If you have an online boutique (or if you’re thinking of starting one) your goal is very simple: sell the clothes you buy.
Because if you don’t actually sell your inventory, you’ll just have a very expensive hobby—not an actual business.
Now just because it’s simple doesn’t make it easy. There are a bunch of factors to consider before you can consistently create income with an online boutique.
In this blog post, we’ll look at all the key steps in the process of selling boutique clothing so that you know what to expect even before you get started.
So how exactly do you sell boutique clothing?
Well, the first step is how you buy inventory.
How to Buy Inventory For Your Online Boutique
The key to selling boutique clothing is buying inventory that shoppers are excited to purchase.
Now most new online boutique owners make the mistake of buying items built around their own personal style. And that’s great for people who may have a large social media following that are already validating their specific style and taste.
Celebrities launch fashion or accessories brands all the time to leverage the attention that they’re already getting.
But taking the same approach could be disastrous for the new online boutique owner who doesn’t already have an engaged audience.
So—just to be one the safe side—we always recommend starting with a clear understanding of who your target customer is.
The goal is to build a profile based on who your ideal buyer is. That means you should consider what brands she already shops with, what styles she’s attracted to, and what she prefers to spend.
This will influence everything from the items you choose, to how you style them when you do a photo shoot and even where you set your prices.
Setting a Budget for Buying Inventory
Once you complete the process of identifying your target customer, then it’s time to set a budget for your total inventory purchase.
It’s easy to get excited and treat buying inventory like a shopping spree.
But when you have a cap on what you can spend, you’ll be more judicious about the products you choose. That means you’ll be more focused on curating a collection rather than trying to have as many options as possible.
When it comes to the quantities you should purchase, we always recommend starting conservatively, with just one case pack per item style.
That way, you won’t have to invest a ton in inventory upfront.
And, by tracking which styles and sizes sell best from your first run, you’ll be able to make smarter decisions for what products to purchase for your next collection. You may find something similar to a best seller that you want to introduce or you may need to go in a completely different direction.
But you’ll only know that after you try to sell boutique clothing.
Finding the Right Wholesale Vendor for Your Clothing Boutique
Now finding the right wholesale vendor— in terms of quality, variety and price— will determine how far your inventory budget goes.
Your focus should be on finding a quality manufacturer that sells their products wholesale rather than a wholesale distributor.
A wholesale distributor is a third party. That means they buy from a manufacturer, add on profit and then sell it to you as a retailer.
You want to work with a manufacturer that sells wholesale products. That way, you’ll be able to bypass that “middleman” and get the same items for a cheaper price.
You could travel to a major trade show, drive to the nearest wholesale market or just simply buy wholesale online.
In any case, you should always look for a vendor that communicates well. If it takes days to hear back when you’re checking on an order, you might want to rethink that relationship.
And it’s always a lot easier when you’re in the same country.
Looking for quality US-based wholesale clothing vendors? Click here to learn more.
Creating Your Website For Your Online Boutique
Once you have your products to sell boutique clothing, you need to get them online. Social media is useful as a tool but just having an Instagram page isn’t enough to support a growing business.
Your website is how you turn followers into customers. And now you don’t have to be a web designer or coder to create a website on your own. Platforms like Shopify have made it simpler than ever to quickly create a quality website.
Once you create your website, there’s more to it than just taking pretty pictures of the clothing (even though that is very important).
You want to think like a customer! What content would have to be on your website to make it easier for them to shop from you?
When it comes to shopping online for clothes, customers usually have the most questions about fit and styling. So having a size guide for each product you sell and recommending how they can pair one item with others from your collection can go a long way in building confidence before a purchase.
You also want to write captivating product descriptions that make it easier for them to imagine themselves in the clothing. Bullet points about the size, length and color are important. But you also want to think about the lifestyle of your ideal customer.
How, where, and why will they wear the clothing? Use that information to make it interesting and engaging.
Marketing Your Online Clothing Boutique
Once your website is ready, people need to know your online clothing boutique exists to be able to sell boutique clothing.
That process is called marketing.
And there are many different ways you can make it work to sell more clothing.
Social media is probably the most popular. And every boutique should have some presence on the biggest platforms. But managing even one social media page is a full time job in itself, let alone trying to balance a handful of different platforms.
So we always recommend focusing on the one or two platforms that your target customer uses most often.
For example, visual platforms like Instagram are great because you’re able to showcase both photos and videos of your clothing. That can answer shopper’s questions about fit, color and any other important details. And give them more confidence to shop because they can clearly see what to expect when their order arrives.
And you can work with people who already have large, engaged audiences to promote your products too. That’s called influencer marketing and it’s a great way to get some more exposure, create content that you might be too busy to make yourself and get your products in front of more buyers.
But if you want to get in front of as many people as possible, then you need to be using paid ads. That’s how you’ll be able to amplify your reach (instead of hoping to find the right set of hashtags or viral reels). And the better you know your target customer profile, the simpler it will be to build an audience when creating an ad.
Want to learn how to use Facebook and Instagram ads to sell more clothing online? Click here to learn more.