How To Start An Online Cupcake Business

Cupcake is a niche market in the baking industry and the statistics says that the industry turnover is about $1.6 billion annually in the United States of America only.

The most inspiring and encouraging factor to get in the Cupcake business is that you can start on a small scale from the comfort of your kitchen.

The business is so lucrative that even the Shark Tanks are investing in them !

If you are contemplating on How to start a cupcake business online, Here are the points that you must keep in mind :

#1 Plan Your Business Model

There’s no need to have a retail outlet if you have decided for opening a cupcake business online.

However, You will still need to comply with all necessary business regulation and licensing laws for starting a cupcake business online

Here are the few vital questions you should ask while you are deciding your cupcake business model :

  1. Are you going make the cupcake yourself or are you going to tie-up partner with bakers/bakery stores and do only deliveries?
  2. Have you decided on the pricing model ?
  3. Have you decided the area where you will be supplying your cupcakes ?How will you ensure the delivery will be as agreed upon?

Try using the business model canvas. A business model canvas will help you get more clarity on the how you can plan your activities.

starting a cupcake business online

#2 Start with a Name and Logo Design

It might sound counter intuitive, but don’t spend too much time here. Shortlist a few names, pick one and get moving.

That’s not to say your name doesn’t matter but having the right cupcake business names will help customer to spell and remember easily. And ideally, it should cover the keyword, the product you’ll be selling. For instance, a name like “janecupcakes.com” covers the Baker/owner’s name.

opening a cupcake business plans

You can also try using random name generator services like

https://www.dotomator.com/ or

https://www.namemesh.com/company-name-generator

Once you’ve decided to starting a cupcake business, you’ll need to be agile – there’s so much to be done.

A number of things (logo design, registering the domain name, hosting decisions, getting your visiting card & brochure printed etc.) can begin only after you’ve finalized a name. The longer you take in finalizing the name, the more these tasks get delayed.

Remember, your success depends upon how you make your customers feel about the product and the shopping experience. Your logo design & the name plays a big role in the branding activities.

#3 Deciding the Domain Name & Website Hosting

Buying a domain name is not much expensive. (typically, $6 to $10 a year). You can choose to buy from either large companies (e.g. GoDaddy) or even we can help you with that too.

cupcake business names

You can register the domain in your personal name even before the company gets registered. Next is the hosting service provider.

The hosting company provides you web space (memory) wherein your online cupcake store runs, in addition to other features.

You’ll not want to go in for the cheap hosting plans. Your entire business is going to depend on the speed of loading, security provided and whether the site is always running. This is not the place to cut corners.

#4 Designing the Website and Mobile App

Before embarking on the cupcake website design and the development, you should have browsed through a good number of online cupcake stores to know what exactly you want.

You will like to go with an experienced eCommerce development company who has worked with cupcake startups and would be able to design a customized cupcake website & cupcake mobile app that would make you stand out of the competition.

Here’s an example of Sweetist.co – one of our customers who partner with the best bakers in New York and deliver it to customer’s doorstep

starting a cupcake business online

You will need to have nice photographs of different cupcakes you are offering posted on the site it would be a great idea to include a menu including all your different cupcakes as well as their prices and descriptions.

You will need to apply for an online payment gateway for example : Stripe or Paypal through which you can accept credit card/ debit card payments from your customers.

While designing your website and app, Do keep these 3 points in mind:

  • One, the online store & the app must be pleasing and have simple user interface to navigate through.
  • Two, the code should be robust enough to keep you and your customers protected.
  • Three, have as many payment options as possible – you don’t want a customer to turn away just because you don’t accept PayPal.

Also, one of the most important factors in deciding the vendor is the Cost;

The best option is to select agencies & vendors who have worked on a similar application earlier which helps you to reduce your cost also if you are able to find out offshore development companies in India as the billing rates would be much more economical

Caution:

Honestly, a poor choice at this stage can pretty much destroy your dreams. Don’t cut corners – at least not too many.

#5 Delivery and Logistics Partners

Often, delivery is called ‘the last lap & the most important one in the entire race’. Making sure the delivery happens the way you promised the customer is critical. The delivery service must be able to deliver satisfactorily or else you’re spoiling everything during the last lap.

The deliverability has multiple factors like :

  1. Stock/Inventory
  2. Serviceable Areas

With on demand platforms like Uber, customers these days need more convenience and real time updates.

With Driver app, Your customers will be able to track their deliveries in real time also you would be able to assign the right deliveries and track the location of each driver.

This makes the entire logistics & supply chain smooth resulting into a phenomenal customer experience & drives in repeat business.

#6 Marketing Your Online Cupcake Business

Once you have the website up and running and you are ready to start your online cupcake business then the biggest and most important hurdle you have to cross now is marketing your online cupcake business

You can start from traditional methods like word of mouth, friends and family former colleagues etc. As you are an online business create social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and start promoting your store.

