Maybe you’ve dreamed about starting your own boutique since you were little, or maybe this is an unexpected passion project the rest of your career has led you to. But either way, you’re finally starting your online boutique – and we couldn’t be more thrilled for you!
But in order to found a successful, profitable online boutique, there are a lot of moving parts to consider. Especially if you’re starting your boutique during COVID-19 (we wrote an entire post on that here!)
Honestly? Our best advice is just to START. Get out there, spread word of mouth, make some mistakes, and trust that you’ll figure everything out along the way. Of course, you will – you’re you!
But implementing these tips from the beginning will make that learning curve a little less steep – and make it easier for you to get moving.
Here are our top five tips for starting an online boutique:
Dream big, start small
Hey, we’re all for having HUGE dreams around here. But your boutique doesn’t have to be the massive success of your dreams from day one. To be honest, it probably won’t be! Don’t spend a ton of $$$ upfront, and don’t make things more complicated than they need to be. Use a site like Shopify or Squarespace to easily set up your online store, or start even smaller and sell through Instagram or Etsy.
Trust us, there’s plenty of time for your online store to grow – but if you start too big right at the beginning, it’ll put too much pressure on you to perform & recoup your investment right away. Play the long game!
Develop your boutique’s unique brand and image
Your brand is what differentiates yourself from the competition – and when you’re in the boutique business, there’s a lot of competition. Your brand goes beyond the sort of wholesale boutique items you sell. It’s how your business looks, feels, and sounds to others.
So take some time to develop your brand strategy. Come up with your brand’s values, mission, and promises. Figure out the story you’re telling and the voice you’ll use to tell it. Then, start creating (or hire someone to create) the visuals you’ll use to tell that story, from your logo to your color scheme to the type of photos you’ll post. Your brand will help you connect with your target customer more quickly and stand out from all of the other online boutiques out there.
Get to know your target customer
We’re sure you have impeccable taste… but when you’re starting your own online boutique, it isn’t enough to just buy the things you like the most. After all, you’re not the one who’s going to be buying them!
Spend some time figuring out who your ideal customer is. Get to know who she is on a personal level. Figure out how old she is, other brands she likes, who she follows on social media, the kind of clothes she usually spends the most on, how much she typically spends on a t-shirt, etc. Then, shop for inventory as she would. The clearer your picture of your ideal customer, the more successful your online boutique will be.
Find great products
Time to go shopping. Spend time searching for the kind of products you know your target customer will love. Of course, choosing items themselves are only half the battle – you’ll also want to make sure you can get them from a reliable supplier with fair prices and a track record of great customer service. Shopping wholesale doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get the best price – do some pricing research about how much other suppliers charge and the retail prices other boutiques typically charge for similar items.
Supplied is a great place to find wholesale boutique items your target customer will love. With over 100,000 unique items, free shipping, no minimum orders, and fabulous customer service, Supplied is a great resource for starting your online boutique.
Don’t forget about marketing
Marketing is just too important for it to be an afterthought. Sure, you could create a gorgeous, thoughtful brand and fill your professional-looking website with amazing wholesale boutique items your dream customer would totally buy one of everything of – but if she never sees it, you’re toast.
Develop a marketing plan and strategy built around how you’re going to attract your ideal customer. “Marketing” may sound a bit intimidating, but anything that helps your business get in front of the right eyes counts, from posting on social media to telling your closest friends to spread the word. (Of course, if you’re totally overwhelmed by all things marketing, you can always hire an expert to handle this, too!) Check out our top 6 marketing tips for new boutique owners here.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed about how to get your online boutique off the ground, start with Supplied. It’s a great place to start purchasing your first round of inventory, with up to 75% off of wholesale prices, free shipping and returns, and no minimum orders (so you can start as small as you’d like!). We’re here to support you as you start this exciting journey! Become a Supplied member for free and you could place your first order today.