How to Start an Online Boutique in 2023 [A Guide with 12 Simple Steps]
- What is an online boutique?
- Is owning an online boutique profitable?
- What to know before starting your online boutique?
- How do I start an online boutique from home?
- Starting an online store with BrandsGateway
- To sum up
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:
- avoiding unnecessary contact
- reliable return policies
- laid-back payment methods that 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 in the end accumulates a vast amount of revenue.
Is owning an online boutique profitable?
Owning an online boutique can be transformed into a lucrative venture as these companies usually experience great growth potential due to the fast market adaptation. To illustrate how big the eCommerce fashion market is, we’ve consulted a recent report from Statista, confirming that Fashion is the biggest eCommerce market segment set to increase by 11.5% annually and reach a size of US$1,501.3 billion by the end of 2027.
With this in mind, it might be the perfect time to start that online fashion venture you’ve always dreamt of by 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 some things ahead and be aware of the following:
- Create a structured business plan: Developing a business plan is the safest way to keep up with the current market trends. A strategy will help you grow steadily and anticipate many market variables that might cause damage in the long run.
- 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 a business to thrive, you’ll definitely bring more value and rise to the challenge.
- Expect 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. For example, suppose you are forming LLC in Florida. One thing you need to know is that it has “pass-through” taxation, which is not subject to double taxation like a corporation. You can also register your brand name (called Fictitious Name in Florida) at $50 and is renewed every 5 years for the same price.
Register for free, start selling BrandsGateway's catalog, and skyrocket your sales.
How do I start an online boutique from home?
Starting an online clothing business is definitely not an easy process, but if you’re following the steps we provide in this article, you’ll be surely set on the path to a successful venture. Therefore, to come in front of all your competitors, you need to follow these twelve steps.
Step 1: Choose a product niche
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. As an entrepreneur with a potential business idea, start with researching winning products you can sell and creating your buyer persona as it’s always better to narrow down your audience and offer only selected products.
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.” 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.
Check out: Worst Dropshipping Niches
Step 2: Research the market
While niche selection plays an important part in your online boutique’s success, another key component you must not oversee is assessing the market and looking for gaps that need to be filled. There will always be something that the market lacks and isn’t covered by your competitors. Once this something has been identified, it’ll 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, for example, will always put you one step ahead of online boutiques that sell unbranded clothing.
Step 3: Select your business model
Now that you’ve already done your market research and are 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 determine your future costs based on the choices you make.
In the fashion and clothing segment, there are two common models for doing online business:
Dropshipping represents an eCommerce fulfillment method that allows you to sell things online that you don’t physically own. In other words, you’ll partner up with a dropshipping vendor that’ll process and ship the orders to your customers. This business model is a perfect choice for everyone that’s starting their journey on the market and building a steady base for further development.
The costs of operating a dropshipping clothing store 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. In 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.
Wholesale refers to a fulfillment method that allows you to have full control over the inventory by buying in bulk. Similar to dropshipping, here you’ll also need a reliable wholesale supplier that’ll provide you with the desired inventory. The main difference is that you’ll have to constantly upgrade and keep track of your storage and have a warehouse where you can store your products.
Check out: How to Start Buying Wholesale?
BrandsGateway provides a catalog of thousands of fashion items from luxury brands.
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 presenting your idea in front of investors who are eager to help you emerge more easily on the market.
Check out: How to Create a Business Plan?
Step 5: Keep an eye on your competition
In order to determine how to position your fashion business on the market, you need to trace your competitors and assess their operations. 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.
This is an inevitable step of your journey as it enables you to see what your competition offers and what strategies they implement to differ from their opponents. So, take this analysis as a teaching moment and carefully observe the ways they manage their businesses/
Step 6: Select your logo and branding
The first thing your customers are going to see is the logo and branding of your store. In business terms, the first impression is always important so you should really think about stepping up the game and coming up with an eye-catching design and a name that’ll sound easy to remember.
