With increasing exposure to technology, people’s shopping preferences have also altered. The customer segment which preferred to shop for clothing offline is now turning to online shopping. The same has been observed with the boutique industry, where the target audience loves to visit the online boutique store apps or websites rather than the offline store.
One can have a rough idea of the popularity of online boutiques with the fact that the average income of online boutique store owners is more than $6000 per month. Moreover, talking about the overall E-commerce landscape, the US e-commerce retail sales exceeded 5.7 trillion in 2022. At the same time, the sales figure is expected to climb the further stairs in upcoming years.
Having an online boutique store app can bring a good income. However, it is not child’s play, as it requires proper planning and execution. Today in this blog, we will talk about each and every step that you need to take to establish your own online boutique business.
Things to Consider While Starting an Online Boutique Business
When planning to start an online boutique business or store, there are certain factors that must be kept in the center. The major decisions of startups are based on the severity and nature of these factors. If entertained well, these factors help ensure you get your return on investment at the earliest. The factors are-
Before entering the business, analyze the present competition efficiently. Take your time to identify the existing market leaders, market shares of different competitors, the services and products they are offerings, the quality of their products, pricing strategies of their products, advertising strategies they utilize, and much more. It will help you better decide the quality, pricing, and marketing strategies for your business.
When opting for an online boutique business, you save a lot of cost on infrastructure. Still, you need to be concerned about your budget. Developing a boutique store app or website is going to require a good investment as long as you are planning to have all the necessary features integrated. At the same time, you will also have to keep the principle aside for inventory, packaging, and delivery network. So, you must design your budget well to streamline the process.
3. Legal Requirements
Be it an online or offline business, you need certain certifications and permits to run the business in any market. For example, you must have a seller’s permit to sell clothing items in the US. Similarly, if you purchase a large quantity of clothing from a wholesaler to sell on the store, it requires a resale certificate. So, ensure you comply with the legal requirements of boutique business before entering the landscape.
4. Brand Identity
You can only expect a good response when people know and recognize your brand. While establishing an online boutique business, design a creative and appealing logo that can attract a good customer base. Market the brand identity well so the target audience can remember your brand and differentiate the products from competitors.
Market Leaders in The Online Boutique Store Segment
The concept of online business in the boutique industry is not new. Many names lead the segment by delivering the products according to their people’s preferences. Let’s learn about some famous names that have brought the online boutique industry into the limelight.
Jane is a well-known online boutique marketplace comprising more than 2,000 shops plus big brands and designer names. On its official website, Jane offers a range of products, including tops, graphic apparel, dresses, home decor, bottoms, sandals, lightweight sweaters, apparel for kids & babies, bags & crossbodies, jewelry, lounge & sleep, kitchen accessories, and even toys/fun items.
Another online boutique marketplace where you can find more than 49,000 different apparel, footwear, beauty styles, and accessories. The platform offers products mainly focused on millennial and Gen Z consumers. Revolve’s core operational process focuses on sustainability, diversity & inclusion, efficient supply chain, and community.
3. Pink Lily
Incepted in the year 2014 by a couple, Pink Lily has achieved tremendous fame in a brief time period. Within a year of establishment, the company moved to its second warehouse, and after 22 years, it even launched a flagship store in Kentucky. In 2019, Pink Lily shipped their one-millionth order. The firm’s product portfolio includes beauty products, swimwear, clothing, dresses, printed tees and shirts, jewelry, shoes, and all other accessories.
4. Shop The Mint
The Mint was founded on 2 July 2012 and now works with a creative team of diverse and devoted individuals passionate about their work. On its official website, the target audience can shop for absolutely anything in the apparel segment. At the same time, the brand has also stretched its product portfolio to include shoes, accessories, and swimming outfits.
5. Beginning Boutique USA
Beginning boutique tried its fortune at a time when only some were familiar with online shopping and E-commerce concept. The firm was incepted in 2008 from the room of a small house which began to attract the target audience and moved to a real office in 2012. Beginning Boutique won “Telstra Small Business of the Year AND Telstra Queensland Business of the Year” in 2015. This boutique has various products, including tops, bottoms, swimwear, brands, festival outfits, prom dresses, outerwear, shoes, accessories, and much more.
Key Steps to Start an Online Boutique Business
When you are new in the industry or have no exposure to starting an online business, it might be a difficult and time-consuming task to take the right steps. Skipping any important phase of inception can cost you a lot to your business. So, we have listed some basic steps that will guide you to start an online boutique business efficiently-
1. Define Your Niche & Targeted Market
First, you should know who you are targeting. In a boutique business, your niche might be covering a broader demography as well as a specific gender, age, or group. The major decisions are going to be based on the target audience you are planning to serve. So, figure out your target audience and take the next step.
