Starting an online retail store
The world of retail and online shopping opens up the doors to a myriad of stores.
To succeed as a Small Business Manager, you need to know how to differentiate yourself from the crowd. Before you open an online boutique, make sure you have the following points checked off your to-do list.
Construct a business plan
If you want to be successful, you can’t open an online boutique without a great deal of thought and planning. Begin by constructing a business plan, which outlines your vision and mission, as well as the strategies and specific actions you are going to implement into your business.
Identify your target market
Choosing your target market will determine the type of product you will sell, the marketing techniques to target that particular demographic and even the design of your website. Whether its clothing, gifts, homewares or craft, your online boutique needs to be able to cater to what the target market wants. Try to expand further than what simply interests you, and consider what products may be of interest to others. If you’re just starting out, ready-made products are the easiest option to purchase.
Source your product
After you decide what you’re going to sell (and who you’re going to sell it to), you need to determine the source of your product. This generally falls under one of three categories:
- Sell your own: Handcrafted products or your own manufactured product line
- Wholesale: Products sourced from suppliers, purchased in bulk and resold in your online store
- Resale: Reselling second hand or used products
Research your product source to ensure its dependability and affordability for what you want.
Choose a boutique name
Now comes the time for creativity – naming your business can be a complicated process, and should aptly reflect the look and feel of your product. While some experts believe the best business names are abstract, allowing the owner to create a unique image of their own, others believe names should be informative, so consumers are immediately aware of what kind of business you run.
Start by considering what elements of your business you want to portray to your customers, and brainstorm around the kind of feelings you want your customers to associate with your product.
Sort out your software
From payment processing options through to e-commerce software, you need to ensure your online boutique has a strong foundation upon which to be built. While many boutique owners opt for a marketplace solution like eBay or etsy, where your product is marketed alongside a bunch of other similar products, others opt for a hosted solution like WordPress, where you can build and design your site to your desired specifications.
Packaging and shipping
Nice packaging and prompt delivery times are vital for your online boutique to maintain a good reputation and attracting repeat customers, so ensure your customer service doesn’t stop at the checkout.
Additionally, during the shipping process, ensure you’re maintaining regular contact with your customer, and be sure to follow up after a product has been received to ensure your customer is happy with the purchasing experience.
Choosing the best way to market your online boutique will be determined by your budget, your target demographic, and the products you’re selling. Along with utilising social media profiles like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, consider how you want to segment your advertising budget – for example, pay-per-click advertising, emails, print or paid social media ads.
If you want to be prepared to open an online boutique, consider undertaking a qualification in Retail in which you will learn the best methods of operating a successful retail or wholesale business.