How to Start an Online Boutique

One of the questions that seem to never get old is “How to start an online boutique?” fashion changes from time to time and clothing choices gives you the chance to choose from different collections and it could be for men, women, or even both. Take note that clothing usually has steep markups that would allow you to make mistakes as time goes on without having to destroy your profit margin. Jeans usually have a hunder to 350 percent markup which leaves you with a significant cushion for you to give discounts on your products and even compete with the big dogs in the fashion retail industry. Just like with clothing, it’s a bit similar with jewelry, you get to make a ton of money because most of the price is subjective based on how it looks, and you even get to pick from a lot of niches in the market.


There’s no necessity to obtain a special license when you launch your online boutique because it’s clothing. All you really need to do is look into the small business laws in your area and search for the licensing that your state requires. Avoiding problems from the very start when you are still starting is a very good idea. The next thing that you should plan ahead of time is whether you would be storing your own merchandise or you won’t. There’s a downside to that as well as benefits too. Most of the businesses that have large inventory would need to double check the local lease or the zoning codes. If you have a hundred pairs of clothing, they probably won’t care if you let it cram in your basement. But when that number turns into thousands, it starts to get messy and if you live in an apartment, that just won’t work.

First step is to locate the right suppliers

There are a lot of different type of suppliers and it could get hard to figure out which locations would really have the best items. So you better start thinking about your niche at this point.

It sounds like a good idea to follow the footsteps of large companies who have men and women clothing, pants, jewelry, socks, shirts, and everything else, but the truth is most of the large successful brands actually start smaller. They actually start by concentrating on a single niche. For example, you might decide that you should cater to women who are interested in high fashion looks that are inspired by the 70s. These are going to be harder to find items and there’s no assurance the price tag would be affordable too. But if you already have a supplier for these then you are ahead of the curve and you should definitely get on it right away! One trick to remember is that when luck goes your way and you find a supplier that has special products like the one we mentioned above, you should take it cause you’re ahead of the others. Do your research because that would lead you to success.

STORING: The Wholesale Route

The most traditional route to take purchase the product wholesale and store it in your basement, garage, warehouse, or wherever it would be kept safely. Wholesalers are more known and easy to find compared to dropshippers, it’s easy to spot them because they are easy to find even on Google. When it comes to these things all you need to do is search your niche and add wholesaler, and viola you’d be handed with a lot of suppliers. Alibaba is one of the known websites where you could find suppliers, there are a lot of cheap priced goods there that are for sale in wholesale price.  

This Industry is Flexible

Every customer in the fashion industry wants something awesome all the time. There’s no need for it to be new, there are a lot of clothing stores that was launched by people who sell items on eBay after going through pre used clothes store to find the gems. You might be wondering why we’re talking about that now, well this is something you would need to store as well. The difference of this and the wholesalers are this is preloved, it could be used or not but it was already owned by someone else, and these are usually way cheaper. Back to wholesalers, they are usually open to start new businesses and most relationships usually start that way and if you stick to that wholesaler you eventually get perks from it such as more pricing discounts, mode of payments, and others more.

You might be wondering what you can benefit from wholesale by now, some of the benefits you could get is:

  • Clothing is usually easy to store and it could be packed in a way that it won’t take up a lot of space
  • You get to have the opportunity to control your shipping and the packaging that your clothing would go into.
  • You would have more control of the quality.

Downsides are:

  • Shipping and packaging efforts
  • It’s costly short term
  • Overhead cost

Second Step is to Consider Dropshipping

Dropshipping is a bit more difficult compared to setting up your online store. This is because not all of the suppliers of clothes offer dropshipping. But luckily, there’s Aliexpress which is a great place where you can start and search based on the type of clothing and suppliers.

Benefits of dropshipping

  • No need to pay for storage
  • Shipping and packaging is not your problem
  • You spend less as you start


  • Customer service problems may arise
  • You can’t inspect the product before shipping
  • It may take long until your customer receive products

Step 3 Vetting Your Suppliers

It doesn’t really matter that much  if you choose wholesale selling or drop shipping because they both have a fair share of ups and downs. It’s also important that you vet your suppliers to see if in the long run, the partnership would be worth it. The idea is to make sure that you get to talk to someone over the phone, make notes, and learn more about the supplier.  

Fourth step best online store design

There are a lot of eCommerce platforms that come with great templates for boutiques. Some of them you could find in WooCommerce, Bigcommerce, Volusion, and Shopify.  This is a popular niche, you would have to make sure you choose a template that matches your brand. If you are still starting, it would be a great idea to start on Shopify. This allows you to use their boutique template and get the product info from Aliexpress through Oberlo automatically.

Fifth Step is to Begin Mass Marketing

It’s a bit easier to market your boutique compares to other industries because social media channels enjoy seeing products related to fashion, especially the audience you could find on Instagram and Facebook.  


  • Let regular people wear your merch and take photos as well as share it on your Facebook or Instagram page.
  • Pause ads temporarily
  • Make sure photos showcase the products and it’s visually appealing.
  • Launch an email list where you’d send the rewards and coupons.


Starting an online boutique relies on the research you do to find the best supplier and effort in the industry. The goal here is to make sure that you are affordable, you have good services, and you have great customer service. 

6 Response to "How to Start an Online Boutique"

  1. Comment From Jennifer Kush

    I was always wondering how to start it, is it still okay even if I don’t really have much knowledge on eCommerce? I do good research though.

  2. Comment From Harlow McMurphy

    Oh this is so on point! Very interesting, I will let my sister read this.

  3. Comment From Greg Markston

    For a person who has zero knowledge on online businesses, I think this article made me understand the basics of how it works online.

  4. Comment From Bruce Davis

    Owning a brick and mortar business is very different from owning an online business, and this is a good start when you want to try online businesses.

  5. Comment From Jackson Korrey

    Such a good read! Very very interesting.

  6. Comment From Hellen Braveheart

    I have always felt like I can’t lean how to start an online business because there was just so many things I can’t understand. But after reading this article, I felt like I finally know something and i’m feeling motivated to try it.

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