2. Find the Best E-commerce Platform
Your online store is going to be the identity of your business. So, you should choose the best e-commerce platform to build your store. Here, one gets plenty of options with names like Shopify, Shopware, WooCommerce, Adobe commerce, Wix, BigCommerce, and more. Each of these platforms has its core competencies. Pick the right one according to the needs of your business.
3. Create a business plan
Once you finish the above fundamental tasks, it is time to draw the business blueprint. Decide the name of your business or brand, map your budgeting, contact your delivery partners, locate your warehouse, decide the theme of your online store, and much more. At the same time, identify the key performance indicators that help you ensure you are moving in the right direction.
4. Develop your brand
Establish an identity that dedicatedly represents your business and its products. Register your business with all the legal formalities and requirements. Patent the name of the business. Design the logo, and visuals, and develop a brand identity for your online boutique.
5. Source Your Product
Inventory management is the backbone of any business. In setting up the online presence of your business, you should not forget to ensure bigger tasks like sourcing the product. Find the partners who are going to supply the inventory when you receive the online orders. Make sure you have access to the product as soon as you receive an order from your customers.
6. Setup Payment and Shipping Options
Integrate a reliable payment gateway to your online store where customers can make online payments. Also, ensure to provide multiple payment methods to customers so that the cart doesn’t get abandoned on the billing counter. Moving ahead, find a disciplined delivery partner for your business who can deliver the order within the least time frame.
7. Launch Your Online Boutique
When you have finalized the delivery partner, sourced the inventory, established the supply chain, developed the website or application, and performed all the other essential tasks, it is time to launch your online boutique. Publish the website and deploy the app to make it accessible to your target audience.
8. Start Branding and Marketing
Launching the store is not where it all gets done. You will have to attract customers to your store and products and bring them to your platform. For the same, conduct the marketing campaign on different platforms. Utilize digital marketing tactics on social media and search engines. Take the support of content marketing. Do search engine optimization. All these efforts are going to bring results to your business.
9. Revise, Reinvent, and Renew
Keep upgrading the business, both in terms of product as well as your online marketplace. Remove the bugs, introduce the updates, add new features, renew the themes, use data to enhance better customer experience, and much more. It will help you keep the customer engaged and interested in your offerings.
Benefits of Starting an Online Boutique Business
When it comes to starting a business, the biggest confusion lies between online and offline choices. Both modes have their competencies. Still, technological advancements are helping online businesses gain sharper spike as compared to offline ones. The benefits that online business choices are-
1. Low Startup Costs
Brick-and-mortar stores demand a huge financial investment to set up. Be it building the place, designing the interior, and getting the necessary furniture, everything eats up a huge monetary amount. On the other hand, an online store requires no such facilities and saves a significant cost portion for the business owner. The expenses like setup costs, rent, or maintenance are entirely eliminated.
2. Flexible Work Schedule
The online boutique business will bring time and place flexibility for you. One can work anywhere, anytime, according to their own convenience. You need not be present in a specific place to entertain the customer. At the same time, your store is open even when you are not working.
3. Access to a Global Market
While only nearby and local audiences will choose your offline boutique for shopping, an online boutique gives exposure to the global market. You can take customer orders in any market, irrespective of geological boundaries. Thus, you have the opportunity to serve a really huge target audience as compared to offline businesses.
Online stores are easily scalable as the expansion doesn’t require any bigger warehouses and infrastructure. When you plan to add further products to your portfolio, you can list products on your website or application, and significant work has already been done. Further, you can launch your online marketplace in multiple countries in no time.
5. Data-Driven Decision-Making
One of the biggest benefits of online business is that each decision you make is based on certain data. When steps are taken on the strong ground, chances of favorable outcomes increase gradually. Data-driven decision-making helps the business to provide products and services according to particular needs and requirements.
It is very easy to provide a personalized shopping experience to customers in online business. You can talk to customers via different means. There are multiple mediums to gain the feedback of people and provide the products accordingly. A portal can be easily designed to collect the images of dresses that customer wants to buy. Having the opportunity to provide a personalized experience helps to secure a loyal customer base.
By eliminating the need for brick-and-mortar storefronts, online businesses save power and water consumption. So, it is not only financially sustainable but environmentally sustainable. as well.