You also take the email marketing route to get the word out there about your new cupcake business.

If you do not plan to have a in house digital marketing team you can hire an experienced SEO agency that can help you to drive more sales to your cupcake store.

Whichever option you choose you have to realize that you need to market your new business because if you don’t nobody is going to know that you even exist you don’t want your new website to be one of those thousands if not millions of websites that are put up every day just for the fun of it you need to make sure your website works for you check out

However….

If there’s one small but critical tip someone can offer you…

….it’s about the fine print.

To begin with, you’ll need clear Photos and accurate Product Descriptions. Attractive Photos and product description help to increase your cupcake website conversion rates.

Finally, have a clearly worded set of Terms and Conditions, Privacy Policy and Refund & Return Policy. Within them, you should be able to build in Dispute Resolution methods and locations.

It’s a good idea to keep revisiting and reviewing these from time to time.

Conclusion

Once all these things are in place, you can now safely execute the first order.

As a top-rated eCommerce website development company, we’ve been helping people realize their dream of setting up successful online cupcake business.

Why don’t you share us about your ideas ? We’ll be happy to serve you!

How To Start An Online Grocery Store

If you are thinking of starting an online grocery store…..

….there’s this vital bit of statistics:

Accenture estimates that by 2020, out of the total retail consumption by shoppers worldwide, eCommerce will get 13.5%. In other words, out of every 7 dollars spent on retail consumption, eCommerce will get a little over 1 dollar.

Gold rush. Isn’t it ?

Add to it the fact that there’s practically no way you don’t buy grocery – whatever the channel of purchase – you have a promising grocery market.

And yet, people planning to get into the business of online grocery store often think the market is the same as that of an e-retailers….

…….That’s incorrect.

Beyond some superficial similarities the two businesses share, at an operational level, they are entirely different. For instance, an online grocery store deals with items that are perishable in nature, unlike an e-retailer who faces no such risks.

As a result, when you are trying to figure out how to start an online grocery store, you must address these issues in a superior manner.

So here’s what you’ll need to do before starting a grocery store.

#1 Understand And Research The Business

Online grocery is all about sourcing and delivering within the shortest time possible, given the inherent perishable nature of most of its products. You’ll want to understand what do the local farms produce the most and what do they provide the best – often, these two things aren’t the same.

Carefully study and analyze the buying pattern and habits of the geographical area you intend to serve. Since you are dealing with edible items, also understand the local licensing requirements.

Here’s an example of Big Basket – An Indian Grocery startup – They are innovating in the Grocery space where they are delivering specialties of one region to another region similar. This is a niche area and yields high profit margins.

starting a grocery store

Golden Tip: Some of the products you can source might be organic, grown without harmful pesticides. If you can identify or cultivate a market for such products, you can get better profit margins.

#2 Identify The Model That Suits You Best

As mentioned earlier, the perishable nature of the items you intend to sell offers you some business models that differ in delivery, inventory, and payment terms.

The second most question that you need to ask yourself is :

Do you want to operate a warehouse of your own or choose to make arrangements for drop shipping, where your brick-and-mortar partner shop will deliver on your behalf ?

As you begin to explore this question, your business model will continue getting refined.

Let me share an example on how they disrupted the Grocery space :

Instacart’s same-day grocery delivery service has disrupted the grocery market. This created opportunities for other startups to tap into online Grocery delivery business. 

Instacart has partnered with major brands & retailers to delivery groceries to door step.

how to open a grocery store like Instacart

Golden Tip:

It makes sound business sense to have a substantial portion of your offerings in the form of packaged foods that have a much longer shelf-life. For example : A can of Alphonso mango can easily be stored for weeks, while fresh mangoes may not last beyond a week.

#3 Ensure Your Suppliers Can Deliver

The biggest criteria to on board any supplier is to ensure whether they can deliver.

The deliverability has multiple factors like :

  1. Stock/Inventory
  2. Serviceable Areas (If they are ready to own the delivery piece)
  3. Warehouse distance

Also a lot of entrepreneurs, think on the lines of Starting an online organic food & vegetable store and delivery service where they look at tie-ups directly with farmers. So, in this case there are multiple checks that you need to follow :

Not all farms follow best farming practices. As a result, their yield is less likely to be predictable regarding quantity, quality, and timely availability. 

Once farm produce is ready, you’ll need to find buyers quickly or else the product runs the risk of turning stale or otherwise unfit for consumption. And availability is not all – your supplier will need to supply the right quality.

With a good, seasoned supplier you can earn lasting customer loyalty.

