What is the best way to open a boutique business?
Does it start with purchasing the very best pieces? Maybe.
Does it start with finding the best vendors? Potentially.
There are many ways to start a boutique business, but we have found that the most successful boutique business owners share one commonality: investing in the best software and hardware from the outset.
At POS Nation, we’ve seen retailers make the same mistakes time and time again. Let’s start with the essential five steps on how to start a boutique business, so you don’t make those same mistakes. We’ll also review what software and hardware are essential to include on your to-do list, including a modern POS (point of sale) system.
How to Start a Boutique Business: 5 Easy Steps
Starting your boutique business is an excellent way to combine your enthusiasm for fashion and your entrepreneurial spirit. The best part of starting a boutique is instilling your creative influence into every single detail. From the moment your customers find you online through their checkout process, your boutique can be precisely the way you’ve envisioned it.
There are tons of steps to starting a small business, so let’s get those out of the way and get into how to start a boutique business. The first steps of starting any business include registering your business with your state and federal government and obtaining all the operational permits required by your local government.
Once you have all your necessary paperwork and permits filled, the fun part begins: purchasing your inventory, planning your business strategies, and attracting your first customers.
1. Look to Other Businesses for Inspiration
This is a case of not reinventing the wheel. There are tons of resources and mentors available online to help you through the process of starting your boutique business.
Once you’ve found someone you would like to learn from, it’s all about asking the right questions.
Try asking questions surrounding:
- What challenges did they face?
- How did they generate early success?
- What was the key to their success?
After you’ve done some reconnaissance of how that boutique owner has succeeded in their space, the next step is to ask yourself: how can you replicate this success for my business?
By learning from what others have done in the boutique industry, you’re able to learn from their mistakes while networking with possible collaborators. Building a network of boutique owners that you can work with and learn from is the fastest way to get your boutique started up the right way.
2. Strategically Manage Your Inventory
What’s a boutique owner’s worst nightmare? Buying too much of a piece that doesn’t sell.
Starting slow and doing significant research on what your target customers want is crucial before making your first inventory purchase. Once you clearly understand what your customers want in their closets, the next step is strategically planning your inventory purchasing.
During your grand opening, you’ll see what inventory you’ve over or underestimated. The key to staying financially successful and catering to your target customers is strategically planning out your inventory purchasing. Tracking your sales is a central factor that will help you determine which pieces are performing well amongst your target customers and what pieces aren’t.
Tracking your inventory sales ideally should be done with your POS system automatically. At POS Nation, we’ve heard firsthand from our clients the massive difference sales tracking has made for their businesses. An easy-to-use yet modern POS system enables you to make informed decisions on your inventory seamlessly.
3. Launch a Few Marketing Campaigns
Marketing campaigns are not only for your grand opening. Launching several marketing campaigns within the first few months of your business lets you see what marketing and advertising strategies work best for your boutique.
Say you launch an advertising campaign that targets 20 to 29-year-olds in your local neighborhood. If that campaign performs poorly no matter what social media post you advertise, you can consider another similar demographic. Let’s say the next advertising campaign you run, you include 20 to 39-year-olds in a local, affluent neighborhood, and that campaign is a hit!
There’s no way to truly know what marketing and advertising strategies work for your business until you see the results and test out new methods. A crucial part of testing is to make sure these new methods and strategies fit in with your original marketing plan. As long as you’re staying true to your initial goals and tracking the return on investment (ROI) on your marketing and advertising campaigns, you’ll find a successful campaign strategy that works for your boutique.
4. Bring in New Products
Once you understand which pieces perform well in your boutique and have a steady stream of customers, the next step is to freshen up your inventory.
One of the worst-case scenarios after a successful launch is having a customer return to your store a month later and not find anything new that catches their eye. Although that customer was interested and excited in your store, your lack of fresh inventory turned them away.
Utilizing your POS system, you’re able to make informed decisions on what new products will do well based on your current sales data. For example, if customers love the quality of your shirts, you can re-order from that same vendor, but with a different style. In this scenario, the customers that were excited about your original inventory now have more pieces that bring them into your boutique.
5. Tailor Promotions on Incoming Data
Making inventory and promotional decisions without data is like operating your business with a blindfold on. Data is everything when it comes to finding out what pieces are performing well, how fast they stay on the shelves, and what promotions perform the best.
When data influences something as crucial as inventory purchasing and promotions, it’s vital to have business tools that give you accurate data fast. Advanced POS systems give you real-time data on how your promotions are performing and the effect on your inventory.
Say you run a “buy one get one free” promotion store-wide, and you’d like to see what pieces sold the best for this promotion and how much revenue you earned compared to a typical day. If you have an advanced POS system, your software will automatically pull that data, so you don’t have to touch a calculator.
Making informed decisions about your promotions and inventory is an essential step to profitably managing your new boutique business.
The Missing Piece of the Puzzle for Your Boutique
What do all of these essential steps have in common? Many business owners don’t realize how central their POS system is until payments aren’t processing correctly, their inventory management starts slipping, or they realize they don’t have essential data about their sales performance.
It’s time to cross POS system research off your how to start a boutique business to-do list. We’ve collected the top questions you need to ask when it comes to POS system purchasing and the step-by-step process of the buying process in our Retail POS System Buyers' Guide. Use this guide to get started finding the exact POS system that meets your needs.