How to start an online boutique

According to Statista, Global retail e-commerce sales would be $4.5 trillion by 2021. So, this could be the right time to get your boutique online use. I have a written a complete and easy guide to help you create an online store on your own. This post will help you know how to start an online boutique in just 3 simple steps and the legal documentation you might need to have. 

Starting an online boutique is not as complex as you think. You can make an online boutique in few minutes. Legal documents needed for online boutiques are similar to one needed in brick and mortar.

What are the different ways of starting an online boutique?

​There are two different ways for starting an online store.

  • Self-hosted online boutique- This means you will be provided with e-commerce software, but you need to get your hosting. For instance, adding the WooCommerce plugin to your website and getting hosting from another platform.  Take a look at this guide for setting up an online store using WooCommerce
  • Hosted online boutique- This just means the company will be providing yours with the complete system including the e-commerce software and hosting server. For instance, Shopify is a perfect e-commerce solution for starting your online store.

Bottom line- Hosted online boutique is a better choice than the self-hosted store. This is because of the regular updates and list of regular (and essential) features offered by the hosted online store. Plus you don’t have to go different places for getting a domain, a hosting, setting-up your website and installing your online-store-software.

Shopify vs. WooCommerce- which is better and why?

​​Which is the best platform for starting an online store?

Although, there are over 20 different platforms for starting a professional store, here are 3 of the best platforms offering complete E-commerce solution. 

  • ​Shopify is an e-commerce platform offering the best pricing to get started with an online store. Company designers have worked well in the UX and simplicity for providing a clean design. Since 2016 Shopify has become the most trending e-commerce platform and continue to rank one in the trends.  

  • ​BigCommerce- BigCommerce offers some useful features. Its plan costs more than Shopify, but it charges 0% transaction fee. Nevertheless, the interface design is less clean than Shopify.

  • ​Volusion- It is not as popular as Shopify or as comprehensive as BigCommerce, but it does provide a simple system for working online. But if you compare if ​to shopify than it is a lot less customizable.

Our winner- Shopify. Take a look at the site made using Shopify-

​How much does it cost to start an online boutique/store?

​Here are the basic costs associated with building a boutique using Shopify–

  • Purchasing a domain - $10-$14 per year ​(based on the TLD you choose)
  • Subscribing to a Shopify plan – from $29 to $299 per month (based on ​the plan you choose).

Other than these, you will have to pay a fixed percentage of the payments made by credit cards and external payment gateways. The percentage varies depending on your chosen plan.

However, there is a 14-day free trial to help you try out the Shopify features. We suggest you get started with the trial and upgrade to a premium plan later on.

                            How to Start an online Store in 3 simple steps?

Image showing a laptop and blurred clothing shop
Image showing an online store snapshot on the screen

Step-0 Choose a ​catchy name for your boutique

When you are finding a name for your fashion boutique make sure it is-

Brandable and Short- A good store name will help you develop your brand (which is essential if you are looking for a long term business). A short domain name helps you rank better in the search engines. You boutique name should be unique and remarkable, so that people can get back to your store easily.

Relevant but specific- If you are opening a car website and your domain name is something like, it might not be the best choice. Now, if you go for it would be more specific and absolutely relevant, your audience would be able to know about your site. However, it you have to choose from relevancy and brand, go for brand.

Now that you know a good store name for your business, its time to get started with the 3-step online boutique building.​ CLICK ON THE ICONS BELOW FOR STEP-1,2 AND 3. 

Step-1 Signing up to shopify

Let’s create a store named Scooby-do Store. Our first step is to sign up

Shopify makes it very easy to sign up and build an online boutique. You just need to visit their website and click the “Get Started” button.

Provide your email address, a password, and your desired store name. Once you have provided the necessary information, click “Create your store.” signup page

The next page will ask you whether you are already selling and your current revenue numbers. Choose the appropriate answers and click “Next.” Provide your name, address, phone number, etc. on the following page.

Lastly, click “Enter my store” to finish the registration process. This will take you to your Shopify dashboard.

Shopify website dashboard

You can manage your products, customers, orders, analytics, discounts, apps, and various store settings from the dashboard.

Our next task is to add products to the store.

Adding Products and Details

You will find an “Add product” product button on your dashboard. Alternatively, you can go to the Products menu and click “Add Product.” Click the button, and you will be taken to a page like the following – page for adding new products

First of all, there are two dedicated sections to provide the product title and description. Below, you can upload the product images. You can drag-and-drop the images to rearrange their position.

Next, you will find options to set the price, define the SKU, and configure the shipping options for this product. You can create different varieties of the product from the “Variants” section.

“Search Engine Listing Preview” enables you to edit the title, meta description, and URL to help you get better ranking on the search engine result pages. dashboard for products

The right sidebar enables you to schedule the product to be published at a future date, define the product type, and choose the vendor.

There is another option to add the product to a collection so that the customers can easily find relevant products. You can create new collections from the Products > Collections page.

Once you have provided the necessary information, click “Save” to add the product to your ecommerce website. Repeat the same process to add more products you want to sell online. You can manage your products from the Products > All Products page.