Similar to Instacart the same-day delivery by Bloomex supplies fresh fruits & vegetables at your doorstep. This is also a great business model and a great opportunity to tap.

how to start online grocery store

Golden Tip: Starting an online grocery store and running it is profitable and fun, provided you have the right supplier. From the beginning, set up a monitoring system for vendors.

#4 Get Your Technology Angle Right

According to Morgan Stanley Research, more than a 1/3rd of global online consumers are expected to shop their groceries online, which would set the stage for what could be the next significant opportunity for Mobile commerce.

The data makes it evident that technology will take a driver’s seat for a seamless grocery shopping in the future ahead. Your online store is nothing but your website and your app.

Your technology partner needs to understand every feature, every requirement of starting an online grocery store and translate that into a technology-enabled solution.

At Infigic, we have worked on a dozen of Grocery startups and help them prosper with our ready to deploy grocery app & website. As a grocery startup, the most important thing should be your website, as well as your mobile app.

The website and mobile should be super fast, robust, secure and easy to use which would help you to scale as you grow.

Golden Tip: Choose the right grocery app development partner, and you’re pretty much sorted. Our clients benefit from the vast experience we have in designing grocery websites and apps, specifically for online grocery stores.

#5 Make Sure Your Logistics Are In Place

At least in part, your technology partner can influence your logistics: your web or app must be appropriately integrated with your logistics partner. It will become very critical if you are carrying inventory in your warehouse.

With on demand platforms like Uber, customers these days need more convenience and real time updates. With Driver app, Your customers will be able to track their deliveries in real time also you would be able to assign the right deliveries and track the location of each driver. This makes the entire logistics & supply chain smooth resulting into a phenomenal customer experience & repeat business.

If, on the other hand, your business model is one of dropshipping, you will have to evolve a system of remote quality assurance quickly. 

All this must be done within your costing constraints: remember, often people buy online as much for convenience as for getting a good bargain.

Don’t forget; you’re in the business of delivering stuff whose weight efficiently runs into multiple pounds.    

Here an example of an interesting Grocery startup – how they solved the problem of logistics & supply chain creatively ….

 Farmstead approach of relying on small distribution hubs to offer the curated selection of products is a win-win situation as they encourage customers to have weekly deliveries and waives delivery fees for subscribers.

how to start an online grocery store

Golden Tip: An online grocery business cannot handle too many product returns. Additionally, some products may need extra care in packaging and handling or may have to be delivered within a matter of hours to preserve the original taste or flavor.

It’s essential your logistics partner is capable of all this because your business reputation rests upon how well you deliver your promise.

#6 Manage Shopping Carts And Payment

As your business grows, you’ll begin stocking more items. While in itself it’s okay, your online grocery store and app must have been designed to take a more significant number of items. There’s an interesting point here that sets apart online grocery stores from e-retailers.

Buying grocery often involves more than one member of the family. If you can let registered users pool their shopping carts and combine their orders, you not only increase the chances of selling more but also cut your shipping costs, since you’ll be delivering one consolidated order instead of many.

Here’s an example of another Grocery startup :

 Brandless has raised $50 million in funding and sells everyday essentials for $3 each.

how to start online grocery store like brandless

Golden Tip: For items that you’ve partnered with grocers nearest to the buyer, you can always consider offering the Cash on Delivery (CoD) option.

The CoD has its advantage, and when you offer this as an acceptable payment alternative in addition to the regular electronic payment gateways, you’re giving more reason for the customer to buy from you.

#7 Stay Profitable While Serving Better

Staying profitable means your revenues must stay ahead of your costs. With the high number of perishable items you carry, your online grocery store always faces the danger of irrecoverable expenses that result from products past their best-before dates.

The smartest strategy to keep that balanced will perhaps be to carry packaged foods that have a longer shelf life, and sometimes also a better profit margin.

Here’s an example of an interesting startup which ventured into Online Seafood and Fish Delivery service – The biggest pain point they addressed was “How to start an online seafood & fish delivery service” –

Freshtohome tied up with fishermen who return from fishing trips daily. By, this way they are able to deliver fresh food to their customer’s door step

starting a grocery store

Golden Tip: The more intermediaries you can cut, the better your margins. In certain items (say, dry fruits) you may need to depend upon intermediaries, but in other cases (say, fresh vegetables) you have the choice of striking a deal with the farm that grows the produce.

Such an arrangement can cut intermediary commissions, improve margins and deliver fresher produce.

#8 Build a Strong Marketing Program

Starting an online grocery store, just like any other business, requires you to design and execute a high-impact marketing program carefully. You can do it yourself, but you’ll likely prefer having a specialized agency do it for you.

A full-service SEO agency that offers you everything from off-page and on-page SEO to content marketing and everything in between could be what you’re looking for.

Another thing you can consider is having native advertisements or tying up with reasonably popular recipe YouTube channels or cooking blogs.

