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How to Start an Online Boutique in 2022 [A Guide with 12 Simple Steps]


Coming up with the perfect formula for starting and running an online boutique will always be the topic of discussion in a world where everything and everyone is basically ‘existing’ in the online segment. In essence, people are ordering almost every piece of clothing or accessories through online platforms and stores.

The reasons are numerous, but the most common ones include, practicality, avoiding unnecessary contact, reliable return policies which allow for a smooth return process if a problem occurs, and laid-back payment methods that also guarantee a safe purchase.

Overall, it’s a trend that gradually becomes sort of a standard.

Seen from the perspective of the owners, it’s much easier to start your own online business because there are no costs for a location lease or expenses aimed at keeping your physical store up and running. In fact, anyone who’s interested enough to start an online boutique can certainly do so, and there are no special technical capabilities you need to own. All you need is an internet connection, a personal computer, and your will to operate in this industry.

That’s why we’ve come up with a step-by-step guide with the ultimate goal to assist you through this whole process and provide you with the technical background for a safe start. But first, let’s delve deeper and see what an online boutique actually is and whether it suits your envisioned activities.

What is an online boutique?

An online boutique is a virtual selling point where the owner offers various fashionable items like clothing and accessories which can be purchased through the internet. The online shop might offer different types of clothing in order to target a certain audience or the selection of products might be broader and offer something for every audience. Whichever you choose, it’s nice to have in mind that online stores can sell items at a higher price which at the end accumulates a vast amount of revenue. A big plus is the growth potential these companies enjoy and the fast market adaptation.

To illustrate how big the eCommerce fashion market we consulted a recent report from Statista. The report confirms that Fashion is the biggest eCommerce market segment set to increase by 9.1% annually and by the end of 2025 will reach a size of US$1.164,7 billion.

With this in mind, it might be the perfect time for starting that online fashion venture you’ve always dreamt of, securing your place on the market, and creating your eCommerce success story.

What to know before starting your online boutique

In order to get to some point of the launch, the most important thing you need to remember is that you’ll always have to plan ahead. In fact, developing a business plan is the safest way of keeping up with the current market trends. A strategy will help you steadily grow and anticipate many market variables that might cause damage in the long run.

Few things before you start:

  • Beginnings can be hard

Every start brings its own amount of complexity, so it’ll be a lie if we say that starting your online boutique from home would be a “piece of cake.” However, with the right amount of dedication and an unequivocal focus on the things that are crucial for one business to thrive, you’ll definitely bring more value and rise to the top.

  • Pop-up challenges

Brace yourself as once you’re up and running you’ll be constantly faced with ad-hoc challenges that’ll naturally arise from every corner. What’s important is that you’ll need to keep a clear mind and an attitude that’ll always seek the solution to a certain issue. Find what motivates you and use it to keep going forward to your ultimate goal, because only this way you’ll manage to sustain the progress.

  • Learn more about legal technicalities

Yes. Legal stuff might be a struggle for everyone out there with an online business, but it’s essential to be aware of regulations that you need to follow in order to keep your business on the market. Depending on the location where you’re based, check if you need to pay certain taxes, register your brand name as a trademark, etc.

What is needed to open an online boutique?

In order to catch the attention of your desired audience, the first thing you need to achieve is to offer a unique set of products that’ll attract and retain customers. This is definitely not an easy process, but if you’re following the steps we provide in this article it’ll surely set you on the path to a successful venture. Therefore, to come in front of all your competitors, you need to follow the following steps.

Step 1: Select your business model

So, now that you’ve already made your market research and you’re aware of your potential target audience, it’s time to see which business model will best suit your needs. This is a step that’ll identify how your products will be placed on the market and will determine your future costs based on the choice you made.

In the fashion and clothing segment, there are two common models of doing online business:

  • Dropshipping

Launching a dropshipping clothing business gives you a lot of freedom and reduction of costs because it allows you to sell products that you don’t physically own. In other words, you’ll partner up with a dropshipping vendor that will process, and ship the orders that your customers make in your online store. The dropshipping business model is a perfect choice for everyone that’s starting their journey on the market and wants to gain traction and build a steady base for further development. The costs here are minimal which gives you more space and opportunity to work more on your customer service and support system and provide the ultimate experience to your potential clients. This way you’ll generate positive feedback and your business will grow much faster. You can further read about such an experience in this dropshipping case study.

