If you have a great eye for fashion, the possibility of opening your own boutique has probably crossed your mind. But it can be difficult to know where to start or what to expect, especially when there’s so much competition for sales.
When it comes to choosing the right looks and apparel for your audience, you know best. But learning what it takes to have a booming online business can be a whole other set of skills you have to learn. You have to know how to market to your customers and set up an online shop that’s easy to use and navigate through.
If you can recognize the best upcoming looks from spring to summer to fall, but you don’t know where to start when it comes to selling these looks to others, we’re here to help.
1. Decide on a Business Name
No pressure, but your business name often makes or breaks an online retailer’s success. If you have the best sense of style, but that’s not conveyed through a catchy, clear name, then you may never get online shoppers to your store.
When it comes to naming your company, think about the future. Consider what brand name will carry you through years of success, but still sound fresh. Don’t be afraid to brainstorm 50 names or more–it will take time.
Ask friends, family, and strangers for their feedback. If you specialize in vintage style or swimsuits, find your audience and ask them which online store they rather shop at. Pop into a vintage shop and let yourself get inspired, take in the scene, think about what you love most about vintage clothes, then jot down what comes to mind.
Make sure your business name is easy to pronounce and easy to spell. If you want customers to recommend you to others, they need to be able to understand how to say your business name. In studies, having a business name that’s easy to pronounce leads to better chances of success.
2. Figure Out Your Stock and Logistics
This step can be one of the most tedious and risky when it comes to knowing what to buy and how much to purchase. Ultimately, as with every business, there will be some risk and waste.
When it comes to stock, you want to buy quality products that will not disappoint your customers. Start with a pilot program to test how many products you can sell. Start small and offer discounts to your first customers. Once you get a feel for your process and traffic, then you can order more products to reduce your cost.
You can also use a similar store that lists their stock numbers as a model. If you notice a sweater that’s similar to what you offer go from 7 in-stock to 2 in-stock the next day, you can assume they probably sold 5. While this method is not the most reliable, checking multiple online shops will help you get a better estimate.
Of course, you need to figure out where to store your stock. You can do this in your home or in a storage unit when you’re first starting. Make sure you keep all stock organized and clearly labeled. You also want to keep shipping and packaging ready to go, too.
Take notes on your process to eventually form a business plan.
3. Register Your Business Name and Find a Platform
There are several great platforms that will help you register and streamline your business to start selling. Shopify is one that online sellers love. It’s easy for customers to use and has layouts that are perfect for most businesses.
All you have to do is register your domain name and get started on your online shop design. Remember to keep it simple and straightforward. Don’t clutter your homepage with too much text.
Include a blog page with shareable content your audience will want to read. Content marketing is a great way to build your web presence and keep loyal customers interested in your business.
Spend time on and thoroughly think through your About page. This is essential to building a brand rather than just a shop. Today’s customers care about who they’re buying from. And without a physical space, online shoppers often go to the About page to get a better feel for a company. Stay true to yourself and be honest with your shoppers.
4. Followthrough with Quick and Communicative Service
Always have a way for customers to contact you. They may have questions about sizing or your return policy. Being able to respond quickly can be the difference between making a sale or sending them and their wallets elsewhere.
Once an order is placed, make sure you fulfill it as quickly as possible while updating your customer of the progress. With Amazon-mentality, most online shoppers want prompt service, but they’re more willing to wait if they know how long they’ll be waiting and if the product is high-quality.
Follow-up with customers and ask for feedback after they order. Customer reviews are more trusted than product descriptions and you can improve your process based on what a customer actually experiences.
5. Keep Customers Coming Back with Promotions
Customers come back because they like the products they buy, but they will come back more often if you have an additional incentive. Offer free shipping on a next order or a loyalty program.
Don’t flood your customer’s inboxes with spam, but send out helpful content from time to time or seasonal deals. And remember to always thank your customer for their time and business.
Don’t be afraid to take the plunge into starting the next amazing online boutique. You have the eye for fashion and your taste will help your business grow season after season. With the right mindset, you can see a profit and make customers happy by offering the best products and services.