You can send them free samples of some of the items you carry, and in turn, they can use those ingredients or merely review your products.

how to open a grocery store with Youtube

Leverage popular YouTube channels and cooking blogs for impactful marketing.

Golden Tip: In most cases, grocery items have different names in different languages. Marketing best practices require that your online grocery store website or your mobile application for grocery store must offer multilingual features.

That can be done quickly – just integrate with Google Translate. That way you won’t have to worry about losing customers just because your online grocery store didn’t have the right word.

Conclusion :

If you are looking how to start a grocery store these are the steps you should consider. We’ve left out apparent details like licensing requirements or great photography. But do you think we missed anything significant? Don’t let us get away if we fell short; post your comments below and share what you think.

Looking to start an online grocery store, Get in touch with us and find out how we can work together to convert your grocery store idea into working grocery application.

6 Ways to Improve eCommerce User Experience in 2018

Competition in eCommerce has been heating up in 2018. New equations in logistics and pricing are being formed and tested. eCommerce companies are fighting one other using every possible tactic in the book – and outside. While this mostly benefits customers in terms of wider choices and better prices, many online companies are also struggling to stay afloat.

And that’s not surprising too. On the face of it, the business model is quite transparent and there doesn’t seem to be much scope for your brand to stand out. Since almost eCommerce companies follow similar strategies, from sourcing to selling, the big riddle the companies are trying to solve is: how to remain sustainable and competitive in this world?

The answer lies in one phrase: end user experience. One thing can be said with absolute certainty. Whether you’ve built your site with the help of Magento, whether you’ve built it on Shopify or whether you’re using Laravel, at the end of the day, competition boils down to creating a better online shopping experience.

If you can provide the online consumer experience that is superior to what your competitors offer, you will excel and remain profitable, no matter what. A skilled eCommerce solution company can help you survive and thrive even when Amazon, Baidu or Tencent appear to conquer the online world. Since the entire eCommerce industry is built around convenience improving the customer experience will likely impact your business more than any other factor will.

Here’s a list of creative ways in which you can improve eCommerce user experience that will not only improve loyalty but also boost sales.

1. Provide an Excellent, a High-Quality End-User Experience

Cool designs are only the starting point of a high-quality end-user experience. Remember, the key word is convenience. It all begins with the layout.

Three factors drive a great layout: clear categories, consistent designs, and clickable links. If you have a number of products – which most likely you do – it’s important you classify them in clear, logical categories. That makes searching for products a great deal easier.

Amazon eCommerce user experience

The categorization at Amazon is easy and intuitive.

Next, make sure all your pages carry a consistent look. For instance, if you use the left side-bar for placing various filters (prices, size, brands etc.), make sure each page carries the same style. Using a uniform, consistent layout across all pages keeps things simple for customers.

Amazon end user experience

The designs of Amazon.in (Left, India) and Amazon.com (Right, USA) are kept identical to provide a ease and consistency to customers.

Finally, don’t forget to make links clickable. It’s a habit customer have developed over time: if she likes a product, she’ll click on the image or the description. If the image isn’t clickable, it can quickly frustrate the customer.

That’s not all. Your site, no matter how well-designed, can always benefit from things that reassure the customer it is trustworthy. For instance, you can use a badge that tells the customer what trusted anti-virus system your site employs or what universal security measures make all payments safe. Customers stay loyal to sites that are clearly trustworthy.

Important tip: Make sure your clickable images carry the ALT tag – that descriptive piece of information about the image that helps search engines and visually challenged customers.

Don’t forget: Make sure your search feature works on all pages!

2. Build the Best Shopping Cart

There’s something all eCommerce companies need to understand: your eCommerce is only as valuable as your shopping cart. No matter how much your customer browses, your revenue is not going to exceed the total value of goods she’s put in the shopping cart. Pay great attention to that tiny little shopping cart. Magento has some really wonderful tools to build a better shopping cart.

Make sure your shopping cart is visible on all pages. Your customer should be able to peep into the cart and easily see anytime what’s inside – just like a real-life shopping cart. Another reason the cart should be visible is that a customer may have come looking for a Tee, but if she finds a Deo is great, there’s no reason she’d need to waste time looking for the shopping cart. Help the customer buy more!

How Allen Solly Improve user experience

The shopping cart of Allen Solly is distinctly visible on all pages and is always placed at the same location.

Many customers, at the last moment, decide they don’t want to buy and proceed to make payment. They abandon their cart, never to return. You need to have a strong cart abandonment policy that follows with the customer to learn why the sale never happened. It should make the best effort in convincing the customer in finishing the purchase and making the payment.

Important tip: If a customer has abandoned one or more products before making the payment, you’ll want to gently remind the customer by email whenever the product goes on sale and there’s a great bargain.

