Positive cash flow, solid advertising, stellar customer service and inventory that’s in-demand are all factors that contribute to a successful boutique, no matter what you sell. From furniture to clothing to jewelry, shoes, bikinis and everything in between, your boutique must have these components in place to not only stay in business but to thrive as well.
Positive cash flow is a good sign of business sustainability. According to Michael C. Volker at Simon Fraser University, “cash flow is like the blood that flows in our veins,” so it is an important concept to the future growth and sustainability of your boutique. In a very basic sense, cash flow is defined as more money coming in than going out. So how exactly do boutiques achieve positive cash flow? A combination of cost of goods sold, gross margin and expenses contribute to a boutique’s cash flow. Note that cash flow does not mean profit, either. Instead, cash flow means physical money that comes into the business as a result of all these factors combined. Talk to a certified public accountant to understand your boutique’s cash flow. A good CPA will provide insight on where your boutique can improve in terms of cash flow.
A successful boutique knows where it stands in the marketplace while filling a niche in the retail sphere. Because a boutique generally specializes in one unique category – for example, jewelry or women’s fashion – it’s important to capitalize on your strengths and market to your audience appropriately. A good way to start is by understanding your demographic. Grasp insight into your core customer for targeted ad placements, better community outreach programs and successful promotional events. Advertising to your demographic results in effective market positioning, a better return on investment and greater store awareness.
The very best boutiques know that exemplary customer service is one of the best ways to retain customers and create positive branding in the local marketplace. But good customer service is more than just stellar service. Good customer service means taking care of the customer in every aspect, from an easy return policy to trouble-free special ordering to follow up calls and thank-you notes. These extra measures brand your boutique as a great place to shop and increase the chances your customer will come back again.
Boutiques fill a retail niche, offering the very best inventory for their category. That’s why it’s important to sell products that are highly-sought and in demand. The concept sounds simple, but it can prove to be complex in the face of emerging trends and customer preferences. Understanding your market allows you to get the needed insight on future inventory buys. For example, a teen fashion boutique can stay on top of trends by appointing a fashion ambassador for its store. Connect with local high schools and create an after-school fashion program where up-and-coming fashionistas host fashion shows, discuss up-coming trends and work with your store’s buyer (in many cases, that’s you) to discover areas of opportunity in your boutique’s inventory.