So you’ve decided that you want to start an online boutique, now you’re wondering “How do I actually order clothes for my boutique?” I get it, there is a ton of information online to wade through. So, I’ve created a quick overview of how boutique owners actually purchase merchandise for their stores.

how to order clothes for your online boutique

Licensing & Permits

Like any business, it is important to make sure you have the proper licensing and permits. Check your state and local city websites for further information. In most cases, it is necessary to receive a reseller/sales tax permit. Getting this permit is one of the key steps that will allow you to do business with wholesale vendors.

Set your Purchasing Budget BEFORE Ordering Clothes for Your Boutique

Setting a clear and realistic purchasing budget is a fundamental step in the process of ordering clothes for your boutique. It’s not just a financial exercise; it’s a strategic decision that can significantly impact your business’s financial health, inventory turnover, and overall profitability.

Without a predetermined budget, there’s a risk of succumbing to impulse buying. You might be tempted to invest in a large quantity of trendy items without considering their actual demand or your customers’ preferences.

A budget acts as a restraint, guiding your purchasing decisions based on careful consideration rather than immediate desires. It encourages you to focus on acquiring items that align with your niche market and have a higher likelihood of selling, maximizing your return on investment.

When starting an online boutique, you can start with as little as $1,000 set aside for inventory purchasing. 

Purchasing Strategy

When choosing your wholesale vendor, you will need to decide between a domestic supplier or an overseas supplier. While going overseas may be cheaper, it comes with its own set of challenges such as a language barrier, clothing quality, getting your shipment through customs in a timely manner (there have been horror stories), and lots of added taxes and fees for importing goods.

Where to Order Clothes for Your Boutique

When it comes to ordering inventory for your online boutique, there are several strategic avenues to explore. One of the most convenient options is to source products from reputable online wholesale marketplaces so that you can browse, select and buy wholesale inventory right from your couch.

Most online wholesale marketplace platforms often offer user-friendly interfaces, secure payment gateways, and buyer protection policies, making the ordering process smooth and reliable. You can also read reviews from other online boutique owners to gauge the credibility of the suppliers, ensuring you’re partnering with trustworthy vendors.

Another option is to attend in person trade shows and wholesale markets so that you can establish direct relationships with manufacturers and wholesalers. This approach allows you to negotiate personalized deals, ensuring competitive pricing and exclusive products tailored to your boutique’s unique identity. Attending trade shows and visiting permanent showrooms at wholesale markets can be instrumental in connecting with potential suppliers face-to-face, fostering trust and transparency in your partnerships.

Saving Money When Ordering Clothes for Your Boutique

Saving money while buying inventory for your boutique is not just about finding the cheapest deals; it’s about making strategic decisions that maximize your budget and enhance your profitability in the long run.

Many brands offer discounts on special items or certain styles of a product near the end of each season. These items can help your online boutique offer interesting inventory to your customers and also increase your profit margin. Be sure to join your wholesale vendor’s email list so you can be notified of any specials and sales that may be happening.

Another money-saving strategy involves cultivating strong relationships with your suppliers.

Reliable suppliers often offer loyal customers special deals, discounts, or exclusive access to limited-time offers. By nurturing these relationships, you can negotiate better terms, gain access to clearance sales, or even receive early notifications about upcoming promotions — things that they may never blast to their email list but only tell a few of their favorite retail partners about.

Moreover, paying invoices promptly and being a consistent, trustworthy client can lead to favorable credit terms, saving you money on interest and late fees.

Building a strong rapport with your suppliers not only helps you secure better prices but also ensures smoother transactions and a reliable supply chain, enhancing your boutique’s overall efficiency and financial health.

Another effective way to save money is by buying more — yes, seriously!

Many wholesalers offer discounts for larger purchases, allowing you to secure a lower per-unit cost.

By carefully forecasting your inventory needs and making bulk orders, you can take advantage of these discounts, significantly reducing your overall expenses. Additionally, buying in bulk reduces shipping costs per item, saving you money on transportation fees.

NOTE: You only want to do this once you’ve been in business for a while and you are confident that you can sell the inventory.

Timing Product Deliveries with Seasons/Holidays

The fashion industry generally goes through two main seasons: Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. Depending on the target market you have chosen, you will have to purchase your biggest stock of inventory two to four times per year with minor purchases in between to readjust to your customers’ tastes.

Make sure to schedule your inventory delivery to coincide with major buying seasons. Gift cycles typically begin with delivery before the major winter holidays, beginning in October.