So, you’re considering launching your own online lingerie store.
Perhaps you already have a brick-and-mortar one, and you’re thinking of expanding into the online market. Maybe you’re the creative type with a debut collection to launch, and selling on the internet seems like the best way to go. Or, it may just be that you’re looking to start your first business venture and have decided that reselling lingerie is the way to go.
Whatever your reasons for starting an online lingerie boutique, the process of actually getting it live is much the same.
From building your website to figuring out how you’ll actually get people to visit it, here’s a 5-step guide to getting your new lingerie business off the ground.
1. Research your competitors
Before you even think about what your own website will look like or how it will function, take a look at how your competitors have done it. Note down what you like and don’t like about each. Are products or offers advertised in a way that particularly catches your eye? Have the products been photographed on models? And so on.
Note that not every lingerie boutique on the web is your competitor. Look for those with a similar price range and product style to what you intend to sell – from the colours to the layout, a website selling luxury lingerie tends to look quite different to one selling the cheap stuff!
Then think about how you can ‘one-up’ your closest competitors. Whether it’s lower pricing, a wider size or product range, or something else, give people a reason to choose your boutique instead.
2. Create your website
The fun bit! Think of it as the virtual version of picking out the wallpaper and furniture for a physical lingerie boutique. Just like that real boutique though, appearances are important – a poorly-designed website can make potential customers take one look at leave, before they’ve even browsed the lingerie you’ve got on offer.
If you’re working with a web designer, be sure to check their portfolio and ideally choose one who’s worked in this sector (or at least the women’s fashion and beauty industry) before. If you’re on a very tight budget, there are some excellent DIY platforms that will allow you to create a professional-looking website with little-to-no design knowledge required on your part. Check out EKM and Shopify for starters.
Remember that you’ll also need to buy a domain name. Oh, and to fill your new website with content of course. On the internet, no one can touch or try on your products, so you want to make sure you’ve got lots of clear photographs, ideally including close-ups of the details (or a great zoom function).
I’d also recommend hiring a specialist lingerie or fashion copywriter who can describe your products in a way that really sells them to the customer – and ensures your site will be free from embarrassing typos or grammar mistakes!
3. Prepare your policies
Just like a brick-and-mortar boutique, an online one needs a clear set of returns policies available to customers. Be sure that you know the laws in your area – in the UK, for example, you must give customers at least 14 days from receiving their order to decide if they want to keep it, and yes this still applies to intimates items like briefs and to sale items.
4. Work out a marketing plan
In the real world, a lot of customer footfall for a lingerie boutique simply comes from people walking by and deciding to go in. On the internet, you need to much more actively promote your boutique, or no one will even know it exists.
Begin by understanding who your target audience is. Depending on their age and interests, they will be hanging out in different places online – you don’t want to be wasting advertising budget on Pinterest if your target customer is more of a Facebook woman. Knowing which magazines or blogs they read too will give you an initial target list for your PR or advertising efforts.
You’ll also need to learn about this thing called SEO. A good SEO strategy will help your site to appear more prominently in online searches for the lingerie products you’re selling, leading to more ‘free’ customers (ones you didn’t pay to advertise to directly).
5. Launch with a bang!
Your website’s ready, your inventory’s arrived and you’re all set to take your first orders. Don’t just put your shop live and hope for the best – plan ahead and make sure launch day is a roaring success by organising a special event. A limited-time introductory discount for example, or a free gift with purchase for the first 25 customers.
Coming back to the marketing plan, you should get your social media pages up and running before the website goes live. By launch day, you want to already have built up an audience and a mailing list, so that when your online lingerie boutique is open for business, you actually have people there to announce the good news to.
Finally, remember that first impressions count. Before you press that big red button to go live, be sure you’ve checked – and triple checked – that everything from your search function to your checkout is working smoothly. Satisfied customers make for repeat customers, after all.
Obviously, this is a very simplified guide to starting your own lingerie boutique online. The best advice that I can offer is to hire a business consultant who knows the lingerie industry, who can provide advice specific to your business goals and plan.
Even if you’re a lingerie industry veteran yourself, it’s still worth considering hiring experts in the areas that you don’t know so much about, such as PR or online advertising. It’s okay to admit that you can’t do everything on your own!
Launching an online lingerie boutique is hard work, just like any other business, but it can be a whole lot of fun too. Who doesn’t want to sell gorgeous bras for a living? We hope you’ve found this guide useful in your planning process, and if you’re interested in stocking Parfait lingerie you can fill in our short reseller form here.
Have any more questions about creating a lingerie e-shop? Drop them in the comments section below!