Must-have Features for an Online Boutique Store
There are billions of smartphone users, the majority of which are familiar with the concept of e-commerce. So, competition in the online landscape has also increased to a significant extent. In this competitive scenario, the features of your online marketplace are going to help you stand out from other companies and be visible to the target audience. Make sure your online boutique mobile app or website has at least the following features-
|Mobile responsiveness||Mobile responsiveness is the key to a smoother user experience. Make sure your app or website has quick mobile responsiveness to the user’s commands.|
|Custom Catalogs||The platform must carry a custom catalog to display a variety of products to the target audience. Remember, the first impression is the last impression.|
|Gadgets-friendly||People visit boutique websites from different mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops. So, your app or website should be multiple-gadgets friendly.|
|Advanced product search||Your boutique application or website should carry a search box that navigates the customer directly to their concerned page in no time.|
|User-Generated Reviews||Customers should have the option to give and read reviews on particular products. It will help the audience know more about the product and make better decisions.|
|Product Recommendations||Customers should be getting recommendations for relevant products they have searched for previously on the marketplace. It will increase the sales of boutique inventory as well as customers will have a better shopping experience.|
|Multi-Language and Multi-Currency Support||The application must support multiple languages for costumers of different countries. At the same time, when you are aiming to serve customers from multiple markets, it becomes important that your online presence operates in the majority of currencies.|
|Social Media Integration||Social media integration helps in sharing products with our social network. The tactic brings good traffic to the platform in the least time.|
|High-Quality Content||Having high-resolution images, descriptions, reviews, videos, and other relevant content of products is a must for a boutique business. Information about the product is the key driver of sales in the online business landscape.|
|Wish List||Wishlist allows customers to save products they want to buy now or later. Having a wishlist feature will allow them to select the product even if they don’t want to make the purchase right now. So, the customer return rate increases.|
|Easy-to-Use Checkout||When users have done with selecting the products, they should not face any difficulty in checking out. Ensure a smooth and easy-to-use checkout in the app or website.|
|Multiple Payment Options||Your online business must be open to multiple payment options. Each customer might prefer a different payment method, and it should be available for them.|
|Multi-Level Security||Get an SSL certificate, perform SQL checks regularly, use a firewall, and do everything to make customers and their data feel secure.|
|FAQ Page||Design an FAQ portal where customers can find answers to their general queries. A customer might not prefer to chat with a bot or contact customer care for a small query.|
Required Skill Set to Bring Success to Online Boutique Business
Just like an offline business requires a strong mindset, experience, and knowledge of the local market, an online business requires particular skills to succeed in the respective segment. If you don’t own these skills, you will have to hire a team that brings these skills to the table. These skills are but are not limited to-
1. E-commerce Platform Knowledge
Undoubtedly, one must have basic e-commerce platform knowledge before stepping into the online business industry. You should know what you are selling, your customers, how you will reach them, what market strategies you must utilize, how to ship the products, and much more.
2. Web/App Design and Development
Online boutique websites or applications play the role of a physical storefront in the online landscape. For establishing an online boutique business, an app or website is the foremost need. So, you need a team that can develop an application or website according to the need and requirements of your particular business.
3. Digital Marketing
It is important that your store is visible to the target audience when they search for a relevant product. For the same, your store must secure a decent position on the search engine result page. The digital marketing team is going to be key to the popularity of your store in the digital market. Be it writing the content, publishing the blogs, managing the traffic, showing the advertisement, or ranking the platform; the team is going to do it all.
4. Business Finances
Either you must have mastery in handling the overall finances, or you should have someone who can do it for you. Business is all about finances and the supply chain. You have to keep a record of overall finances, including incoming inventory, outgoing inventory, shipping cost, packaging cost, and much more.
5. Analytics and Reporting
As we said in the earlier section, online business is all about using the data efficiently to serve the customers well. You or your team must have the skills to analyze the data and report the results. Knowing consumer behavior and their requirements can be one of the best things you can use to uplift your business.
6. Adaptability and Creativity
Being a business owner in the digital landscape, it is your responsibility as well as the duty to adapt the new changes and inject creativity into the operations. Be it providing new trending clothes or designing the equipping the online store with the latest technology, both are vital for your online business.
A Perfect Team Structure to Develop Online Boutique Store
Hiring a perfect team to build your online boutique business is one of the significant and ROI-determining decisions. Ensure you hire a proficient development team for the task. To make the task easier for you, we have listed the parts of a perfect development team-
|Project Manager||Project manager undertakes the overall development process and establish coordination between different team. Moreover, this person ensures that the project is delivered at a defined time within the defined budget.|
|UX/UI designer||Designer is responsible for designing an attractive and easy-to-access user interface. Moreover, the designer helps ensure a smoother user experience by making the dashboard responsive.|
|Back-End Developer||As the name suggests, the back-end developer is responsible for developing the server-side functionalities of the store. It includes managing the database, integrating APIs, handling the server logic, and more.|
|Content Manager||Content manager is the one who will handle overall content like product descriptions, blog posts, and headlines of your online store.|
|SEO Specialist||SEO specialist is going to make sure that your store remains at the top of the search results when customer search for any relevant product.|
|Marketing Specialist||Person or team working in this profile will help you explore a broader target audience by conducting the marketing campaigns like social media marketing, email marketing, and affiliated marketing.|
|Customer support specialist||Last but not least, a customer support specialist is a must in the team. The person is going to address the queries of customers, entertain their feedback and establish a bond between the business and customers.|
Cost to Develop Online Boutique Store
Like other products and services, one can not stitch a price tag on boutique store apps or website development. The reason is that this cost depends on a range of factors and changes according to the circumstances. For instance, you can get a basic store with fundamental capabilities developed for as low as $5000. Similarly, a top-notch marketplace with advanced features might require an investment of more than $20,000.
