Start an online boutique | how to use WordPress to launch your store

Start an online boutique: How to use WordPress to launch your store

If you’re looking to start an online boutique, one of the best ways to do it is by using WordPress.

WordPress is a popular content management system (CMS) that can be used to create a beautiful website or blog.

While WordPress is traditionally known for its blogging capabilities, it can also be used to create an online store.

In this article, we’ll show you how to use WordPress to start an online boutique.

But first, let’s talk about what an online boutique is, what the outlook is for the industry, and walk you through a few other preparatory steps.

What is an online boutique?

Before we discuss what an online boutique is, it may be helpful to define what a traditional boutique is first.

A boutique is a small store with a specialized focus. For example, you may have a bridal boutique or a baby boutique. These stores often carry items you can’t find in larger department stores.

An online boutique is simply an extension of this concept. It allows you to reach a larger audience with your products and services over the internet.

Such stores sell a wide variety of items. This can include apparel, accessories, beauty products, and home decor. But really, it could sell any sort of specialty item.

Online boutiques are different from big-box retailers, standard clothing stores, and even other eCommerce sites because they have a more personal touch.

They focus on selling a limited selection of items that are hand-picked by the owner or a team of buyers.

This allows them to have more control over the quality of products they sell and develop a specific style or look.

Is it necessary to have an offline store to start an online boutique?

No, it’s not necessary to have an offline store to start an online boutique. In fact, many online boutiques never open a physical location.

An online boutique simply gives you the ability to reach a larger audience with your products and services.

It also allows you to operate your business from anywhere in the world.

Sujay Pawar

Hello! My name is Sujay and I’m CEO of Astra.

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The current online boutique outlook

The current outlook for online boutiques is positive. In fact, the global market for online retail is at $5.7 trillion as of 2022 and is projected to grow 56% in the coming years, reaching $8.1 trillion by 2026.

Statista chart showing retail eCommerce growth

This growth is being driven by a number of factors, including:

  • The increasing popularity of eCommerce
  • The increasing availability of mobile devices and high-speed internet
  • The increasing number of people who are comfortable shopping online

With eCommerce retail booming, there’s ample room for the budding boutique to get a foothold in this space.

Selecting a niche for your boutique

One of the most important steps to starting an online boutique is selecting a niche. This will help you determine what products you’ll sell and who your target market is.

Some common niches for boutiques include:

  • Apparel: You can focus on selling a specific type of clothing, such as plus-size fashion, vintage clothes, or swimwear.
  • Accessories: Sell a specific type of accessory, such as handbags, jewelry, or belts — or opt to take a generalist approach.
  • Beauty: Offer a specific category of beauty product, like makeup, skincare, or haircare.
  • Home decor: Focus on one type of home decor for your boutique, such as art, furniture, or kitchenware.
  • Baby: You could start a baby clothing store, a baby accessory shop, toy shop, or even a baby furniture store.
  • Wedding: Your boutique could offer dresses, favors, or invitations.

To select the right niche for your boutique, consider your interests, experience, and skills.

You should also think about what type of product you want to sell and who your target market is. Also, consider what market is underserved or where there’s room for improvement.

When all else fails, consider what products or services you’re passionate about.

For example, if you love fashion and you live in a small town with limited shopping options, starting an online fashion boutique and marketing it locally could be a great way to serve your community.

Creating a name and logo for your boutique

After you’ve selected a niche, it’s time to start thinking about your name and logo. These are two important elements of your brand identity.

Your boutique’s name should be reflective of the products you sell and the overall tone of your brand.

Your logo should be simple, memorable, and easy to read. It should also be reflective of your brand identity.

Here are a few quick tips for creating a name and logo for your boutique:

  • Brainstorm a list of potential names with friends or family.
  • Use a thesaurus or online dictionary to help you come up with ideas.
  • Try to avoid names that are too similar to other businesses in your industry.
  • Check to see if the domain name for your potential names is available.

There’s more to the process, of course, but these general guidelines can help you come up with ideas that can serve you well.

Find a supplier for your products

Next, it’s time to start thinking about where you’ll get the products for your store.