Don’t forget: Apart from the shopping cart, you should have provision for Wish List – an inventory of items the customer would like to purchase in future.

3. Design From the Point of View of the Customer

Start by asking yourself this question: if you were a customer, is there a strong, compelling reason you’d want to buy from your site? How friendly have you made the site? Are any of basic features absent?

If you’re a new buyer, for instance, one of the first things you’ll see is the kind of reviews previous customers have left behind. Are they happy with the product quality? What has been their online shopping experience in terms of shipping? Did they feel the price was justified? Highlight clearly the reviews or testimonials customers have left behind, As they provide a great push to the product without you spending a single penny on that!

Star rating to improve online shopping experience

A simple, star rating method tells customers about the product quality at a glance.

Next, make all processes easy for customers, both new and returning. For instance, a customer who’s returning after a considerable time is almost sure to have forgotten the password. Make it easy to retrieve passwords. If you’re building with Magento, make sure you hire Magento developer who fully understands how important this seemingly small matter is.

Let customers buy without registering; don’t make it compulsory. Instead, you can gently remind them the benefits of registering so that they can receive notifications of special offers, discounts and so on in the various products they are interested in.

Important tip: Gently persuade your customers to leave behind reviews or testimonials. Thank them once they do so!

Don’t forget: It’s important your site carries the contact details of your support team on all pages. This strengthens the trust customers put in you.

4. Provide support that is unobtrusive

Support doesn’t mean having to be present all the time; support means helping the customer solve a particular problem. At the stage when eCommerce is fast maturing as a business, customers often prefer self-help support. If there’s something not ok with the product, customers are comfortable reading up stuff and fixing that small bug themselves.

That’s not to say you can ask all your customer service executives to leave. It just means that you need to invest better resources in creating better assets for customer support. Write better product descriptions so customers know what exactly to look forward to. Create better videos that show how the product connects or operates. Come up with better knowledge base articles that your customers can easily understand and follow directions from.

Timex online consumer experience

Instead of writing ‘Male’ and ‘Female’, Timex chose to write ‘Shop Gifts for Him’ and ‘Shop Gifts for Her’. This keeps the customer emotionally invested in Product Classification / Description. Notice the word ‘Gifts’ is used in plural!

Important tip: Your customer support team should be ready to step in when required. You can’t leave everything to product descriptions and videos.

Don’t forget: Use every single interaction with the customer to learn. Build a bank of experiences to train your team better and ultimately serve your customers faster and better in future.

5. The actual shopping can be a lot better

The actual shopping is the stage when the customer has her wallet out to make the payment. In an eCommerce transaction, there’s a series of small decisions that the customer makes. The real challenge for an expert eCommerce website development agency is to ensure, right from the design stage, that each of these stages are smooth, almost imperceptible.

Make sure you offer the alternate payment options that are fast becoming popular. The reason is quite simple: your customers have been using these options, say PayPal, elsewhere so paying through PayPal comes naturally and easily for them. When, on the other hand, they don’t see a PayPal option on your site, they need to spend the time to decide which other option they use. And this becomes one of the most common causes of shopping cart abandonment.

payment options ecommerce user experience

Amazon offers a wide number of payment options.

The customer will be taking one last look at the shopping cart before punching in the PayPal code or the credit card details. This is a stage where you can provide additional reassurance. Remind the customer you have a friendly return-policy (this is quite important for the products purchased online). Repeat the approximate date the product will reach the customer. Display the shipping option the customer has chosen.

Important tip: Choose your shipping partners wisely. Don’t let a third-party goof up or delay deliveries and ruin your image.

Ocado online shopping experience

Many sites are making timely, hassle-free delivery their USP.

Don’t forget: Make sure your checkouts are super-easy. Don’t load the customer for unnecessary things to do.

6. Post-purchase experience counts a lot too

Ok, I’m a customer; I’ve chosen the product and made the payment. How are you going to treat me now?

To begin with, you should be able to generate a detailed receipt of the payment the customer has made. Make sure you spell out the actual product details, like “White Sony headphones, Model AV29, Noise-cancelling technology…” Don’t use short forms or only product codes like, “WSF, MAV29-#6521451”. That only increases the post-purchase anxiety.

Here’s how you can turn the transactional emails into a powerful source of great customer loyalty. Amazon, for instance, has a wonderful system. It will send you an email when the product is ready for shipping, it will send you another email when the product is shipped, send you yet another email when the product is ready for delivery… The way in which Amazon constantly stays in touch the customer feels both valued and cared for. No wonder it’s difficult to snatch even one customer from Amazon!

Reward your repeat customers or customers making high-volume purchases with well-designed royalty programs. And when customers refer other their friends or relatives to your site, don’t forget to thank them! If there’s a referral program in place, great but otherwise, the least you can do is thank them! A sincere thank you message can advance your relationship with the customer a great deal.

