Don’t let the Debbie Downers discourage you; it’s an excellent time to start a boutique retail brand. Small businesses now have unprecedented access to technology that can help them connect with customers like never before.
And being the little fish in the pond isn’t actually bad news. Compared to larger, traditional brands, your boutique is much more agile and able to respond to competitive challenges. This makes it possible to quickly create a business and a brand that customers will love.
Eager to start growing your boutique brand? Here are five ways to do it.
Build Your Digital Presence
A retail website is critical to launching an online retail store. Along with a strong social media presence, it helps establish your boutique brand and let your customers discover you.
But a website is only useful when there are channels to drive interested customers to your site. With so much content existing online, it isn’t practical to believe that your website will get found on its own.
- Create a slick, user-friendly website that reflects your brand. Your website should list all the products you carry, enable online sales, and give any visitor a taste of what your brand is all about.
- Use social media (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, even TikTok) to showcase new or popular products, retail promotions, and even behind-the-scenes content that gives customers a more personal look at your boutique.
- Focus on SEO optimization and listings (think Google and Yelp) for your local area. This will drive traffic and help you get discovered by local shoppers.
- Encourage reviews and comments from customers to capitalize on your success. User-generated content is extremely powerful for driving word-of-mouth advertising.
- Place an email signup form on your site to grow your direct email marketing lists. Offer a discount just for signing up (10-15 percent is standard).
Invest in Scalable Retail Tech
Retail technology has come a long way in the last few years, delivering the same kinds of gee-whiz shopping experiences offered by larger retail brands. Many of these tools are free to try and can grow with you, so as your sales volume and shopping activity increase, your retail solutions can seamlessly support this growth.
Shoppers want speed and convenience at every point in their shopping experience. If your business is still using a traditional cash register, for example, it’s likely causing a slower, less enjoyable checkout process that is hurting your business. Upgrading to new mobile solutions is an easy, efficient way to remedy this problem.
- Transform your checkout and inventory processes by upgrading from your cash register or older point-of-sale (POS) solution to a modern POS solution that offers speed of service, multiple payment options, and inventory management features to take the friction out of the checkout experience.
- Invest in an online retail platform to power your online store. This online platform should be integrated with your POS to simplify management of your boutique business. Some platforms, including Shopify, even integrate with your social media to power social selling.
- Integrate your retail software with apps to improve your customer loyalty program and email marketing capabilities. This technology will help you build stronger relationships with your customers, even on a fixed business budget.
Make Great Product and Inventory Info a Priority
High-quality product info is a competitive advantage! You want to deliver a great experience for your customers both in-store and online, and product and inventory information is a critical part of the experience. A great product listing makes a huge difference to your business, and correct inventory reduces those “I am SOOO sorry” customer service moments.
- To save time, many vendors will provide product info lists that you can import into your POS. Be sure to ask vendors ahead of time; it could save your team hours and hours.
- Don’t fall down the slippery slope of adjusting inventory! Ensure that your team manages inventory using purchase orders with correct product costs. Don’t receive inventory without them! This will help ensure your inventory is correct and allow you to accurately judge your sales margins, profits, and which products and categories are most successful.
- Create unique product titles, descriptions, and imagery for your product listings. For many customers, your online site will be their first introduction to your brand. You want the experience to be just like the tone you would get in-store with a knowledgeable salesperson
Create Consistent Messaging and Content That Is Replicated Across Every Channel
Seventy-three percent of shoppers visit more than one channel on the way to making a purchase. Because of this fluid movement across channels, consistency in your messaging is crucial. This means not only social content but product content as well.
- Educate all of your teams on the products you offer so that when customers contact you directly, they get the same experience and expertise, regardless of channel.
- Verify that online listings, including prices, product information, and brand voice, are consistent with in-store messaging as well as marketing channels such as social media and email.
Build Loyalty with Social Media, Branded Content, Email Marketing, and In-Store Events
The success of your boutique will depend on your ability to drive repeat customers who become evangelists for your brand. For a small but hungry retailer, these long-lasting connections are important, and there are many options available beyond traditional loyalty programs.
- Maintain an active presence on social media to cultivate an organic channel for engagement.
- Use email marketing to drive promotions and keep your audience plugged in to your company’s latest news.
- Take advantage of in-store events and in-store pickup to drive in-store traffic and strengthen your brick-and-mortar store as a retail destination.
Starting a boutique business takes passion and perseverance. But new retail technology makes it easier than ever before to offer a customer experience that rivals or even beats what more established brands can offer.
These retail solutions won’t do the work of brand-building for you, but they’ll give you everything you need to build that success on your own.