How to Start an Online Boutique

Decide Your Product Niche

While some creative entrepreneurs already know what they want to sell, you might have no idea. But that’s the fun part — figuring out where to buy clothes to start a boutique.

So what do we mean by niche? When you’re starting an online boutique, including fashion boutiques, you shouldn’t try to appeal to everyone. You want to target a small, specialized section of the population, whether it’s children’s clothes, hand-beaded necklaces or men’s hats.

Also, think about your ideal customer. Keep them in mind so that you can ensure the products you offer will keep them interested.

For example, if you decide to sell men’s athletic shorts and shirts, it wouldn’t make sense to then expand to selling women’s swimsuits. However, it would make sense to offer accessories such as socks, jackets and shoes.

Another important thing to keep in mind is customer lifetime value. It’s much more difficult to get a new customer than it is to sell to an existing customer. 

To maximize your profits and grow your online boutique, you’ll ideally want to offer products that keep your customers coming back to load new products into their shopping cart.

Create a Business Plan

Up next is creating your own business plan. This will be your guide that lays out your goals and the steps you’re going to take to achieve them. You can then show your business plan to investors and banks when you’re ready to get additional financial assistance.

Here are some of the main elements you should in the business plan of your online boutique:

You probably did some market research when you were deciding on your product and niche, but now it’s time to dive even deeper into your target audience.

 Business Model.

Once you have a good understanding of your ideal customer and the overall market, it’s time to decide on a business model. The model you choose will also help inform which type of business licenses you’ll need.

When it comes to clothing and accessories, most online retailers and wholesalers fall into one of these categories:

  • Print On Demand — For this business model, you’re simply adding some type of logo or design to a clothing item when a customer places an order. And you can either do this yourself or use a third-party printer.
  • Custom Cut and Sew — This is the most labor-intensive and costly of the models because you’re making everything yourself or paying someone else to make it for you.
  • Private Label — Private label, also sometimes called white label, means you’re partnering with a manufacturing company who makes the product. Then, you can addd your branding.
  • Dropshipping — Dropshipping requires the smallest investment, but faces the toughest competition. It is an order fulfillment method that allows your business to partner with a wholesale supplier to display and sell their products in your online store. 

Financial Plan

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

If you’re not sure how to calculate these numbers, this is an excellent opportunity to reach out to your network and see if anyone can help you plan your finances.