How to Start an Online Clothing Boutique with Shopify

Shopify boutique

According to Statista, global retail e-commerce sales would grow to $4.5 trillion by 2021. More than ever now’s the right time to know how to start an online clothing boutique.

To get things rolling, I have created a super easy guide on how to start an online boutique, even if you’re someone with zero experience.

This post is dedicated to just that, and it explains all that you need to do in 7 simple steps, as well as some legal documentation that might be useful.

In this guide, we have discussed the step-by-step process for starting an online boutique in a matter of minutes.

Let’s get started!

Step-1 Create a business plan

Start by choosing your niche – When it comes to starting an online boutique there is a variety of clothing and accessories that you can sell. Try to narrow down your product categories and target specific audience in the beginning. For instance, if you want to sell kids clothing, target it towards a particular age group.

A similar example for this is Little Fashionista Boutique, a store generating over $12,000 by simply dropshipping children clothing (mostly girls clothing) for a specific age group.

Little Fashionista Boutique(1)

If you have no idea about the best clothing products to sell on your online boutique. Simply headon to KwFinder and check the fashion products with less competition, and more search volume.

Trends keep changing and so you need to find what makes your clothing unique. Like, in the beginning of the Corona pandemic, the most trending fashion product was high waist shapewear.

Optimize your products based on current trends. For example, many online brands customized their products to Corona products line.

Keyword for ecommerce marketing

You can also checkout Amazon store’s fashion category to see what’s performing the best best selling clothing.

Try to keep your online boutique niche specific in the beginning for better conversion rate and higher return on investment (ROI).

Do a quick analysis for target market 

You can use tools like Google Trends to analyze the best performing products in the marketplace. Simply enter the type of clothing products to find out how popular it is.

Google trends

Before you start selling, its better to know a little more about your customers, right?

  • Think about a relevant customer base – Think about who is most likely to buy this product? Is there a bigger brand to compete?
  • Check your customer base – Perform a quick analysis to find out how big your customer base is. Apparel market alone contributes to 1.5 billion US dollars. Similarly, you can use platforms like Statistia and other credible sources to see how big your audience is. 
  • Specify demographics – Try to figure out a demographics report featuring age, location, gender, occupation, income, etc about your target audience.

Step-2 Choose between wholesale or dropshipping

Dropshipping vs inventory

Unless you manufacture your own products, you will need to find a supplier for your online boutique. 

  • Dropshipping model – Where supplier ships goods directly to the customer on a per order basis. This means you only pay when a customer purchase a clothing item. There are dropshipping apps that give you complete flexibility to design and dropship your clothing products. The best part about dropshipping is that you don’t have to keep an inventory and you can get started without any investment.
  • Inventory model – You’d have to find Wholesale clothing suppliers and a warehouse location for storage. Don’t forget to get your warehouse insured. Next you will need to buy in bulk, so be sure about the products you want (less preferred because of risk factor).

Be sure to thoroughly investigate your wholesale supplier, as well as verify the manufacturer details and access the brand reputation of your supplier. This can be done through their Google ratings, BBB+, online reviews and so on.

Step-3 Register on Shopify for free

How to start an online boutique with shopify

There are a lot of eCommerce platforms for starting an online boutique, but I’d highly recommend Shopify over others. This is mainly because they have more POD suppliers, 24/7 support, budget friendly apps and everything-at-one-place interface.

Another one is WooCommerce which is cheaper, but it will cost you a lot to add add-ons. For example, Oberlo (a free dropshipping app) exclusively for Shopify, will otherwise cost $49 (if you go with WooCommerce dropshipping app).

For the purpose of this guide, let’s create a trial account with Shopify

Shopify makes signing up and building an online boutique a cakewalk. All you have to do is visit their website and click the “Start free trial” button. In the beginning, you will get a free 14 days trial to get things going.

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Step-4 Select your dropshipping supplier

Shopify process dropshipping online boutique

What makes Shopify a fit for starting an online boutique is the tons of print on demand companies that integrate with them. You can design custom clothing and start selling right away.

