Online Selling, Technology
It’s hard to deny that the classic brick-and-mortar boutique has been strongly impacted by click-and-mortar. Long gone are the days of ‘if you build it they will come’. Although having working knowledge of SEO, keywords, meta-tags is immensely helpful, you will encounter many ways to approach starting your online boutique. Let’s talk about a few key items to keep in mind with your online store:
As a boutique owner, you already have a vision in mind—a brand that you want to tell a story about. Product sourcing is the easy part for you. You already understand your merchandise mix, the story behind the brands you carry, and the lines and unique pieces your customers look to you for. Aesthetics are the easy part, but the technical part can seem daunting. Let’s break down some key items to help build the foundation of your click-and-mortar online boutique!
Online Boutique, Where to Start?
The decision has been made to take your boutique concept online. Now what?
Where to start selling? There are ways to approach starting your eCommerce business. Do you have an interest in social selling? In other words, could you use your social media to drive your voice and brand? The concept is to convert ‘likes’ into sales by using a customizable domain that integrates with a social media page. Look into using Selz, a web based platform for eCommerce, and integrate it with Facebook. Or is an online marketplace more of what you have in mind? The top marketplaces can seem intimidating, so research how they will fit your brand. You can also look to successful marketplaces that can better fit your unique selling story. Other boutique owners have found success with Poshmark or Zazzle
If the online marketplace is not in your direction, look to the best eCommerce builders to assist you in choosing the right eCommerce builder to get your store up and running in no time. From choosing your platform to building your brand, having the right eCommerce builder for your vision is key. Understanding the steps to start your online business is an essential part of your success.
Knowing the differences, balancing the pros & cons, and understanding your online selling focus will help you determine what strategic step to take next.
Now that you have determined your platform, have your merchandise, and understand your brand’s point of view — how do you convey the message? Photography is crucial to creating the lifestyle of your brand. There are three options for photography:
Professional Images: Take the responsibility off your plate and have a professional photographer take your images. They will need to understand the brand, the concept and focus of the image. Do you want videography or multiple images of the product?
DIY Product Images: Once you understand the nuances of photography you can enjoy the flexibility of being your own photographer. You can get hands-on, and take advantage of updating, changing and altering your images as needed.
Vendor Provided Images: These can be the most cost-effective in both time and money, but the ability to brand your website is a bit more difficult. You will be using the images of the manufacturer telling their story. This could result in your boutique to not have the consistency of being cohesive.
It’s important to understand the impact of photography because it is an anchor to your site’s success by building your brand story through imagery.
When you think about mobile shopping vs desktop shopping, think of it as an extension of both. 85% of online shoppers start a purchase on one device and complete it on another device. Having a mobile responsive site is essential today with the exponential increase in usage of smartphones and tablets. In order to thrive, being mobile-friendly is key.
When developing your brand concept, keep a few items in mind:
Keep It Clean: Make it easy to navigate your website and keep it free of clutter to ensure a better customer experience.
Tell a Story: This can be accomplished with your brand’s photos, content, and placement on the site.
Customer Service: With 30% of all online purchases resulting in returns, give your customers the best experience they can have to reduce the return rates. From appropriate descriptions to appropriately detailed FAQ’s, you can help in the reduction of returns.
Abandoned Shopping Carts: Have a system in place to track and follow up on abandoned shopping carts.