You want to open an online boutique because you have a passion for clothes. You'll be able to profit from the $294 billion that customers spend on clothing each year.
The issue? You lack the capital necessary to launch a clothes business.
Here's how to start an online boutique on the cheap. From product discovery to web promotion, you'll have your boutique up and running in no time—even if you're on a tight budget.
How to start an online boutique with no money
1. Choose a business model
A business model outlines how you want to sell clothing through your online boutique.
Dropshipping clothing is ideal if you have no money, to begin with. Locate a dropshipping clothing supplier, put their imagery on your site, and pay for stuff only once it sells. You are exclusively in charge of marketing. It is the responsibility of your supplier to choose, pack, and ship products from your boutique to clients.
Other budget-friendly options include:
- Making your own clothes
- Private labeling
- Print on demand
2. Select products you’ll sell
Choosing a specialized market for your boutique allows you to establish yourself as the go-to place for a certain sort of clothing. That might be:
- Vintage clothes
- Baby clothes
- Dog clothes
- Plus-size clothing
- Vegan clothes
“Our boutique focuses on high-quality jewelry that is made to be worn,” explains Hannah Nash, online boutique owner and co-founder of Lucy Nash. Rather than purchasing mass-produced jewelry that will end up in a drawer, our items are one-of-a-kind and will complement any outfit.
“We also prioritize quality over quantity.” We exclusively use high-quality materials and expert craftspeople to produce each piece. This attention to detail assures that our customers will be able to enjoy their jewelry for many years.”
3. Write a business and marketing plan
A business plan for an online boutique explains how your company will attract clients and generate money online. Use this free business plan template to outline how you intend to work with minimum expenditure, including:
- Your business structure
- How you’ll source inventory
- Who are your competitors are
- If you’ll secure financing or funding
- Whether you need a business license
- Budgets for inventory, marketing, and paid ads
While you're preparing, create a marketing plan that describes your target market and how you intend to contact them.
Which social media marketing channels are you going to use? What kinds of material does your target consumer consume? How would you get them to visit your online boutique? To answer these questions, use a free marketing plan template.
4. Create a brand
A brand distinguishes your online boutique from the competition. Yours should explain what you sell, who you sell to, and why people should shop at your boutique.
To DIY a visual brand on a budget, create:
- A business name
- A tagline or slogan
- A value proposition
- A visual identity, including a professional logo, fonts, and colors
Whatever you decide, keep your online boutique's branding consistent across all touchpoints with potential consumers. Brand consistency may boost income by up to 33%.
5. Open your online store
To sell clothes through online boutiques, you must have an ecommerce website where buyers can search, explore, and buy your inventory.
Shopify makes it really simple for anyone to construct a really good, professional, and helpful website, as long as you do some research into which themes work best for you and are ready to pay a little fee for their use.Ahmed Samir, founder of as-educate
Take note of the following aspects of your online store:
- Clothing product photography. Display your boutique inventory in a variety of settings, such as models of varying sizes, hanging on a hanger, or folded up.
- Product descriptions. Share your size guide, the material used, and why your boutique's inventory is unique compared to other companies.
- Navigation. By connecting bestselling products and categories, you may help visitors find new things in your boutique.
- Store policies. Giving potential consumers this important information up front, from shipping to refunds, frequently makes them more comfortable making their first purchase.
What's the best part? You don't need a lot of money to get started. With Shopify's Starter plan, you can start selling online right now. You may acquire all the tools you need to sell on social media for just $5 per month. “Shopify makes it very easy for anyone to establish a really lovely, professional, and helpful website, as long as you do a little research into what themes work best for you, and are ready to spend a little money for their use,” says Mariko Ichikawa, creator of Mariko Ichikawa. You may acquire all the tools you need to sell on social media for just $5 per month.
6. Decide on your shipping strategy
How will you get your online boutique's merchandise to your customers? Shopify Shipping provides lower shipping costs. It will avoid the additional expenditures that prohibit almost half of potential clients from completing a purchase.
Consider local and international delivery prices, as well as if you'll provide free shipment—66% of buyers are turned off if they have to pay for shipping. By establishing a minimum purchase barrier, such as “pay $50 for free delivery,” you may avoid this problem without jeopardizing your earnings.
If you run your online boutique using the dropshipping business strategy, this difficulty is completely removed from your plate. Your dropshipping provider is in charge of order fulfillment and shipment.
7. Price your boutique’s inventory
Pricing your inventory is one of the most difficult aspects of starting an online boutique. You'll have to sell your things for more than they cost you.
Consider the following pricing strategies:
- Penetration pricing
- Competitive Pricing
- Value-based pricing
- Psychological pricing
Profit margins may be calculated with this free calculator regardless of the pricing model you choose. Bake fixed expenses (mostly your domain and Shopify plan) into your product pricing to ensure that you're still making a profit after deducting the online boutique's overheads.
8. Get set up to take payment
You've determined the prices for each item in your online boutique. Next, set up your payment processor to receive money from each consumer.
Debit or credit card payments are the most common. Accept these with Shopify Payments on your online store. Customers may pay for online purchases with their American Express, Visa, or Mastercard.
To increase sales, provide different payment ways for your boutique in addition to debit and credit cards. This includes the following:
- Bank transfer
- Mobile wallets, such as Apple Pay or Google Pay
- Buy now, pay later, such as Shop Pay Installments
9. Start promoting your online boutique
Your work does not end once your boutique is up for business. Smart marketing methods boost the likelihood of consumers discovering your online shop. The more traffic your ecommerce website receives, the better your chances of generating money online.
Promote your online boutique using free marketing strategies such as:
- Creating TikTok videos
- Offering a discount code
- Hosting a social media giveaway
- Guest posting on clothing publications
- Gifting free products to fashion influencers
- Running an automated email marketing campaign
Use Shopify analytics to determine what works—and then do more of it.
10. Optimize your online store
An online store's average conversion rate is only 2.86%. The sort of traffic you drive to your online boutique has a significant influence on your conversion rate. However, there are things you may do to increase income from existing website visits.
Optimize your online store by implementing conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategies such as:
- One-click checkout.
- Trust signals, such as payment processor logos or free returns policy.
- A/B testing elements on the page, such as your product photos or layout.
- Mobile-friendly design that automatically resizes based on a visitor’s device.
- Showcasing social proof, such as customer reviews or user-generated content.
You don’t need cash to start an online boutique
A wonderful low-cost business idea is to open an online boutique. Choose a company strategy that doesn't require any upfront capital, such as dropshipping or print on demand, and explain how you'll work within a tight budget with a solid business plan.
Get up and running with Shopify’s Starter plan from $5 per month.
How to start an online boutique with no money FAQ
An online boutique may be a lucrative company since it allows you to access the $775 billion spent on fashion by worldwide customers. The secret to success is to keep track of your profit margins and sell garments at a greater price than you paid for them.
Begin by selecting a business model that does not require an initial expenditure, such as dropshipping. Find a dependable supplier, integrate their inventory with your internet store, and begin marketing your boutique online.
With Shopify's Starter plan, you can start an online business for as low as $5 per month. If you dropship inventory for your online boutique, you will only pay for it once it has been sold.
6. Luxury goods