Business model.

    Once you have a good understanding of your ideal customer and the entire market, it's time to decide on a business model. The model you choose will also help inform you of the type of business license you need. When it comes to clothing and accessories, most online retailers fall into one of four categories:

    Print on demand

    For this business model, you just add a certain type of logo or design to the garment when the customer places an order. You can do this yourself, or you can use a third-party printer.

    Set sanctions

    This is the most labor-intensive and cost-intensive model among the models because you have to make everything yourself or spend money to find someone else to make it for you.

    Private label 

    A private label, sometimes called a white label, means that you are working with the manufacturing company that produces the product. Then you can add the brand.

    Consignment

    Direct selling requires the least investment but faces the fiercest competition. Shippers are essentially intermediaries, they order from third-party companies for direct delivery to customers.


    3. Financial plan.

    This is part of your business plan where you can estimate costs and revenue. 

    Here are some questions you want to answer:
    • How much do you invest, and what do you need from external sources?
    • What expenses do you expect to spend (for example, production, transportation, materials)?
    • How do you plan to price the product?
    • How much do you expect to earn in the first year?
    If you are not sure how to calculate these numbers, then this is a great opportunity to contact your network and see if someone can help you plan your finances.


    4. Marketing strategy.

    Finally, you can develop an advanced marketing strategy. Although every business owner should conduct basic marketing, this is your opportunity to define your startup strategy.

    For example, you may need to focus on influential marketers to build expectations and excitement. You can work with micro-influencers to promote your online boutique on their social media platforms.

    You should also make sure that you have a press release or some kind of plan for major announcements. 

    Since there are multiple ways to market your business, you need to narrow your business from the start and focus on the channels that have the greatest impact on your target customers.


    Choose the name and domain name  & hosting plan of your online boutique

    Now, it's time to give it a name and make your clothing business a reality. Although you don’t have to keep this name forever, rebranding can be very expensive. Therefore, you must use these techniques when considering naming your store. 

    1. Creativity.

    You want to stand out from the crowd, so make sure to choose the original name. Go back and visit your ideal customer. What do they care about? Can you associate it with your brand name? Take advantage of the emotional and idealistic aspects of an e-commerce business to help you think of a unique name. 

    2. Personality.

    In addition to being original, you also want your brand to have a certain personality. Inject yourself and your name. For example, if you sell T-shirts with funny proverbs, please come up with a brand name that will make people laugh! This will provide you with the next reminder that will make your brand memorable.

    3. Unforgettable.

    Once you have come up with some unique and fascinating ideas, the next trick is to make sure that people will remember them. Of course, you don't want to be remembered for the wrong reasons. Therefore, this is another opportunity to contact your network and get feedback about your ideas. In this way, if you have not considered certain issues, such as how your name might be translated into an audience in another country, you can make changes immediately before making any investments. 

    4. Availability.

    Even if you come up with the most perfect and outstanding name for your store, you will not be able to do anything with it without that name. Check trademarks, domain availability, existing social media handles, etc. to make sure you can continue to use your company name.

    Find and review your clothing supplier

    This is where your products come to life. Because even if you make everything yourself, you still need consumables. And you want to ensure that you strike a balance between the quality of your budget. In addition, since you often work with them, you need to make sure that this is a company (or individual) with which you can maintain a good relationship.

    When reviewing suppliers, please pay attention to the following points:


    1. Clothing quality.

    Does the quality of the clothing meet the standards of your store? Ask for samples to better understand the look and feel of the product.

    2. Support level.

    Do you have someone to speak to every week or every month? Make sure to have a dialogue with them so that you can evaluate how they communicate.

    3. Comments on the supplier.

    Does the supplier have a history of success? Check the comments online or contact your network to see if anyone has worked with them before.


    How to create an online boutique website

    Create your website with an online store builder

    Now that you have the product, e-commerce platform, and business name, it is time to create a website for your boutique. However, before you start, make sure you have the logo, brand colors, and product images. This will make your website construction easier.

    1. Choose a theme or template.

    The first thing you need to do is to choose a theme or template for your website. Most e-commerce providers (including BigCommerce/Shopify) have free and paid theme options that you can customize according to your brand. And, if you are really interested in changing the code in the theme, BigCommerce’s website builder allows you to make these changes


    2. Add products and descriptions.

    After setting the basic template, you can add products. In addition, you can apply for keyword research has done business plan to the product description that will make your SEO has lifted.

    Also, remember to consider your product page as an opportunity to let your personality shine. For example, you can provide tips on how potential customers should wear clothes. Can they wrap their necks and hair with a scarf? Let them know!

    3. Generate a checkout strategy.

    You can share the rules of the online clothing store here. Usually, this includes your shipping, returns, size, and promotional policies.