  • Online Boutique that buys products in bulk

A business model which allows you to have full control over the inventory by buying in bulk. Of course, similar to dropshipping, here also you’ll need a reliable wholesale supplier that’ll provide you with the desired inventory. The main difference here is that you’ll have to constantly upgrade and keep track of your inventory and have a storage space dedicated to these products.

Step 2: Choose your fashion products

This is what will represent your business in front of the targeted audiences. Selecting a specific niche within the clothing segment is one of the key elements that need to be determined when starting with your online boutique because it’ll basically show your audience where are you headed with your store and what you’re passionate about. This is a crucial step as in the end it’s not profitable to sell everything.

First, do thorough research about the winning products you can sell. Second, create your ideal customer and then take it from there. It’s always better if you’d narrow down your audience and offer selected products that’ll target this audience.

For example, starting an online boutique that’ll cover all sorts of high-end fashion items from world-renowned brands is a very lucrative idea that’ll bring many fashionistas to your store. Any additional offers will only act as a “cherry on the top.” Starting an online boutique that’ll sell high-end fashion items will definitely get you an advantage in this segment as your products will be a unique addition to the online market. Offering high-end brands like Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Armani, and other big names is a sure recipe for placing your store in a higher position than your competition that sells regular clothing items. Consumers want to buy garments that guarantee the quality, and what’s the ultimate sign of quality in the clothing world? Branding. Whether you decide to proceed with your business in the form of an online boutique that will buy products in bulk or you’ll choose to open a dropshipping store, BrandsGateway can help you set up your boutique and provide you with high-fashion quality products that will guarantee overall market success.

Step 3: Offer what the market is missing

While niche selection plays an important part in your online boutique success, another key component you must not oversee is assessing the market and looking for gaps that need to be filled. It’s a fact that there will always be something that the market lacks and isn’t covered by your competitors, and this is the thing that once identified will bring you closer to your goals.

However, in fashion, finding this might be a bit confusing as the market’s main inventory is clothing and accessories. But you can always look deeper in terms of what kind of clothing and brands are the least offered and assess whether they’ll be a solid ground for taking them as your main offering. The important thing to remember here is that in the fashion market you’ll always have a buyer’s audience no matter what you choose to sell, as people love experimenting and buying new stuff online.

Selling designer clothing will always put you one step ahead of online boutiques that sell unbranded clothing.

How can BrandsGateway help you to offer what the market is missing?

BrandsGateway is a wholesale and dropshipping supplier that can supply your store exactly with what the market is missing. Luxury designer clothing is indeed a category that will differentiate your online boutique and set you straight on the path of guaranteed profit. Whether you are buying in bulk or you are a dropshipping business, BrandsGateway will provide you with the best product inventory. You can find more than 100 high-end fashion brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Roberto Cavalli, Karl Lagerfeld, Versace, Cerutti 1881, Michael Kors, Diesel, Dsquared2, Miu Miu, Prada, Frankie Morello, Rich John Richmond, Chloe, Trussardi, Tom Ford, Jimmy Choo, etc. You can choose from the various product categories that BrandsGateways offers in the luxury segment and choose from:

Of course, in order to tailor down your online boutique, you can always go with a more narrowed-down selection and specialize your shop in one of these categories, if your goal is to target a particular audience. Whichever approach you choose, BrandsGateways will help you achieve your desired goals.

Step 4: Create and execute your business plan

Your business plan is an essential part of your venture. The plan will serve you as a guide through the market penetration and in it, you can set your main goals and the ways you’ll achieve them.

Of course, the business plan will also serve as a secure basis for applying for additional grants and financial assets or present your idea in front of investors that are eager to help you emerge more easily on the market.

Step 5: Size up your competition

The next thing you need to do for your online boutique is to trace your competitors and assess their operation in order to determine how to position your fashion business on the market. With a simple SWOT analysis, you’ll be able to determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and get a thorough image of how the market trends are moving and will help you along your journey.

If you’re new to the market, depending on your needs and the investment you have at your hand you can choose one of the above-mentioned business models and then elevate your needs from there. On one hand, the dropshipping model can give you financial stability. On the other hand, an online store that you’ll supply by buying clothing in bulk can ensure better management of your inventory.

Step 6: Carefully select your logo and branding

The first thing that your customers are going to see from you and your business is the logo and the entire branding.

In business terms, the first impression is always important so you should really think about stepping up the game in this segment and coming up with an eye-catching design and a name that’ll sound easy to remember.