There are a few different options when it comes to finding a supplier:

  • Manufacture the products yourself: This is an option if you have the time, resources, and skills to do so.
  • Dropship the products: Dropshipping is a type of eCommerce fulfillment in which the store owner doesn’t keep products in stock. Instead, when a customer orders a product, the store owner contacts the supplier, who then ships the product directly to the customer.
  • Work with a wholesaler: A wholesaler is a company that sells products in bulk at a discounted price. The store owner then sells the products to customers at a higher price, making a profit in the process.
  • Find a combination of these options: You might, for example, manufacture some products, dropship others, and work with a wholesaler for the rest.
  • Source the products from a marketplace like Alibaba or Etsy: These platforms connect buyers and sellers from all over the world.

The option you choose will likely depend on a number of factors, including your budget, your production skills, and your relationships with wholesalers or other suppliers.

For example, if you’re starting a boutique that sells handcrafted jewelry, you might want to consider manufacturing the products yourself. This would give you complete control over the quality and the branding.

On the other hand, if you’re starting a plus-size fashion boutique, you might want to consider partnering with a wholesaler or drop shipping the products. This would give you more flexibility in terms of inventory and pricing.

The best option for you will depend on your budget, your skills, and your preferences.

How to start an online boutique website

So, you’ve selected a niche, created a name and logo, and found a supplier. Now it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to build your online boutique website.

One of the best platforms for building an eCommerce website is WordPress.

It’s easy to use, even if you’re not technical. And there are a lot of plugins and themes available to help you create a professional-looking website.

What follows is our in-depth guide to setting up an online boutique website with WordPress.

We take you from setting up a domain name all the way through marketing your site.

Let’s get started!

1. Secure hosting and a domain name

The first step in building any WordPress website is to set up hosting and a domain name.

Hosting is essentially a rental agreement for server space on the internet. This is where your website’s files and databases will be stored.

Your domain name is your website’s address on the internet. It’s what people will type into their browser to find your site.

You can usually purchase hosting and a domain name from the same company.

We recommend using SiteGround.

Siteground

They’re one of the largest and most popular hosting companies in the world, and they offer a great deal for WordPress users:

  • $2.99 per month for hosting + a free domain name
  • One-click WordPress installation
  • 24/7 support
  • A 30-day money back guarantee

To get started, head over to SiteGround and click on the View Plans button.

2. Install WordPress

Once you have your hosting and domain set up, it’s time to install WordPress.

SiteGround makes this easy with their one-click WordPress installer. Just log into your hosting account, click on the WordPress icon, and follow the instructions.

If you’re not using SiteGround, don’t worry. Most other hosting providers offer a one-click installation option.

Or, you could always install WordPress manually on your web server. Though that is out of the scope of this article.

3. Select a theme

Your next step is to select a WordPress theme that best suits your boutique. There are thousands of themes available, some of which are available for free.

We recommend using Astra as your WordPress theme of choice.

This theme offers a fast and lightweight design that is perfect for eCommerce sites. It also integrates with a number of popular WordPress plugins, including WooCommerce (which we’ll talk more about later).

With Astra installed, you may also wish to select from our Starter Templates. These are full site designs ready to import and use with a single click.

The Fashion Designer Starter Template makes for an excellent choice for online boutiques. It offers ample opportunities to showcase your products in an attractive way, as well as a built-in blog for content marketing purposes.

Fashion Designer Starter Template

To get started with this Starter Template, simply install the Astra theme as you would any other WordPress theme by going to Appearance > Themes in your WordPress admin panel.

Click the Add New button, and search for Astra.

Then click on the Install button and Activate.

If you’ve purchased the premium version of Astra, you’ll still need to install the free version of the theme, as usual, then install and activate the Astra Pro Plugin.

Next, you’ll need to install the Starter Templates plugin.

To do this, go to Plugins > Add New in your WordPress admin panel.

Search for Starter Templates, and install and activate it as usual.

Install Starter Templates

Then you can select the Fashion Designer template from the list of available options.

It’s free, so you won’t need to upgrade to the Essential Bundle or Growth Bundle to gain access to it (though you may still wish to, as these bundles include additional plugins and features).

With your theme installed, it’s time to set it up.

If using Astra with a Starter Template, you can do this by going to Appearance > Customize and making whatever changes to the template you’d like.

Customize Starter Template appearance

You have full control over global colors, styles, fonts, and everything you see on the page.

If you plan on using a page builder like Elementor, you can make changes to any page by clicking Edit with Elementor.

4. Add content and pages

Now that your WordPress website is up and running, it’s time to start adding content. The easiest way to do this is by creating pages.

To create a new page, go to Pages > Add New page in your WordPress admin panel.

adding a new page

From here, you can give your page a title, add content, insert media, and more.