Simply head on to Shopify app store and look for the types of products you’d want to have on your online boutique. My best picks are:

  • Printful – Design and dropship high quality products  
  • MY ONLINE FASHION STORE – Get access to 5000+ fashion items
  • Gooten – Awesome Shopify app for multiple print methods
  • Dropship Beauty – Sell beauty products on your online boutique
  • Teelaunch – Create eye-catchy t-shirts
  • T-POP – Organic cotton products for Europe
  • SPOD – Give your customers ability to design their clothes
  • Fuel – Cheapest print on demand products

Your dropshipping supplier will give you a mockup generator to design your custom products. You can then set the listing on your online store and the company will drop ship your designed product when the order arrives.

Another great place for finding dropshipping suppliers is SaleHoo, a supplier directory.

legal documents dog

In order to get your boutique up and running legally, you’d have to do a few quick things. First, register your online store as a business identity:

  • Sole Proprietorship/LLP – A Sole Proprietorship is the simplest type of business to form. You’d need only a few legal documents.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – With an LLC, you can create a protection between you and your business store. But you’d need more additional documents
  • Corporation – Select this if you are looking for funding and investors.

After selecting the structure, you would like for your business model, you can proceed with the following steps…

  1. EIN – If you are not a sole proprietor, you’d need an EIN (employer identification number) for taxation. However, sole proprietors with no employees can use their social security number for this.
  2. ITIN – Individual tax identification number is required if you are a non-us resident with no SSN (social security number) for tax processing. 
  3. Seller’s permit – Seller permit or resale license or business license is required for selling merchandise. You can get it from your sales taxing authority
  4. DBA Doing business as is required if you are starting your business using a name other than the owner’s name, or a name that is different from your legal name. 
  5. Operating bylaws – A few states require LLC business identities to have operating agreements.

Step-6 Name your online boutique

Boutique name

Your boutique name aka domain name is the first thing your visitor will notice. When you are finding a name for your fashion boutique, make sure it is…

  • Brandable, short and unique – A good, catchy store name will help you develop your brand (which is essential if you are looking for a long term business). A short, unique domain name will not only be more memorable for your audience, but also good for SEO.
  • Relevant but specific – If you are launching a car website and your domain name is something like ABCvehicles.com, it might not be the best choice. Instead, if you go for ABC-cars.com it would be more specific and absolutely relevant. your audience would be able to know about your site.

However, if you have to choose between relevancy and brand, go for the brand. One of the most common examples of this is Amazon. You can use boutique name generator to get some solid suggestions.

One you have picked up a domain name, get it registered on Shopify, or Namecheap. While Shopify charge $11 per year for a domain name, you can get it on Namecheap for $6.98 per year. Here’s how to connect an existing Namecheap registered domain to your Shopify store.

Step-7 Design your online boutique for brand aesthetic

Now that you have signed up your Shopify store, it’s time to make it look appealing. Giving your store a good aesthetic is important for building your brand’s reputation, trustworthiness and improving the overall user experience.

Shopify theme

So when you select a theme for your Shopify store, think how it will look on your store. Ask yourself, whether or not this design will look good on your store niche.

After that you can use Hatchful, a free logo maker for adding to your store design. You will also need to create legal pages like refund policy for providing information regarding your website policies. You can easily create these pages for free using Shopify business tools.

What to do after setting up an online boutique?

A few years back, it was a lot more difficult to sell online. Nevertheless, the new user-friendly platforms like Shopify have made it a lot easier. You can easily start an online store with a slim-to-none investment. Know all the important things for starting an online boutique during Corona before going ahead.

Now that you know how to start an online boutique, it’s time to take the next steps. Start by optimizing your online boutique and improving the overall Shopify SEO.

If you already have an offline store with great popularity and need a more sophisticated online platform, you can always upgrade to Shopify Plus.

At this point, the guide on how to start an online boutique is officially complete, but I’d like to suggest some eCommerce marketing strategies for the heads start: 

  • Create unique Facebook/Instagram ads – Facebook marketing is saturated, but you can still make a good conversion for your products.
  • Create a blog- Start a simple blog and search for target keywords in your niche using KwFinder.
  • Referral marketing – You will ask your customers to refer your store to a friend for a reward. 
  • Loyalty program – Pat your customers for buying from your store again and again. 
  • Influencer marketing – Find influencers in your niche and ask them to promote your product.
  • Affiliate marketing – provide a small commission on your sales for promoting your product.

I hope this step-by-step guide on how to start an online boutique helped you, if you have any questions, feel free to let me know in the comments below, or reach me out via contact page.

Written by – Pulkit Bhardwaj