How to Start a Website Boutique

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Many people dream of starting a boutique business where they can retail items they are passionate about, such as cosmetics, movies or books, but the cost of a brick and mortar store is quite expensive. Another option is launching an online boutique, which is not only much less cost prohibitive, but will allow you to reach a worldwide audience. Before starting a website boutique, there are many things you need to consider.

Decide what you will be selling on your website boutique. For instance, you can retail handmade candles, designer home décor, clothing or shoes.

Determine where you will get the products you plan to sell—you can make the products, buy them wholesale from a distributor or company, or dropship (where it's shipped directly from the manufacturer). Dropshipping eliminates the need to ship products or carry inventory, but is not as profitable as selling items that you make or buying them at wholesale cost.

Choose a name for your boutique that is descriptive, interesting and original. For instance, if you are selling candles, a name like “Discount Candles” is not original or interesting, but “Soy Beautiful Candles” is. Buy a domain name that contains your boutique name from a registrar such as Go Daddy.

Pick an e-commerce platform for your boutique, such as CoreCommerce, PappaShops, Big Commerce or ProStores. Most online store platforms come with built-in templates, payment processing options, hosting and product management software. The service you choose will also have instructions for linking your store to your domain.

Obtain any state or county permits you may need, such as a resale permit or tax identification number, EIN (employer identification number) from the IRS, and an assumed name certificate. If you plan to buy your inventory wholesale, you may need at least one of these forms of business identification.

Buy packaging to ship your products in, if you will not be dropshipping, from a company such as Nashville Wraps or ULine. If you prefer, buy custom-made packaging that bears your boutique name and website address.

Promote your website boutique by listing your business in online and print shopping directories, advertising on a related website or blog, starting a company blog where you give shopping tips and coupon codes to your readers, or sponsoring a contest where the winner receives a gift certificate to your store.