Customer support to improve end user experience

Amazon is both quick and generous in rewarding returning customers.

Important tip: If you’re maintaining blogs or are creating content, make sure the content is valuable and worthy of sharing. And don’t forget to invest in distribution as much as you invest in creating valuable content.

Don’t forget: Be honest and transparent in all your communications and advertisements. And, above everything else, trust customers when it comes to accepting products for replacements.

Easy navigation, the right pricing (not necessarily the cheapest), proper packing and shipping options, secured payment gateways and great customer service all it takes to build an eCommerce website. If you build your eCommerce site with the objective of winning customer loyalty you’ll never go wrong.

We’re most excited when we help people with their eCommerce website and build them eCommerce solutions of all sizes and varieties! Get in touch with us and find out how we can work together to help you make it big!

How to Start an Online Boutique

Oftentimes, the tips on how to start an online boutique are so simplistic you’d think you’ll begin making big money in the next 24 hours. In other cases, these tips make the whole task look more difficult than building a nuclear reactor!

Luckily, neither of these cases is true.

You can plan, build, and operate profitably an online boutique without knowing a single line of code. Starting an online boutique is as easy – or as difficult – as starting any other business. The number of platforms, with specialized tools, makes opening an online boutique a great deal easier, but the hard work you need to put in remains the same as in any other business.

Since everyone else has access to the all the tools and platforms as you do, your success is dependent on details, on how you’ve used these tools and how you’ve deployed the technology therein rather than the tools. The better you understand things, from eCommerce website development to the legalities, the easier your journey becomes.

This post breaks down the entire process and explains how to open an online boutique in easy-to-understand parts and helps you through each stage.

1.  Answer the What, Who and Why of Your Boutique.

You must begin by answering three types of questions.

What do you intend to sell? Retrograde fashion dresses? Formals? Special African designs? Or maybe just hair-bows for young girls?

Next, who are your target customers? 40+ males? 21-30 females? Work-from-home moms? Middle-level executives?

And finally, the why. Why should your target customers buy from you? What is ‘special’ you offering? What’s so special about you?

Profiling your customer – called building the buyer persona – has one more purpose. Your website design and color combinations must subtly reflect your target groups. It’s like creating a design consistency. Surely you’ve noticed online stores selling products for babies heavily use pink and those selling to teens very often build with a denim theme.

This is also an amazing opportunity to do a skill audit: find what skills you already have and which ones you need to add. Adding skills means either learning fresh skills or bringing in an employee or even a partner.

Answer all these questions as carefully as you can. It will help you figure out if your thinking is flawed, whether you’re really offering something unusual or whether you’re just another boutique. It will also help you package your marketing content better since you know whom you are talking to and what desires you’re satisfying.

Here’s an example of Angel Heart Boutique that focuses on selling plus sizes dresses online

how to start an online boutique

 

 

 Caution:

This is more important than most people imagine. Don’t ignore this, but also remember your understanding will grow – and possibly change – as you get into the actual business.

At the end of this stage:

You’ll understand your product, your customers, and your niche a good deal better. That will make your marketing smoother and more effective.

2. Spend a Limited Time On a Name and Logo Design

It might sound counter-intuitive, but don’t spend too much time here. Shortlist a few names, pick one, register a domain and get moving.

That’s not to say your name doesn’t matter. You’ll want a name that can be spelled and remembered easily. And ideally, it should cover the keyword, the product you’ll be selling. For instance, a name like “janebestbridaldresses.com” covers the designer/owner’s name (Jane) and the products the boutique specializes in (bridal dresses).

Why then do we urge you to be quick?

That’s because once you’ve decided to starting a clothing boutique, you’ll need to be agile – there’s so much to be done. A number of things (logo design, registering the domain name, hosting decisions, getting things printed etc.) can begin only after you’ve finalized a name. The longer you take in finalizing the name, the more these tasks get delayed.

 

Remember, your success depends upon how you make your customers feel about the product and the shopping experience, not on your logo.

Caution:

It’s easy to get carried away and delay finalizing the name and the logo. Don’t fall into the trap of perfection. Accept what is practically decent and move on.

At the end of this stage:

You will have finalized the name – and the logo – of your boutique. If at all you want to have a logo, make sure you don’t overspend your time in this stage.

3. Deciding the Hosting and Design

There are four components of setting up a website: registering a domain name, getting hosting space, writing the code for the website and having the website designed. Typically, the last two go hand-in-hand and are handled by the same organization (not the same person). Apart from this, you’ll also be making a choice in terms of selecting the platform (e.g. Magento vs Shopify).

Maintaining your domain name is a yearly expense (typically, $6 to $10 a year). You can choose to buy from either large companies (e.g. GoDaddy) or the local service provider your friend refers you to.

