Starting an online boutique is significantly cheaper than starting a brick-and-mortar retail location. You don’t need to pay rent, buy store fixtures or get liability insurance; depending on the square footage it can cost upwards of $20,000 according to Entrepreneur magazine. 

Despite the super long list of costs that are avoided when starting an online boutique, there can be substantial starting capital necessary when deciding to go this route, especially if you’d rather not DIY every aspect of it.

Below, I’ll list all the costs you should consider when deciding to starting an online boutique.

Want to start an online boutique? Interested in finding out how much it will cost to start an online boutique? Click through to find out how much money you need to start a SUCCESSFUL online boutique.

Costs to consider when starting an online boutique

Filing Your Business Entity

business entity is an organization created by one or more people to carry on business operations. For simplicity’s sake, in the U.S you can choose to operate your business as a Sole Proprietorship, Limited Liability Company or a Corporation. It’s best to discuss the best business entity for you with a business lawyer and an business accountant. 

You can create a business entity at IncFile, it’s cheaper than using LegalZoom. This can cost approximately $250 or more depending on your state fees and the package that you choose.

Click here for help forming your business entity now.

Domain Name

A domain name is the address where internet users can access your website (ex: my domain is Before choosing a domain name, make sure that you’ve reviewed my exercise on how to choose a unique name for your business.

This can cost up to $20 depending on what provider you use & if you purchase privacy protection. I love buying my domains from Namecheap because they include FREE domain privacy protection with each purchase, their .com and .co domains normally run anywhere from $8-$14 for the first year.

Click here to purchase your domain name now.

Ecommerce Platform

An ecommerce platform is a software technology solution that allows you to build a storefront where you can sell products. You can choose from either BigCommerce or Shopify (the other options are a nonstarter for long-term growth). I personally have used Shopify for the past 5 years. Click here to read more about why I love them so much!

Basic Shopify plans start at $39.

Product Photography

When starting an online boutique it’s ideal to have lifestyle shots of people wearing or using the product you are selling. As well as stylized product shots that feature a model and/or that are on a solid background.

For the most part you are able to use product shots from the wholesale vendor that you are buying merchandise from. Just double check with each company that you are allowed to use their images.

The downside with using those images however, is that other boutiques may also be using those images.

Lifestyle shot of model wearing clothes & bag available for sale. Stylized product shot of shoes.
Models wearing clothing placed on solid color backgrounds
Products on a white background.


You can DIY your way to great product photography by just gathering some photogenic friends and using a smartphone + some lens enhancements. Click here to learn more about how to create quality photos with a smartphone. 

You can also choose to hire a student photographer who attends a local college.

Professional product photography (your product on a white background) can cost around $20/per image. Do a google search of ‘retail product photos’ to find a business near you. You ship or drop off your products to the studio, they take photos of the products as specified, then you pick up your products or have them shipped to you.

Hiring a professional photographer for a full photo shoot can cost upwards of $1500 as a day rate.

When doing any photography that will include a model, think about the cost of professional hair/makeup.

Purchasing Merchandise

You will want to set a budget for your initial product purchases. You can start with a purchasing budget of little as $1000. This will allow you to buy enough styles so your site does not to look sparse and enough sizes so you don’t run out of inventory. It’s important to be very clear on who your target customer is; this will help you stock items that s/he is sure to love and buy!

To purchase merchandise for your store you can travel to trade shows or year-round wholesale marketplaces. You can also buy inventory from the comfort of your couch.

Packaging Supplies

When shopping online, the first physical contact customers will have with your boutique is when they are handling the package that has been delivered to them. This is a unique opportunity for your business to make a favorable impression and strengthen your brand identity.

The price for packaging can vary depending on how much personalization you desire. Click here to read this post filled with packaging inspiration for online boutiques.

For simplicity’s sake, you can start off with white or colored poly mailers.

You’ll want to get one or two sizes that can fit most of the items you will sell. Poly mailers are great because it protects the item from rain and it’s very lightweight.

Click here to purchase poly mailers from Amazon.

You’ll also need a postal service shipping scale to weigh your finished package and buy the correct amount of postage.

You never want to overpay (because USPS will not seek you out to return your money) and you never want to overpay because it may stop the package from being delivered to your customer or the postal service may charge the customer extra which is a horrible experience.

Click here to purchase your postal scale from Amazon.

A shipping label printer such as this one from Rollo. A label printer saves you time when packaging your customers items. You don’t have to worry about ink (which can get really expensive), printer paper, using scissors or tape.

You want to spend most of your time doing things that matter to the bottom line of you business so it’s important to have the right tools that will make preparing packages a super quick process. 

Click here to purchase your Rollo label printer from Amazon.

I also recommend a standing fabric steamer to make sure the merchandise is presented as beautifully as possible and not full of wrinkles due to how it may have been stored.

A standing steamer is better than a handheld/portable steamer so you don’t have to keep refilling the water.

Click here to get your steamer from Amazon.

Designing Your Website

Costs vary for  web design.

You can hire a professional web designer to create it for you which can cost upwards of $8,000 for a professionally designed website with theme modifications and upwards of $12,000 for a custom build.

Website themes can run anywhere from $50 to $350 depending on the one that you select.

By the way, my course Online Boutique Success® shows you step-by-step how to create a professional website in just a few days (including everything from creating pages, customizing a theme, creating beautiful graphics, making discounts, adding a blog, setting up shipping, fulfilling orders and more!

Click here to join the course.

Marketing Budget

Large companies make consistent sales because they are consistently getting in front of potential customers! You absolutely MUST have a marketing budget. Click here to read this post about how to drive traffic to your online boutique.

To get started, I would recommend a minimum monthly marketing budget of $300-$500/mo.

If you are running paid ads, you can begin testing ads for as little as $15/day. If you will use influencer marketing you can calculate the cost of the product plus shipping it to the influencer and use your marketing budget to pay for that expense.

Online Boutique Success® also includes an in-depth breakdown on marketing strategies such as paid ads, influencer marketing and more!

In summary, you can start your online boutique with as little as $5,000 (will include buying inventory and having a monthly marketing budget) and lots of elbow grease!

The money that you use to start your online boutique can come from your savings, or you can build business credit.

What’s Next?

The journey doesn’t end here! If you’re hungry for more guidance on steering your online boutique toward success, I’ve got something special for you.

ecommerce exposed. It's so important not to launch your boutique following outdated strategies! In less than 23 minutes, you’ll know EVERYTHING that's NOT WORKING anymore in eCommerce... especially if you're serious about launching and growing a successful online boutique.