When it comes to starting an online children’s clothing boutique, you probably have a lot of questions. There are a lot of steps to go from your idea to actually getting your first customer. Here in Start Your Boutique, we’ll look at each key piece of the journey. And we’ll recommend resources to help you get closer to your goals.
Understanding Your Customer
If you want to start an online children’s clothing boutique, the first thing you should do is be clear on who you’re selling to. It’s all about understanding your target customer. You can get more details about that here.
Unlike other boutiques, an online children’s clothing boutique is a bit different. Your customer isn’t the one who will be wearing the clothes. So your focus should be on the person who is actually able to make the purchase.
In this business, your customer will primarily be the mom (or grandmother/aunt) who is shopping for the child. So that means that everything about your brand, products and marketing should speak to her.
As a new online boutique owner, you need to get clear on what your ‘mom’ values for her child—at whatever stage or season they are in. For example, the mom of a newborn will probably focus on things like quality, comfort and function. They’d need things that wash well without fading, or are safe to zip or button up. Whereas a toddler mom might be more focused on the versatility and style of the clothing.
So being clear about who your target customer is and what her needs are when she’s shopping will be super important. You want to make her decision to shop with your future boutique as simple and easy as possible.
Business Essentials for an Online Boutique
Once you have clarity around who you’re selling to, you want to take care of the business essentials for your online boutique. The first step on how to start an online boutique is to choose a boutique name and make sure no one else is using it.
That way, you can create an LLC, get your EIN, buy the associated web domain and secure all of your social handles.
You want to make sure that your brand is cohesive and one of the best ways to do that is to make sure that you can be found easily online. Someone should be able to type in your business name on whatever platform you’re on and find you.
These are all necessary steps as you’re just starting an online children’s clothing boutique.
Once you have those in place, you also want to know if your state requires you to have any permits. If the state charges sales tax, you’d likely need a sales tax permit. And most vendors require that you have one in order to purchase items at wholesale prices. So before you buy an inventory, you want to make sure that you meet all the requirements for your online children’s clothing boutique.
Buying Inventory for your Online Children’s Clothing Boutique
Now this is the exciting part!
Once you’re ready to purchase your first inventory, revisit your target customer. You want to make sure that you’re only selecting items she’ll love! The more clear you are around what she wants, the simpler it will be for her to make a purchasing decision.
One of the first questions you may have is: “where do online boutiques buy clothes?”
Well there are a few options. You can learn more about them here.
The most popular are trade shows, wholesale markets and, of course, buying online. Buying your inventory online is the most convenient by far, but it does come with it’s challenges.
First, you need to find US-based vendors. Going overseas might initially seem more cost effective, but when you factor in things like language barriers, shipping delays and product availability, it might end up costing you more in time and frustration.
If you’re looking for the right vendors, get instant access to this curated list of 60+ US-based vendors trusted by brands like Macy’s, Nordstrom and SpearmintLOVE.
When you do find a vendor that you love, you want to plan out your initial collection. You don’t want customers just buying one thing, so it’s important that you curate a shopping experience for your online boutique.
And you also have to make sure that you’re pricing your products correctly. If you don’t have a good profit margin, you could make a lot of sales and still not make any money to reinvest into your boutique.
That’s why it’s critical to learn how to buy inventory the right way before launching your online boutique.
Design Your Online Boutique Website
Once you have placed your initial inventory order, you want to turn your attention to your website.
There are a lot of things to consider when creating a website and it’s important to make the right first impression.
One of the most important things will be your photos. You want to make sure that you’re capturing the clothing in it’s best light. And that may mean springing for a professional photo shoot. The benefit of having professional photos is twofold: you build instant trust with a new shopper plus you can use the photos across your website, social media and ads. Remember: it’s all about making the right first impression.
Next, you have to think about your ‘copy’ or the text that appears throughout your website. As always, think about your target customer. What would she need to read on your home page and in your product descriptions to make her feel like she should shop at your online boutique?
When you have a sense of who that customer is, you’ll know what language will motivate her to go from browser to buyer. Moms can be picky and rightfully so. Which means it’s even more important that you speak to her values and needs.
Whether she wants her baby to be cozy and cute or her toddler to be fun and fashionable, your job as an online boutique owner is to make her feel like she found the perfect place to shop.
There are a bunch of technical aspects too. You want a website that is mobile responsive—meaning it’s easy to use on the phone. And you also want to design your online boutique website so it’s simple to search through and navigate. There’s nothing worse than when a customer knows what she wants and can’t find it.
Based on where you go, a website may cost you thousands of dollars—and that’s before you make one penny from your online boutique.
But it doesn’t have to be so expensive. You can learn how to create a conversion-optimized Shopify website on your own—without needing to be a graphic designer or coder. Click here to learn more.
Marketing Your Online Children’s Clothing Boutique
Once you have a website, now you have to get the word out. Growing an online boutique is a numbers game so you have to get as many of your target customers to your website as possible.
People can only buy what they see and if no one knows your boutique exists, then you won’t be in business for long. That’s why it’s important that you actually put time, effort and money into marketing your online children’s clothing boutique.
The first thing you should do is determine a monthly marketing budget. If you want to grow your online boutique, you have to be willing to invest in it, and it’s important when you’re starting an online children’s clothing boutique. Now it doesn’t have to be a lot, but it should be consistent. I recommend anywhere from $300-500 every month as you start. And there are a few ways you can spend it.
Best Strategies to Market Your Online Children’s Clothing Boutique
Remember that your target customer is a mom. And moms are one of the largest and most active demographic groups on social media. And they have a wide array of interests. From homeschooling to meal prep and yes, kid’s fashion, you can pretty much find a mom group for anything.
That’s why it’s important to be active and engaged on the channels they use. One of the largest platforms is Facebook and, with that, Instagram. And while it’s important to curate a great Instagram feed, you get more visibility when you advertise on the platforms.
Gone are the days of being able to grow a million dollar business with a Facebook page. Now more than ever, you have to invest in advertising to grow. So understanding how to use the ad platforms, create ads, interpret the data and make sales are all important skills to have as a new online boutique owner.
Confused about how to use Facebook and Instagram ads to grow your online boutique? Learn more here.
And because there are many huge mom communities online, one of the most effective strategies you can use is influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing is working with an online personality to share your brand and products with their audience. So for example, if you offer stylish looks for babies 0 – 24 months, you can partner with an influencer who is a new mom or mom-to-be who is sharing relevant content with her channel.
Of course it’s important to know how to choose the right influencer to work with. There are a lot of big accounts with fake followers, likes and comments. And it’s easy to be confused by the appearance of popularity online.
Need help growing with influencers? Learn how with Influencer Marketing 101.
So let’s recap.
When starting an online children’s clothing boutique, the most important thing to consider is who your customer will be.
That will help you decide what inventory to buy, how to create your website and where to market your business. There are a lot of things to consider but just take things step by step. As you accomplish small goals, you’ll build momentum.
And then be able to confidently launch your online children’s boutique when you have all the right pieces in place.
For the right resources to help you launch and grow your online boutique, go here.