Make sure all the documents related to the domain-name registering clearly mention you (or your company you’ve set up) as the owner of the domain name. This will avoid ownership issues down the line.

image2

Next is the hosting service provider. The hosting company provides you space (memory) wherein your online boutique runs, in addition to other features. If you have opted for a hosted service like Shopify, this service is already built into the fees they charge you, so there’s very little that needs to be done. Otherwise, you’ll need to find your way around.

You’ll not want to go in for the least expensive hoster. Your entire business is going to depend on the speed of loading, security provided and whether the site is always running. This is not the place to cut corners.

Check around in various forums, ask all questions you can think of directly to the hosters and understand every feature. Mostly it’s good to have a hoster who offers multiple features. You may not use some of them right away, but it’s good to know they are available anytime you change your mind.

Finally, the website design and the development . Hopefully, by this stage, you would have browsed through a good number of online boutiques to know what exactly you want. You will like to go with an experienced eCommerce development company who has worked with fashion startups & boutiques and would be able to design a customized fashion website  & fashion mobile app that would make you stand out of the competition.

Keep four things in mind:

  • One, the site must be pleasing and simple user interface to navigate through.
  • Two, the code should be robust enough to keep you and your customers protected.
  • Three, have as many payment options as possible – you don’t want a customer to turn away just because you don’t accept PayPal.
  • And four, have a proper cart abandonment management feature in place.

Caution:

Honestly, a poor choice at this stage can pretty much destroy your dreams. Don’t cut corners – at least not too many.

At the end of this stage:

You’ll have a site with the payment gateway and a shopping cart.

4. Research for Your Sourcing and Logistics Partners

The basic boutique model works this way: buy wholesale, sell retail and book profit on the price difference in the two. Therefore, this stage very directly and very visibly impacts your profits. Sourcing the right quality at the lowest price is something every boutique wants to excel at.

Make no mistakes, finding the right wholesaler is an uphill task. You’ll probably start with Alibaba and then find your way through. Sometimes asking around isn’t very productive, since you may be talking to your potential competitors, who may not be too keen to help you! That’s the fun part when learning the finer aspects of how to start an online clothing boutique!

Here are the four vital questions you should ask while looking for wholesale suppliers:

  1. Are you going to carry an inventory or are you opting for dropshipping?
  2. Would they be able to provide and sustain the quality you’re looking for?
  3. Does their pricing sound fair? Or is it too cheap to be unsustainable in the long run?
  4. How will you ensure the delivery will be as agreed upon?

Drop shipping means you don’t carry any inventory and the supplier ships directly to the customer when you instruct the supplier. While this can hugely cut your inventory costs, you have little or no control (e.g. a final quality check or the packaging quality) over the product before it is delivered.

Remember, your customer knows only you and not the supplier. Hence, even though you aren’t the manufacturer, you are going to be held responsible for the quality – of the absence of it. That means you need to be sure of what quality you are getting from the supplier satisfies your brand promise: elite, value-for-money, bargain and so on.

Often, shipping is called ‘the last lap in the entire race’. Making sure the shipping and delivery happen the way you promised the customer is critical. The shipping agency must be able to deliver satisfactorily or else you’re spoiling everything during the last lap.

Caution:

This is pretty much do-it-yourself. Make sure you learn fast and keep improving. The delay from either of the two can hurt you deeply.

At the end of this stage:

You’ll have identified two kinds of critical partners: the suppliers and the shipping company. If you have done it right, you’ve won more than half the battle.

5. Understand and Fulfill Your Legal Obligations.

If there’s one small but critical tip someone can offer you on how to start your own online boutique, it’s about the fine print. There is two kind of legal obligations you need to fulfill: towards the customers and towards your local or regional authorities.

Towards your customers:

To begin with, you’ll need clear and accurate Product Descriptions. Decently written Product Descriptions not only drastically reduce returns but also help you in your marketing and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) exercises.

Next, have a clearly worded set of Terms and Conditions, Privacy Policy and Refund & Return Policy. Within them, you should be able to build in Dispute Resolution methods and locations. You’ll also need a statement declaring the Limitation of Liability that covers, among other things, the extent of product liability if you are selling some unusual products. Refer competitor websites to understand how all these things work.

It’s a good idea to keep revisiting and reviewing these from time to time.

image4

Towards the authorities:

Thankfully, there won’t be too many licenses or permits involved when you’re selling clothes. Yet, you must check out with the state authorities – their websites are probably the best place to start from.

Since you’re in a startup mode, probably you may not be able to afford a lot of people to do your accounts. Therefore, keep track of every expense and every sale and file them appropriately. Periodically, an accountant can record them and keep your account books in order.