To illustrate, let’s take as an example FashionNova, a dropshipping business that operates in the fashion market segment. It’s fair to say that when you first read the name of the store, you immediately know what it has to offer. With that said, your luxury fashion store could benefit from a name that’ll 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 somehow will still be 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 truly means something to you or will perfectly describe your business. You can also incorporate catchy slogans that 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 to 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 exploring the services your business provides.
But there’s one thing here that we can’t omit pointing out. The very first thing 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 on www.domain.com, you’ll notice that 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 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’ll cause you further problems in your work and customers have a hard time finding you on social media because of this.
Check out: How to Pick Out Store Domain Name?
Step 8: Set up your website
Now that you’ve set in place most of the things of a technical nature, it’s time to set 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 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 who’ll easily do this for you, or you can always check for platforms that allow for easy web-building such as the following ones:
- Shopify: You can use Shopify in order to create your dedicated shopping store and integrate your inventory very easily. To get the gist of it, consult our full guide on dropshipping on Shopify.
- WooCommerce: A WordPress-based store with the WooCommerce plugin is another popular choice you have, allowing access to thousands of the best WooCommerce plugins. For further information, check out our guide on dropshipping with WordPress.
- Wix: Wix is another quite popular eCommerce platform among entrepreneurs in the process of opening an online store. For more elaborate detail, we’ve also prepared a guide on dropshipping with Wix, informing you about everything you need to know about the platform.
- Shift4Shop: Shift4Shop is one more alternative you can take into consideration, offering online business owners an affordable platform to base their ventures on. You can explore this eCommerce software by reading our beginner’s guide to dropshipping with Shift4Shop.
All of these 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. If you’re in doubt, you can always browse through our articles on:
However, even if you’re not experienced in this segment, there are web development companies that offer turnkey store solutions, such as LemonDev, 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 9: 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
To better explain, 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 10: 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’s 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 11: Include promotions and special offers
In order to complete your store cycle, a store needs a rulebook that’ll incorporate all the policies regarding promotions and other special offers as well. By offering your audience, great deals and discounts once in a while, you motivate customers to make a purchase and encourage them to come back to your store in the future as well.
Of course, 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’s very important that you follow their guidelines and form your offer in accordance with their current standings.
Step 12: Promote your online boutique
Once your business is up and running, there;’s nothing else left but to start exploring your ways of promotion and prepare a marketing strategy that’ll be the best choice for your online store. Here’s a few things to have in the back of your mind when working on your advertising plan:
- Create your social media channels and start filling them with information about your online boutique and the trending 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 a newsletter for your store to keep customers posted about the latest news regarding your products;
- Perform test campaigns, especially for paid ads, 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 with 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 SEO tactics, you can learn how to target the audiences that will 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 who 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.
Read more: How to Use Facebook Ads for Dropshipping?
- YouTube Marketing: YouTube is another way of getting more traffic to your online boutique. With a base of 2 billion active users, the platform 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.
Read more: How to Make Video Ads for Dropshipping?
- Instagram Marketing: 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 and Instagram fashion stories. 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.
Starting an online store with BrandsGateway
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: clothing, shoes, bags, accessories, jewelry, sunglasses and frames, and watches.
- All of their merchandise comes with 100% authenticity assurance, guaranteeing the products’ originality.
- There is no MOQ (minimum order quantity) for dropshipping orders, while their wholesale service requires a minimum of €1000/ $1200 per order which can easily be reached.
- Their dropshipping service comes with automated integration for eCommerce platforms Shopify, WooCommerce, Wix, and Shift4Shop in addition to Rest API integration for custom-made websites.
- Convenient return policy of 7 days for wholesalers and 14 days for dropshippers.
Of course, in order to tailor 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.
Whether you decide to proceed with your business in the form of an online boutique that will buy products in bulk or you 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.
To sum up
As you can see from this extensive guide, launching your online boutique in 2023 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 foolproof 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 start an online boutique from scratch, and actually start building it.
About the Author
Content writer and music fanatic. Always using song lyrics as inspiration for my words.