To make the theory understandable, let’s go through some factors that determine the cost of online boutique store development–
|Features||Features are the foremost determinant for the cost of app or website development. Complex features add a bulk of dollars to the cost, while basic features can be integrated without any high additional cost. For example, equipping the support of social feed algorithms, IoT device synchronization, and augmented reality|
|Supported platforms||While opting for a mobile app, the choice of platform is going to hinder the cost to a great extent. Developing an app for both iOS and Android is going to cost much higher than developing the cost for one dedicated platform. Similarly, choosing an e-commerce platform like Shopify, Shopware, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, etc. will also change your development cost.|
|Design||Design of the online marketplace is made more attractive with the help of more features and integrations. A good design takes more time and is directly proportional to the development cost.|
|Number of features||Not only the type of features but the number of features also hinders the cost of software development. More are the features, higher will the cost.|
|Location of development||It can be one of the biggest factors, dragging major differences in your cost of software development. For example, hiring a development team from countries like the US, UK, Australia, and Europe can cost you twice than hiring a team from Asian countries like India.|
|Deployment Cost||The infrastructure costs like web hosting, domain registration fee, and other hidden charges adds dollars to the cost of web development. Similarly, the fee of deploying the app on the play store or app store also influences the development cost.|
|Post-deployment- Maintenance and Updates||The post-deployment support you seek from your development team also increases the budget required for your project. It will also cost more if you want to keep the team engaged in removing bugs, adding new features, and introducing updates.|
Cost Breakdown to Develop Boutique Store
While going through the above section, you might have wondered where all this cost goes in the project. After all, what are the phases and tasks that exhaust all these dollars? So, we will now talk about phases and parts of the project that contribute to the overall cost of the project.
|Design and Development||Design and development consumes the major portion of the cost of any project. It consists of all the coding work, website or app designing, backend & frontend development, and all the other technical work. Design and development claim a cost from $5,000-$20,000.|
|Domain and Hosting||Online boutique store can only be accessible to the audience by purchasing a domain name and web hosting. A domain cost ranges from $10-$50 per year. Similarly, web hosting costs around $5-$50 monthly. The cost depends on the hosting provider and domain name you choose.|
|Content Creation||Creating content like product descriptions, blog posts, and other marketing material also eats at least one slice from cost. Depending on the quantity of content needed, it usually ranges around $50-$100 per hour for a professional content writer.|
|Marketing||When you want to attract a good customer base to your boutique store, a marketing team is necessary. However, the cost of marketing resources entirely depends upon your requirements and preferences.|
|Maintenance and Support||As interpreted in the earlier section, maintenance and support add dollars to the overall project cost. If you are sure about considering maintenance and support from the same development team, the cost will be added to your project.|
Let’s have a glance over rough cost estimation for different project phases
|Design and Development||$5,000-$20,000|
|Domain and Hosting||$60-$600 per year|
|Content creation||$50-$100 per hour|
|Marketing||$500-$5,000+ per month|
|Maintenance and Support||$100-$1,000 per month|
Why choose Emizentech for Online Boutique Store Development
Development team you partner with, plays a significant role in determining the success of your project. Emizentech, carrying an experience of over a decade, claims to be one of the best E-commerce development company you can pick in the market. Our development team stands with you even before starting the project and even after the deployment of the project. Today we have 250+ members in our team carrying expertise in their respective fields and technology. So, Emizentech offers you all technological solutions under one roof.
The agile methodology applied by our experts helps us carry out the best of each project phase and deliver the digital product with the utmost quality without compromising budget and timeline. Our experience has allowed us to explore the areas where we save costs for our clients by suggesting them beneficial alternatives.
Just like every other business, boutique stores are also moving to the online landscape. The online boutique store app allows the business owner to serve a broader target audience as no physical boundaries hinder the operational process. At the same time, it eliminates the cost of physical infrastructure that can be invested in more productive phases. However, to establish a successful online boutique business, an online marketplace is the foremost need. A boutique business app or website shows up as the primary and best choice for the same. So, Emizentech invites you to contact our team and get a cutting-edge application or website with exceptional capabilities for your boutique business idea.