For example, FashionNova is a dropshipping business that operates in the fashion market segment. You can see that their name contains the word Fashion in it. Without arguing whether this approach is 100% correct or not, it’s fair to say that when you first read the name FashionNova you immediately know what the store has to offer. Therefore, it’s a smart starting point that can be adequately used in future improvements. With that said, your luxury fashion store could benefit from a name that will contain the words Luxury or Fashion, or any abbreviation from the given words. You can try, FashionLux, LuxFash, FLux, etc. While this is a rather obvious approach, another angle is to go with a pretty unique name that may or may not contain any of these words but will be somehow connected to the luxurious inventory of clothing and accessories that you’re selling. One example of this is the dropshipping clothing store named Taylor Stitch which sells men’s clothing that is eco-friendly and recycled or made from regenerative fibers.

Whatever approach you choose it’s important to pick something that will truly mean something to you or will perfectly describe your business. You can also incorporate catchy slogans that’ll define the essence of what your business has to offer.

Additionally, hiring a graphic designer for the logo is always a good idea. People are visual beings and anything that’ll catch their attention will make them come back with full attention to your business and the products you offer.

Step 7: Choose your business domain name

Another thing that needs to be taken care of is the store domain name. As we argued in the previous chapter, the more original or descriptive your name is, the more consumers will actually get interested in seeing what are the services that your business provides.

But there’s one thing here that we must not omit pointing out. The very first thing that you need to do after you come up with a name is to check whether this name is available as a domain. Trust us on this. There’s nothing more annoying than having to go by another domain name just because you came up with something that already exists in the domain directory.

In order to avoid this, you should go hand in hand with the other processes and check if your chosen name is available for use as a domain name. Therefore, if you decide to go by LuxFash, and if you check whether this name is available on www.domain.com you’ll notice that the LuxFash.com is already taken. The website will provide you with certain alternatives such as .org, .tech, .online, etc. There’s no big difference in which domain extension you’ll choose, but bear in mind that the most commonly used are .com, .net, and .org.

Once you select your domain name, you should also see if that particular name appears on social media handles or elsewhere. You don’t want to end up with an already existing Facebook profile that will make you further problems in your work when the customers will have a hard time finding you on social media because of this.

Step 8: Decide on the price range of your products

The price range of the products you’ll sell is closely related to the target audience. That is why you need to address these two things at the same time or you’ll end up in a situation where you’ll have to adjust one or the other. Of course, this might not be a big deal after all, but having control over both of these variables and tailoring them the way you think, will bring the most benefits for the company is a much better approach.

The best way of setting a retail price is by preparing a price strategy that’ll cover a few phases, and then executing this strategy by gradually introducing one phase at a time. This will give you some time to slowly adjust to the market conditions without having to lose the momentum of your venture.

In the high fashion world, when you are selling designer clothes or other accessories, the price margin stands between 1.9 and 2.4. The formula you can use to see how much profit you’ll have at the end is the following:

Wholesale Price * Markup – Wholesale price = Profit

So, let’s take this Women’s D&G Dress as an example for our equation. The BrandsGateway price or the wholesale price stands at €825. Usually, in branded dropshipping markups are around 2.2. That being said, if you have this product in your dropshipping store, you’ll be able to earn up to €990.

Step 9: Set up your website

Now that you’ve set in place most of the things of a technical nature, it’s time for setting up your website. Your website will be the platform through which your online boutique will run.

Did you know that well-built websites have much higher success rates than those that perform much more poorly? Or, did you know that 94% of the impressions are related to the people’s first glance at your web design?

That’s the main reason why you should take your time and come up with a design that’ll surely spark some curious gazes. You can bring in a designer that’ll easily do this for you, or you can always check for websites that allow for easy creation of your website.

Due to the fact that the nature of your business will be eCommerce you can use Shopify in order to create your dedicated shopping store and integrate your inventory very easily. A WordPress-based store with the WooCommerce plugin is another popular choice you have in terms of website building, allowing access to thousands of the best WooCommerce plugins. Both eCommerce platforms can work well with dropshipping stores and online boutiques – you just need to decide whether you want to take care of your inventory yourself or have your supplier deal with it through the dropshipping model.

Regardless of whether you choose Shopify or WooCommerce, you’ll need to work on personalizing as much as you can in order to show your business soul and the thing you’re trying to achieve. Nowadays, it’s very easy to come up with a great design especially when it comes to an online boutique that sells luxury fashion items. People are always drawn to these types of websites as moths to a flame so be wise to make something out of this.

However, even if you’re not experienced in this segment, there are web development companies that offer turnkey store solutions especially if you want your store to be based on Shopify.    Such companies can help you ease off the whole experience, and ensure that there will be no mistakes along this journey.