When you’re finished, click on the Publish button to make your page live.

Some pages you’ll want for your online boutique include:

  • Homepage: This is where visitors will land when they first come to your site. You can use any page builder to create a beautiful and eye-catching homepage that showcases your products front and center.
  • Shop: This is where you’ll list all of your products for sale, and will often be automatically generated if using WooCommerce.
  • About: Use this page to tell visitors more about your boutique, your story, and what you stand for.
  • Contact: This page should include your contact information as well as a contact form so that visitors can get in touch.
  • Blog: A blog is a great way to drive traffic to your online store and can be used to share fashion tips, product reviews, and more.
  • Terms of service, returns, shipping policies: These are all important pages that you’ll want to create to let visitors know what to expect when shopping with you.

Creating these pages is straightforward with WordPress, and you can use any page builder to create beautiful and eye-catching pages that accurately reflect your brand.

5. Install WooCommerce

Since you plan on selling products through your online boutique, you’ll need to install the WooCommerce plugin.

WooCommerce is a free plugin that turns any WordPress website into a fully functioning online store. Once installed, you can add products, set up shipping and taxes, take payments, and anything you like.

To install WooCommerce, go to Plugins > Add New in your WordPress admin panel.

Search for WooCommerce, and install and activate it.

Install WooCommerce

You’ll be taken through a standard setup guide that covers the basics of setting up your store, which is self-explanatory.

However, we will highlight a few components of this setup process now.

For much more detail, check out our step by step beginner’s tutorial on setting up WooCommerce.

6. Set up payments

Once WooCommerce is installed, you’ll need to set up payments so that you can start taking orders.

WooCommerce supports a number of different payment methods, including credit cards, PayPal, and bank transfers.

To set up payments, go to WooCommerce > Settings in your WordPress admin panel and click on the Payments tab.

Setting up WooCommerce payments

From here, you can select the payment processors you want to enable as well as configure any additional settings.

7. Set up shipping

You also need to set up shipping for your online boutique.

This will determine how much you charge for shipping, where you ship to, and any other important details.

To set up shipping, go to WooCommerce > Settings in your WordPress admin panel and click on the Shipping tab.

adding shipping details to WooCommerce

From here, you can add shipping zones and the rates you’d like to establish for each.

Be sure to do some research about the cost to ship your product type to each shipping zone before committing to a shipping price.

Otherwise, you could end up losing money!

8. Install CartFlows

WooCommerce is essential for creating your online boutique — hopefully, that much is clear by now.

While it does a wonderful job of providing everything you need to launch a store, list products, and accept payments, there are improvements that can be made to the default user experience.

One of the best ways to improve your WooCommerce store is to use CartFlows.

CartFlows is a plugin that allows you to create custom sales funnels and checkout experiences for your store.

CartFlows

Some of the things you can do with CartFlows include:

  • Offer free shipping thresholds
  • Create one-click upsells and cross-sells
  • Enable order bump offers
  • Use mini-cart popups

All of these things can help increase your average order value, which is essential for any successful online store.

It’s especially helpful for smaller boutique stores that can especially benefit from an increased average order value.

To install CartFlows, go to Plugins > Add New in your WordPress admin panel.

Search for CartFlows, click Install, and then Activate.

Follow along with the guided setup process.

Follow the guided CartFlows setup process

Once completed, go to CartFlows > Flows > Add New.

From here, you can select a template for your “Flow” or sales funnel and adjust each page or step of the checkout process until you’re completely satisfied.

When done, click Import Flow.

Learn more about creating sales funnels on the CartFlows website.

Next, you’ll be taken to a page that displays each step of the Flow. It should include something like a landing page, checkout page, and thank you page.

Click Edit with… next to each step or page to work on the design and content contained within each with your page builder of choice.

Creating a flow in CartFlows

With the Pro version of Cartflows, you can add more options to your pages, including coupons, order bumps, and special form fields.

Once live, your Flow can significantly improve sales and customer satisfaction for your boutique.

9. Install Variation Swatches

If you’re planning on selling products that come in different colors, sizes, or styles, you need to make sure your customers can see all available options before they reach the checkout page.

The best way to do this is with the Variation Swatches plugin.

This plugin allows you to create beautiful swatches for each product variation, which makes it easier for customers to choose the right option.

Variation Swatches

This is even more important for boutique websites. Customers are more likely to be looking for specific items and will need to see all available options before they make their purchase.

