In the US alone, e-commerce sales will reach $1.40 trillion by 2024. With more and more people shopping online every day, creating a digital boutique on the internet is one of the most popular full-time job ideas in the world and in Turkey.
We see that the average income of e-commerce boutique owners is $6,013 per month, which is around 120,000 TL at the daily exchange rate.
Getting started is quite easy thanks to online e-platforms, but it takes time for the whole process to fall into place for a successful digital store. In this guide we will list the necessary steps to start your new business with ease and look for answers to the question of how to start an online boutique.
Decide on Niche
A niche, or more specifically a ‘virgin area’, is a specific type of product or service that you focus on. When opening an online boutique, it’s important to choose a niche that will help you stand out from the crowd.
Do some research and competitor analysis and decide what kind of products you want to sell. Think about your interests, what is popular in the market and what gap you can fill.
One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make when identifying a niche is to chase saturated markets. Your chosen niche needs a loyal and enthusiastic audience, but yours should have the advantage of competing in a dominant category and standing out from the crowd. How will your products be different from the same products sold in other boutiques?
Before choosing a domain, it is best to check that it is available for purchase. You can do this through a site like GoDaddy.
The name you choose for your e-commerce platform should be easy to spell, catchy and short, with a .com extension. You should also check that the domain name you choose is available on all social platforms.
Have a Legal Entity
The creation of your legal entity, i.e. incorporation, determines how you are taxed and what your obligations are as the owner of an online boutique. The most common legal forms for small businesses are sole proprietorships and limited liability companies.
As the name suggests, a sole proprietorship is a business owned by one person. Incorporating a sole trader is a process that can be completed in one day and is the simplest and quickest way to incorporate.
It is recommended to set up a limited company for volume transactions. It will be much easier to get a loan than for a sole trader, but let’s not forget that opening and closing a limited company can take a long time.
Make a Business Plan
Many small business owners and new entrepreneurs skip the steps of creating a business plan & competitor analysis. Although not mandatory, it is a good idea to be able to track your progress, determine the roadmap for your boutique, understand your customers and the competition.
- Your job description,
- The services and products you will offer,
- Market research,
- The market you will target,
- Marketing plan,
- Financial plan,
- The structure and ownership of your business,
- Your legal obligations,
- Operations and management,
Again, many companies can skip the KOSGEB support platforms and leave it for much later. If you are setting up a new business, you should consider this type of government support at every stage of your project.
Finding reliable product suppliers at an affordable price is half of running an online boutique. Find a supplier or wholesaler that has quality products, delivers on time and offers excellent customer service.
Search for terms such as “wholesale” or “product supplier” to find suppliers.
You can also visit trade shows in your industry to meet suppliers and get product ideas.
- Etsy Wholesale
- LA Showroom
Create Online Store
To set up your shop, you need an e-commerce platform. You can use a referenced platform that provides a turnkey solution with the infrastructure you need to get your business up and running.
On the other hand, open source platforms like Shopify can offer much more customisation options.
The platform you choose will determine the features and functionality of your shop, so it is important to choose a platform that offers the features you need to run your business.
At this stage, as we mentioned in the introduction, if you have identified a “niche” area, there is no need to choose a comprehensive e-commerce infrastructure, at least initially.
Market Your Online Boutique
Now that your online store is up and running with your products and services, it’s time to start marketing (promoting) it. There are different ways to market an online store, and the best approach will depend on your budget and target market.
E-commerce platforms can provide a seamless infrastructure and you can list your products with your expertise, but unless you promote them, it is almost impossible to stand out from the crowd.
Common marketing strategies for online shops are
- Search engine optimisation (SEO)
- Paid advertising (Google, Instagram and Facebook Ads)
- Social media marketing,
- Content marketing,
- Email marketing
- Affiliate marketing,
- Influencer marketing,
- Loyalty programmes,
- Trade fairs
- Press promotions,
How Much Does It Cost to Open an Online Boutique Online?
The cost of opening an online boutique depends on the depth of business you choose, your product, the platform you use for your shop and the marketing strategies you implement.
You can expect to spend between $800 and $3,000 per year to get your online store up and running. This price does not include marketing costs, product delivery and staff wages.
How Long Does It Take to Open an Online Boutique?
It usually takes about four to six weeks to get your online shop up and running. However, this may vary depending on the platform you choose and your level of technical expertise. If you drop ship, you can have your site up and running in a very short time, like a weekend.
How Can I Drive Traffic to My Online Boutique, How Can I Promote It?
If you have competitively priced products, it is important to use the right keywords to get high rankings on search results pages, be constantly present on social media, work with social media influencers, create relevant, useful content that can attract customers, and not neglect digital marketing processes.
Can I Manage This Business From Home?
Yes, you can set up an online boutique and run your business from home. Many small businesses start this way. However, be aware that you may need to comply with local laws and regulations, so be sure to check if there are any restrictions in your city or county before you start.
Can I Start Online Boutique Business Without Money?
One way to start an online clothing business without any money is to drop ship. Dropshipping is a popular type of e-commerce where you do not keep any stock or inventory on hand, but instead order and ship products from the supplier as orders come in.
When a customer places an order, you simply contact your supplier to ship the product directly.
Why is Online Boutique Advantageous?