Step 10: Promotions and special offers

In order to complete your store cycle, a store needs a rulebook that’ll incorporate all the policies for shipping, promotions, and returns.

Of course, in terms of promotion and discounts in the high-end fashion segment, online boutiques should always keep an eye on their supplier’s offers and adapt their product inventory prices with the ongoing promotions dictated by their dropshipping or wholesale supplier. It is very important that you follow their guidelines and form your offer in accordance with their current standings.

Step 11: Define the shipping technicalities

The shipping process should also be addressed. You really need to have a reliable shipping service that’ll guarantee that your products will reach the end consumers.

Having customers abandon their carts at checkout due to surreal shipping rates or the products not reaching them is something that’ll deter people from your business. Therefore, in case you choose to run an online boutique and have a wholesale supplier, you’ll need to find a reliable shipping operator that’ll get things done in a very fast manner.

In contrast, if you decide to run dropshipping clothing store there is no need to worry about this part as your dropshipping supplier will be in charge of sending the products to your end customers. All in all, with this model you should only care about providing the most desirable customer support and lift your business high up on the market.

Step 12: Promote your online boutique

So once your business is up and running you should start exploring your ways of promotion and prepare a marketing strategy that’ll be the best choice for your online store. But, first things first:

  • Create your social media channels and start filling them with information about your online boutique and the products you’re selling;
  • Optimize your product photos and use fashion image editing apps to present your items in the best light possible;
  • Connect your store to Google Search Console and Google Analytics in order to track information about the traffic on your website;
  • Create newsletter for your store;
  • Perform test campaigns in order to see what works best for your store;

After you’ve done all of this, it’s time to get your business out in the world by heavy promotion. But what does this mean? Basically, you need to use all of the promotion platforms in order to get the most coverage you can.

  • SEO Marketing Strategy

With a little help from some of the SEO tactics, you can get this powerful platform to target the audiences that’ll likely interact with your fashion store. Set up keywords, measure the buyer’s intent, and get relevant traffic that eventually will lead to conversions. This can also be achieved organically with a strong SEO strategy. After this, you can fortify your strategy with some paid ads on the Google Ads platform, such as Google Shopping Ads.

  • Facebook Marketing

You can use Facebook to post your clothing offers and attract audiences from the social media space. The targeting campaigns can be precisely tailored in order to attract customers that are more likely to buy high-end fashion items and are ready to spend their money on this kind of stuff. For example, try running a campaign that will feature your best-branded handbags. Of course, the best suited for these types of advertisements is the female audience.

  • YouTube Marketing

YouTube is another way of getting more traffic to your online boutique. YouTube has a base of 2 billion active users which gives you a sea of endless possibilities in terms of targeting. With the help of YouTube Ads, you can achieve wonders. An early Christmas campaign, a Halloween discount on certain products, and a summer clearance are just some of the ways you can market your high-fashion online store.

  • Instagram Marketing

More and more online boutiques are using Instagram in order to place their products and attract the attention of their intended audiences. Instagram is an app that deeply relies on the visual experience of the user so it’s perfect for marketing products from the Fashion segment, allowing you to promote your business in many ways, including business Instagram captions. Additionally, you can find numerous influencers that’ll gladly accept to promote your business for a certain fee. That way you can have access to their huge armies of followers that’ll open your store to potential customers.

  • Pinterest Marketing

You can also use Pinterest as a way of promotion for your online boutique. Setting up a strategy will be the perfect starting point. Set up some boards, and choose a more specific target audience, and you are all set.

Committing to these channels will bring you a lot of traffic to your store and will definitely lead to purchases. The important thing here is to craft the perfect strategy that’ll cover each of these channels, execute this strategy and then reap the fruits from the whole operation.

To sum up

As you can see from this extensive guide, launching your online boutique in 2022 won’t be much of a struggle after all. In fact, by following the steps we have presented here, you’ll definitely be ready to emerge on the market with a full-proof business model that’ll surely give you a solid base for future ventures and transformations. You won’t need a place, or big sums of money in order to start your business journey. A simple computer in your home can be the ultimate source of a successful venture.

From there, you can start the learning process which will then open the door for more in-depth assessments and later on, improvements in the long run. The most important thing you need to do is to stop your daydreaming spree of imagining how you’ll build your online boutique from scratch, and actually start building it.

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About the Author

Dimitar Alimaskoski

Content writer and music fanatic. Always using song lyrics as inspiration for my words.

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