How to Start an Online Boutique
At the turn of the century, we began seeing a steady growth of online businesses as opposed to the traditional brick and mortar establishments. The fashion industry isn't exempt from this booming trend. Fashionistas grab your pen and notepad and jot down some pointers so you can take action after reading this blog. With the rise of brands like Fashion Nova and Chic Couture, shopping your favorite looks has never been easier. If you ever thought about creating your personalized online boutique, we want to get you slayed and paid with these initial startup steps.
- Pick a Unique But Simple Name
First things first. Your boutique needs to stand out and represent the concept of your brand well. Consider whether you will be selling children's clothes, men's clothes, women's clothing, or a combination of the three. Pick a name that grows with the life of your business; think about what it will look like on shipping packages, your website, and across social media platforms. While you may be tempted to get super creative with name choices, it’s important to caution yourself about the length or complexity of your business name.
Will clients be intrigued to learn more without visiting your site? What kinds of feelings will your business name evoke? One social psychology study found that companies with the least complicated names traded up to 33% better than companies with complicated names in the stock market. Make sure the name you select hasn't already been chosen by someone else, and you can use it to create an available domain name.
- Register Your Business
Visit your state's business registration website and apply for an EIN. It will help the IRS identify how you will be taxed and whether your company will be recognized as a limited liability company (LLC), a sole proprietorship, or another legal entity. Applying for an EIN legitimizes your business and allows you to hire and pay employees in accordance with state law. Once you receive an EIN number this allows you to route state taxes on the employee’s behalf.
- Apply For a Sellers Permit
Depending on the state you reside in, a resale permit or a sellers permit may be required to allow you to purchase inventory tax-free and at wholesale prices. This is how you will make your mulah while also paying your state for operating business. A seller's permit allows you to purchase wholesale and then sell retail. It may also be necessary for exclusive access to trade shows which we’ll discuss later on.
- File Your Business Name
There are a few fees associated with getting your business off the ground, this step requires a small withdrawal from the money you’ve been saving to get your business up and running. Filing your business name is a very important next move. The name you select is officially yours for use once you have filed it with the state. Most states will not recognize your business as an official entity if it is not registered.
- Open Your Business Bank Account
Once the money starts flowing it’s important to have a separate account to keep things nice and organized. A separate bank account alleviates issues that could arise from mixing your personal funds with money generated by your business. Moreover, a business account gives you a clear picture of money going out for company expenditures, and how much you are truly profiting after all the business bills are paid. A separate account also gives you the peace of mind you’ll grow to appreciate come tax time.
- It’s Time to Purchase Inventory
Before you set out into the world of building inventory, one of the most important first steps is to consider your target customer; consider the prints, patterns, and styles that they will find most attractive. If you don’t have a clear picture of your target customer your inventory purchasing experience will quickly shift from exciting to daunting. Knowing your ideal customer allows you to focus your budget and quickly sift through a sea of vendors looking to earn your business.
Once you’ve identified your target customer, it’s time to maximize their spending potential by creating collections. Releasing a collection sets the tone for repeat customers who won’t just purchase a piece here or there. You want your pieces to blend cohesively from accessories to footwear and back to the stapled items. Your online boutique should be a one-stop-shop where your customers can achieve several different looks from the pieces purchased.
Lastly, you want to ensure you are connected to vendors who provide the right variety of sizes by purchasing inventory cases by the pack. Until you get a better idea of the sizes in greatest demand, start with a few pieces of clothing in each size. Remember your inventory is your investment and you definitely don’t want to invest your start-up funds frivolously.
As mentioned earlier, trade shows are one of the most popular ways to browse and purchase from multiple vendors all in one location. Your sellers permit usually provides free or discounted access to these shows, unlike access to the general public. Keep in mind If you can’t immediately hop on a plane or take the drive to a trade show, consider shopping with vendors like Alibaba or AliExpress. You can google other vendors with the click of your mouse, however, you’ll miss out on the quality of fabrics with first time virtual orders.
- Launch Your Website and Purchase a Domain Name
We all know paying someone to customize a business website can be quite the price tag, therefore host sites like Wordpress, Wix, and Shopify are great self-help sites to get your online boutique up and running. With these platforms, you’ll be able to customize your store and choose from a variety of branding looks. Also, check out Godaddy.com to purchase a domain name for as low as $4.99.
Time to Tell Your Family and Friends
Now that you’re armed with seven of the most important steps to launching your online boutique, it’s time to create fun flyers with Canva and alert your family and friends. We wish you much success and a year full of exciting new fashion.