You can have a shop open 24/7 and list thousands of products if you wish. You should remember that this is much more advantageous than a scenario where you pay high rents.
With more and more customers going online to buy clothes, shoes and accessories, there’s no better time than the present to open an online boutique.
E-commerce also makes it easier for you to set up your business and make money without the need for additional expenses such as a physical location, etc. But that doesn’t mean you don’t still have to work hard for your new job.
Digital Marketing Competences
As an entrepreneur, you have to wear many hats. Although you don’t need to be an expert in everything for your clothing business, it’s extremely useful to have some knowledge of digital marketing.
The good news is that learning about online digital marketing is easier than ever. There are some great and free resources you can use to familiarise yourself with topics such as search engine optimisation (SEO), paid advertising, social media marketing, email marketing and more.
Here are a few platforms you should check:
- DigitalMarketer offers everything from tips and tricks on various topics to full certification courses.
- HubSpot Academy has a complete library of online certifications covering everything from content marketing to digital advertising.
- LinkedIn Learning includes easy-to-follow video courses that provide an introduction to digital marketing topics.
The best thing about being your own boss is that no one tells you what to do. However, this means that you are personally responsible at every stage. Passion can only take you so far.
If you don’t manage your time, you’ll burn out quickly. Make time management a priority and try to improve this skill. You can also take advantage of the many books, apps and tools designed specifically to help you manage your time.
10 Steps How to Open an Online Boutique?
- Decide on your product niche.
- Find the best e-commerce platform.
- Create a business plan.
- Select a domain name and server.
- Find and analyse suppliers.
- Analyse your competitors.
- Create your website with the online shop builder.
- Add products and descriptions.
- Start digital marketing.
- Review, analyse and renew.
Find the Best E-Commerce Platform
Now that you have a product to sell, it’s time to set up your shop. For online businesses, this means e-commerce platforms. And there are some great and mostly free options that make it easy to create an e-commerce site, even if you have no experience.
Companies such as BigCommerce, Shopify and WooCommerce offer a variety of e-commerce platform options with functionality and payment features.
The Market Research
You’ve probably done some market research when deciding on your product and niche, but now it’s time to dig even deeper into your target audience.
Think about the customers who might buy your products. You can analyse demographic information such as their age, geographical location and income. Then take it a step further and find out which social media platforms they prefer, who they trust most to help them choose products, and information about their personal style.
Make Market Analysis
You can find out if there is a market for your product, how big the existing market is and how fast the market is growing. Be sure to find numerical data to support your analysis.
Complete Keyword Research
When you are trying to get people to find you, how you talk about your products (how you present them) makes all the difference. It would be a good idea to do some keyword research to make sure you are using the right terminology. This will also help your SEO when building your online store.
Perform a SWOT Analysis
This is a great technique for measuring competition. Firstly, you can identify your main competitors.
You will then create a table of strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This will help you position yourself in the marketplace against your competitors.
Determining Online Boutique Business Model
Once you have information about your ideal customer base and your overall market, it is time to decide on your business model. The model you choose will also help determine the type of business licence you need.
When it comes to clothing and accessories, most online retailers and wholesalers fall into one of the categories listed below:
Print on Demand
This business model has entry-level processes where you add a logo or design to a product when a customer places an order, and you can do this yourself or use a third party service.
Special Cut or Sewing
This is the most labour-intensive and costly of the models, as you are active every step of the way, or you pay someone to do it for you.
This model is a scenario where you partner with a company that makes the product. In summary, you pay money to the manufacturer, they print your brand and you offer it for sale on your platform.
Although dropshipping appears to be one of the more financially advantageous and entry-level e-commerce systems, it brings with it the toughest competition. A distribution method that allows your business to partner with a wholesaler.
Things to Consider in Financial Planning
This step is part of your business plan where you measure your costs and revenues, which we often mention in our articles. Here are some questions you will want to answer:
- How much money will you invest in an external source?
- What production and transport costs do you expect?
- How will you price your products?
- How much revenue do you expect to generate in the first year?
If you are not sure how to calculate these figures, you can work with someone who can help you plan your finances.
Why Should I Prefer E-Commerce?
You can get rid of fixed invoices, unforeseen expenses, losses or staff costs and have an online shop at affordable prices.
While your space is limited in a normal shop, it is possible to add thousands of products to an online platform. With an online shop, your products are not stolen and you do not have to close your shop at 18:00. You can make money 24/7 in your sleep.
What are B2B, B2C, C2C Concepts?
B2B stands for business-to-business sales, B2C for business-to-consumer sales and C2C for consumer-to-consumer sales.
Methods to Increase E-Commerce Sales
- Your e-commerce site should have a mobile application.
- Work with an expert and proven digital marketing specialist.
- Focus on Instagram adverts.
- Harness the power of re-marketing.
- Focus on your social media accounts.
- Optimise your infrastructure with SEO tools.
- Continuously produce quality content.
- Mailing and campaign emails are useful.
- Do not place counterfeit or poor quality products on the market.
- Whatsapp, live support and call centres are important.
- Offer promotions and prices that set you apart from the competition.
- Be flexible with returns and exchanges.
- Free freight will boost your sales.
If you want to open an online boutique or take big steps with e-commerce system, you can get professional support from DMM Turkey.