    4. Choose an accepted payment provider.

    You may not realize it, but choosing the right payment service provider can have a significant impact on your boutique business. They can ensure the security of credit card transactions and improve the checkout process to enhance the customer experience.

    5. Determine the transportation.

    Finally, you need to set the shipping method so that your awesome products can reach your customers. Although you may not want to invest a lot of energy in shipping, this is actually one of the most important parts of an e-commerce store. 

    Amazon sets the threshold very high. Customers expect almost everyone to provide a 2-day delivery service, which is actually not feasible for new online businesses. If potential customers think that the transportation cost is too high or their items cannot reach them fast enough, they can abandon their shopping cart. 


    Launch your online boutique

    After setting up your website, you can set up everything you need to start the online store:
    • Use your boutique information to fill in your social media platform.
    • Set up your transaction emails so that you can use them when you receive your first order.
    • Set up your Google Analytics and tracking pixels to get data instantly.
    • Test all functions and links to let you know that everything is working.
    • Click the actual start button and go online!
    Now is the time to put into practice the marketing strategies you outlined in your business plan. In addition, you need to make sure that you have some kind of press release ready that you can send out to cause more buzz about your business.


    Start mass marketing

    After completing the initial promotion of the online boutique, you can participate in daily marketing activities. We have collected some expert advice to help you focus on areas that will have a significant impact.

    1. Social media.  

    Make full use of social media on various platforms to promote organic marketing to maximize profit
    Jessica Lago, iMedia Marketing and Partnership Manager shared how to succeed on social media. 
    1. Not all social channels can be used. Choose the top 3 channels that your target market is actively using, and optimize your strategy for these channels. 
    2. If there is a shopping function on social channels, please use it. A shopping feature is an easy-to-setup tool and a seamless way to convert followers who are already interested in your brand into your website. "

    2. Content marketing.

    Jordan Brannon, president of Coalition Technologies, emphasized the importance of content marketing. 

    People don't consume products online (except perhaps on mobile phones or online games). People consume content. What are the product photos (if not satisfied) on your product detail page? How about the title, price, and comment? content. What about the product description? content. People buy content online and hope that new products will appear.

    3. Email marketing.

    Val Geisler, an email conversion strategist, provides some good suggestions on how to do email marketing.

    "Develop an appropriate e-mail inbound strategy (yes, I mean in addition to confirming orders and shipping notifications), and then start from there. This is one of the reasons I developed the "Dinner Party Strategy". It's like dealing with focus It’s as simple as a few emails to build relationships with new customers. In fact, this is the magic of email marketing."

    Modify, reshape and renew

    Now that you have activated your store, it’s time to delve into the data and analysis to understand the effective and ineffective methods. You can then make changes and improvements, such as:
    • Sell ​​the best-selling products on the homepage.
    • Test new product copies or images on poorly performing pages.
    • Change your shopping cart where people can get off easily.
    • Add product reviews and customer testimonials.
    • Try out holiday discounts and promotions.
    You can also contact customers directly to better understand their specific needs and needs.


    Participation in building online boutiques

    Once your store has been open for a while, you can go beyond the basics to build relationships with customers and other brands. 

    1. Add an "About Us" page.

    Today, everyone can sell T-shirts. What shoppers want is a connection with the brands they support. You can establish these connections on the " About Us" page. Write down what motivates you to start a business and how enthusiasm for it keeps you going. 

    2. Cooperate with other brands.

    Cooperating with other brands is a good way to grow your business. For example, if you sell accessories, you can work with another brand that only sells clothing to provide customers with a full set of clothing from head to toe.

    In addition, you can promote each other's products on websites, social media, and emails, thereby creating a win-win situation for both partners.


    Examples of online boutiques

    If you need some examples of large online clothing stores, check out these BigCommerce customers.

    1. Elka Collective

    The physical boutiques of Elka Collective are designed for high-end simplicity, with layered textures and natural tones to complement its clothing collection. You will see how they seamlessly transform the same aesthetic into an e-commerce store for online shoppers. 

    In addition, the images and descriptions they use will resonate with their ideal customers, who "seek high-quality, stylish and casual clothing to suit her lifestyle". 

    how-to-start-online-boutique-checklist


    2. Pop up the thread

    Pop Threads takes full advantage of the fact that Shopify is perfectly integrated with large catalogs and multiple choices, so they can provide customers with a variety of styles and sizes-from baby tights to men's 6xL, everything.

    how-to-start-online-boutique-checklist

    Conclusion

    As more and more customers turn to online businesses to meet their shopping needs, there is no better time than now to open the boutique you dream about. With the right skill set, reliable business plan, and flexible e-commerce platform, you can immediately build and operate an online boutique.



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