So you’ve decided to start your online boutique ha. Finally. Well congratulations.
Now seems like the perfect time to really break down how much does it cost to start an online boutique so you can budget accordingly.
The good this is, it probably costs less to start an online boutique than you might think, but there may be some costs you just haven’t considered yet.
In this fluff-free post I really break down those costs.
How Much Does it Cost to Start an Online Boutique?
Inventory or ingredients
How much you spend on inventory will depend on your inventory budget and how many products you will have on your online store.
When you have a smaller budget a great way to create a concept for your limited collection, is to position it as a capsule. In order for this to work you need to be very clear about your niche.
When calculating how much does it cost to start an online boutique, understandably this is the cost that most business owners factor in first as it’s often the most substantial.
Costs: Varied – keep your first wholesale order to under $1000.
Check out a blog post where I share how you can find hiqh quality boutique wholesalers.
You can build your own online boutique from scratch, but I don’t recommend it.
A purpose built platform like Shopify is the perfect option if you want a low-cost, DIY way to build your online boutique.
Costs: Shopify monthly fees are $29
They have a free 14 day trial and several free themes you can use.
With Shopify you can use a free theme or pay for a premium theme.
There are pros and cons for both. Obviously with the free option, it’s well free. With premium themes, you do pay but you get more functionality and more options.
Costs: Premium Shopify themes can run from $140-$210.
Email service provider
If you’re smart you’ll start collect emails for your business from day one. You will need a way to collect emails and a way to send (and segment emails).
Look for a service provider that it specific to ecommerce. Klaviyo is my prefered choice as they have lots of automations.
Costs: Klaviyo has a free option for beginners.
Just like with inventory your packaging costs depend on the size of your product, how fragile it is, and the weight of it.
Think of your packaging as your first brand experience with your customer. Use it as an opportunity to create a great first impression. Also think about how many elements you need.
Boxes, tissue, mailers, stickers, business cards, inserts, digital printer. When you working it out how much it costs to start an online boutique, it’s small costs like this with often get overlooked, but quickly add up.
Costs: Think about how you plan to package your products then price it out.
Check out some of my favourite packaging supplies.
Sturdy Packaging boxes – boxes can get beat up so don’t choose the cheapest option
Waterproof poly mailers – they have some really pretty options that will level up your brand appeal for very little cost.
Coloured tissue paper – always make the presentation feel more polished
Shipping label printer – at a certain point it will get to laborious to write shipping labels by hand,
Packing beads – don’t risk your product arriving broken, use liberal packing beads if you need them
A good logo costs more than $10. There I said it.
The good thing is, you don’t need a mega expensive logo to get started, get something simple (text based) works, and keep it moving.
Your logo can always get better with time. When it doubt keep it simple.
Costs: Between $0-50
With each purchase you’ll need to pay processing fees, you may have more than one. These are normally a minimal % of your purchase price. This will differ for every purchase.
If you plan or need to take your own pictures then you’ll need to invest in some lighting. At the very least you will need 2/3 soft focus lights and a backdrop.
Lights can range from cheap to crazy expensive. Don’t go for the cheapest option as you want your lights to last. Go for the mid range option.
I bought these Newer soft boxes in 2017 and they’re still going strong.
Costs: $70 – $150
You’d be amazed what you can achieve with a smartphone these days, especially if you have some lighting and some patience.
But if you want to go to the next level and get a dslr camera, if you plan to take pictures of yourself I encourage you to get a flip camera option and a timer.
Don’t forget to get a good tripod. It doesn’t need to be the top model, but don’t get the cheapest. You’ll be using this a lot so you want something sturdy.
How much you spend is really dependant on your budget, you can also get second hand equipment from Ebay.
Clothing steamer/jewelry stands/hangers/rails
When you think about how much it costs to start an online boutique, I’m willing to bet you didn’t consider these costs.
Think about it, you now have a lot of clothing, jewelry, packaging materials and other things around you and you need to be able to ship your products beautifully and effeciently.
Don’t be surprised to find you need extra storage and hanging space, and you’ll never regret owning a clothes steamer.
Costs: Between $30-150
Check out this great low cost option for a versatile mobile clothing steamer.
Plan to shoot models at home or shoot yourself? Then depending on what your set up is like you might need to buy some backdrops and stands. This is especially helpful if you want to create visual consistency.
Backdrops come in all shapes, sizes, colours and textures. Search around, as costs do vary.
Costs: $20 on up
Check out this great low cost photography backdrop option.
As you become better at photography you’ll have an easier job getting great shots the first time. Until then editing if your friend.
Lightroom is a great desktop and phone based app that will help you take your pictures from good to great. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but it’s worth it.
Costs: $10 per month
how much does it costs to start an online boutique: other variables
You’ll have other variable costs connected to starting your online boutique, I’ve listed a few of them below.
Any insurances – Depending on what you sell and how you vend, you may need business insurance
Advertising – If you want to grow your business you need to invest in advertising
Coaching – you’ll get further faster if you get expert help
Custom code – If you want something specific on your website you may need to get some custom code
Printing ink/costs – Depending on how you print, how much and where you print, you’ll need to consider these costs as they soon add up.