To install Variation Swatches, go to Plugins > Add New in your WordPress admin panel.

Search for Variation Swatches.

Click Install, then Activate.

Now, you’ll need to go to Products > Attributes and add attributes that you can assign as variations to your products.

If you sell clothes, possible attributes would be size, fabric, or color.

Then you’d need to set the swatches for each attribute, as in the individual options a customer could pick.

Once saved, these swatches will appear on each applicable product page.

Specifically, those which you’ve indicated are variable products and for which you’ve selected these specific attributes to display.

Adding variations to a variable product

10. Add products and descriptions

Once WooCommerce is up and running and you have all of your secondary plugins installed and set up, you can start adding products.

To do this, go to Products > Add New.

From here, you can add a product title, description, price, and images for your first product.

You’ll be prompted to input a short description as well as other particulars about your item.

The short description appears on the product listing page, while the long description appears when a customer clicks on an individual product to learn more.

short product description in WooCommerce

For the long description, be sure to include as many details as possible. You want to give potential customers all of the information they need to make a purchase.

This is especially important for clothing boutiques since customers can’t try things on before they buy.

Be sure to include things like sizing information, fabric content, and any other details that may be important. The more information you can give, the better.

After filling out all of the product information, you can add images.

Again, be sure to add as many high-quality images as possible. People like to see what they’re buying, and multiple angles can be helpful.

Finally, hit Publish when you’re ready to make your product live on your site.

Repeat this process for each product you want to add to your boutique.

12. Market your online boutique

Now that your site is live and has products to sell, you can start promoting and driving traffic to it.

There are a number of ways to do this, and the best approach will likely be a combination of several different marketing channels.

Some of the ways you can market your boutique include:

  • Social media: Create social media accounts for your store and post regularly. Use hashtags, run ads, and collaborate with influencers. The key here is to create an organic social presence.
  • SEO: Optimize your site for search engines so people can find it when searching for products like the ones you sell.
  • Email marketing: Start collecting email addresses from visitors and send out regular newsletters. Offer exclusive deals and coupon codes to encourage people to buy from your store.
  • Paid advertising: Run ads on social media and search engines to drive traffic to your site.
  • Create engaging content: In addition to promoting your site, you should also create engaging content that will draw people to it. This could include a blog, video content, or even just great product descriptions.
  • Collaborations: Work with other businesses and influencers in your niche to promote your products. For example, you could do a giveaway with another boutique owner or send products to an influencer to review.
  • Use influencer marketing: Related to the above, you can use influencer marketing to reach a new audience. Find influencers in your niche with a large following and offer to send them products in exchange for a review or shoutout.
  • Sell at local boutiques: If you sell handmade goods, local (and often seasonal) craft boutiques and fairs offer a great opportunity to connect with your community in person and promote your online business. Research whether there are any local events or pop-ups you could participate in.

There are endless possibilities when it comes to marketing your online boutique.

The important thing is to start somewhere and be consistent. The more effort you put into promoting your store, the more likely you are to see results.

Use WordPress to start an online boutique now!

If you’re ready to start your own online boutique, WordPress is the perfect platform to use. It’s easy to set up and use, even if you’re not tech-savvy.

Plus, there are plenty of themes and plugins available to help you create the perfect online store. With the power duo of Astra and Starter Templates on your side, your boutique will look fantastic straight away.

And with essential tools like CartFlows and Variation Swatches, you can make the most of your WooCommerce experience.

So what are you waiting for? Use WordPress to start your boutique now and enjoy bringing in your first customers. Be sure to check out our online boutique checklist PDF to have on hand as you progress through this tutorial.

—-

Online Boutique Checklist

Keep this resource on hand as you start your own boutique.

Preparation for starting a boutique

  • Choose your niche
  • Find your target market
  • Come up with a brand name and logo
  • Find a supplier for your products

Setting up your website

  • Pick a domain name and web hosting
  • Install WordPress
  • Select a WordPress theme
  • Create website content
  • Install the WooCommerce plugin
  • Customize your store’s design
  • Set up payment gateway(s)
  • Configure shipping and delivery options
  • Install CartFlows
  • Install Variant Swatches
  • Add products to your store
  • Launch your store

Market your online boutique

  • Create organic social media accounts
  • Optimize for SEO
  • Start an email marketing campaign:
  • Invest in paid advertising
  • Collaborate with other business owners and influencers
  • Consider selling items at local boutiques and fairs

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