Step 2: Setting-up Your Shopify Store

Now that you know how to create and manage products in your Shopify store, it’s time to configure the basic settings of your ecommerce website.

Choosing a Theme for Your Shopify Store

First of all, you need to select a theme. Go to Online Store > Themes to change the default theme. Shopify offers both free and premium themes. You can check out the available styles for the free themes and use any of these in your store. website theme store

On the other hand, premium Shopify themes offer professional designs with better code quality, premium support, and lots of additional features. There is a dedicated feature to let you try any premium theme in your store. Make sure you are checking out the user reviews before choosing a premium theme.

Getting a Domain Name

You will need a domain name for your ecommerce website to sell online. Shopify offers two ways to get the domain –

  • You can purchase the domain from Shopify or
  • Purchase the domain from Namecheap (or any other domain registrar) and connect it to your store.

To purchase the domain from Shopify, go to Online Store > Domains, and click the “Buy new domain” button. In the next page, type your desired domain name. Shopify will show the available names as you type. Click the “Buy” button, and it will take you to the checkout page. buy domain page

If you already have a domain purchased from elsewhere, here’s how to connect an existing domain to your Shopify store.

Adding Posts/Pages

Shopify enables you to add blog posts or pages to your ecommerce website. Go to Online Store > Blog posts to create a new post. You can provide the title, description, set a featured image, add an excerpt, and edit the meta information for SEO purpose.

To add a new page, go to Online Store > Pages, and click “Add page.” You will find separate fields to provide the title, description, choose a template, schedule the page, and edit the meta content for your page.

Create or Edit menu

Shopify will automatically create the basic menus for your store. You can manage these menus or create a new menu from the Online Store > Navigation page.

Step 3: Shopify Store Setup: Final settings

So far, we have created the store, added some products, and taken care of the basic settings. Now you are ready to handle the final settings and open your ecommerce website to the public. Tap the “Settings” icon located at the bottom-left corner of your dashboard to access the settings options.

Managing the Payment Gateway page for payment options

Shopify supports various payment gateways including credit cards, PayPal, Amazon Pay, QuickPay, bank deposit, cash on delivery, and so on. You can configure the payment gateways from the “Payment” section from the settings page.

When choosing a payment gateway, make sure you are taking note of the associated charges according to your plan.

Setting Up the Tax and Shipping Options

The Settings page offers dedicated sections to help you set up the taxes and shipping options for your online boutique.

In the Taxes page, you can ensure that the taxes are included in the price, enable taxes on shipping rate, and use the EU digital goods VAT tax rates. shipping options for online boutique shop

​In Shipping, you can edit the shipper address, add shipping zones with different shipping costs for each zone, define the size and weight of your packages, enable third-party shipping, and manage the dropshipping and fulfillment services.

Congratulations! your online store is live now. But before you start selling online, you might need some legal documentation for your store.                                      

​Legal documentation-

Setting a boutique online is similar to setting an offline boutique. You need to decide a structure for your online shop, i.e., whether it is LLC or LLP.

Employer identification number

Once you have selected a structure, you would need to get an EIN (employer identification number) this is your registered id for taxation purpose. However, if you have an LLC company with you as a sole proprietor or don’t have any employee, an EIN would not be necessary, and your social security number could do taxation.

If you are not sure whether or not you need an EIN, read this post.

Sellers permit

Seller permit or resale license or wholesale permit is required for any business selling merchandise to multiple states. In some states, a sales tax ID will be necessary too for paying quarterly sales tax. You state business department will help you know all the requirements.

Fictitious business name via local newspaper

If you are using a name different than the owner’s name or different from the legal name used, then it is said to be a DBA- doing business as. In that case, you need to file a fictitious business name.

Inventory vs. drop shipping

If you select inventory you need to maintain the stock and storage area, if you choose drop shipping (via shopify), the shipment process would be a whole lot easier.

Unless you create your clothes, you don’t require putting up an inventory for your boutique clothing. Shopify offers drop shipping using Obrelo services. This means you don’t need to have a stock of boutique items and you can directly ship the items from your seller or stock provider.

Nevertheless, if you decide to store clothing and accessories, adding insurance to it would be the right choice. 

What are the other free alternatives for starting a Fashion boutique?

The only reason I suggest users from not using a free alternative is the low amount of commission it offers. Unlike a brick and mortar, these free platforms provide you lesser flexibility. Instead of having all of your income, it gives you a commission for every sale. For instance, Zindigo is a free platform for opening an online store but will provide 40% commission on every sale through your shop. Similarly, Personal shopper offers 5% and Fibie & Clo 15% only. Here are some of the​ best free alternatives to Shopif​y.

Final Words

While it used to be a lot more difficult to sell online, user-friendly platforms like Shopify has made it a lot easier to create online store for anyone. I hope this step-by-step tutorial on how to start an online store has provided you with clear directions to get started with Shopify.

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I’m a WordPress and Shopify expert and have been helping people setting-up their sites for last 2 years. If you have any problem related to your Online store or website, or stuck with any site-making step; feel free to contact me.