Caution:

This is not something you’ll need on a day-to-day basis, so it’s easy to forget doing this. But remember, ignorance of the law is no excuse.

At the end of this stage:

Once all these things are in place, you can now safely execute the first order. As a top-rated Magento development agency, we’ve been helping people realize their dream of setting up successful online boutiques, with everything that’s eCommerce. Why don’t you tell us more about your company? We’ll be happy to serve you!

7 Ways to Improve Your eCommerce Web Design and Usability

Margaret Gould Stewart, one of the key designers at Facebook, one said in her TEDx talks, “When you are designing on a large scale, there is no such thing as minor detail.” Perhaps nowhere it applies more than to magento web designs.

With dozens of online shops coming up every day, it will take a much deeper understanding of eCommerce to stand out, grow and stay ahead of your competitors. And a better grasp of the finer aspects of design and their implications will most certainly provide the much-required push.

Design As a Tool to Improving Things

If you look at  eCommerce website development scenario today, you’ll easily see the focus is moving towards how to make the entire shopping experience more convenient, and more pleasurable. In any case, almost all online shops follow robust coding and security best practices, so the key differentiator is experience and usability. And design is the right tool to deliver this.

Today, design is not only about aesthetics; design is also about creating an amazing experience at an eCommerce store. An experience that makes things easier to look for a particular product. An experience that allows users to compare similar products. An experience that makes it easy for users to make payment and check out.

We dug around the net, talked to experts and looked at numerous eCommerce sites to find what made successful magento eCommerce designs click and tried to figure out ways of improving usability. Here is a list of the 7 important things we found that would hugely improve your eCommerce designs and positively impact usability.

1. Extend Visual Support

When you set out to design your Magento eCommerce store, you’re so involved it’s easy to take a number of things for granted and ignore what all things a visitor might fail to understand. The layout of your Magento eCommerce store should require minimum to zero support for things that visitors could easily do themselves.

Consider the following image from Lee.com. The visitor is checking out khakhi pants, but she may have no idea what does a certain size indicate and what size corresponds to what waist or seat size. So she may need assistance. The tiny “?” design that has now become almost a universal symbol for “What’s this?” or “I need to understand this better” does the trick. This tells the user she can get answer to her questions about size by clicking on the “?” design. Sense of design can convey a short yet fully understandable message without disturbing the experience.

image4

2. Use Breadcrumbs

Unless your eCommerce store has very few products, you’ll surely be using various pages and a number of categories and subcategories. Breadcrumbs (the display of the chain of pages from the homepage to the page the user is currently on) come in handy when you want to make the user’s navigation easy in your store that has multiple level of pages.

Breadcrumbs serve multiple purposes, only one of which is to show the location of the page the user is currently browsing. The major advantage of using breadcrumbs is to reduce the number of actions. Here’s a great example from Bestbuy.

The user has reached ‘Apple Macbook Pro’ right now; in case she wishes so, she can directly jump back to Computer & Tablets by clicking on “Computer & Tablets”, instead of hitting the back button many times over. This may not sound very important, but remember you’re offering convenience – and that’s what matters most.

image5

3. Exhibit Your Credentials

One of the top reasons eCommerce sites like Amazon are hugely popular is the kind of unbeatable security that comes bundled with the shopping experience. With Amazon, trust is well-established; Amazon doesn’t have to highlight it very prominently.

With relatively smaller eCommerce companies, trust remains an issue. For instance, ViralStyle manages this in a very noticeable, outright manner – no wonder, because it’s a startup when you compare it to established giants like Target or Amazon.

Like ViralStyle here, you too can highlight what you guarantee – this shows your commitment towards customer satisfaction. Additionally, you may provide a contact phone number and/or address to further reinforce users’ faith in you.

image6

4. Use Emails Instead of Usernames

In magento website development, a very simple change can profoundly impact your business goals.

For instance, here is a classic example. Most eCommerce websites ask for your contact details for various reasons. To identify you, they could let you select a username. The problem is people may be using a wide variety of user names across different eCommerce platforms and even within the same site.

This problem is solved in a very unique manner. Instead of asking for usernames, ask for email addresses. The average user has a lot fewer email addresses than she has user addresses. That way, you solve an important website usability testing problem for the user and make the task of your CRM tools a great deal easier.

Take a look at Bestbuy.com example below and you’ll see it’s important.image3

5. Show Cart Contents

image7

Many users buy nothing; they simply window-shop and disappear. Others pile a few things in their shopping cart and abandon the cart just before payment, never to return again. While you cannot expect to bring cart abandonment rate down to zero, you can certainly better address the issue.

Of the many explanations offered as to why visitors abandon carts, one reason stands out: When visitors add more than one product in their cart, they cannot remember everything they’ve bought. Did they buy something they never wanted? Did they leave out something?

An experienced ecommerce development company takes care of this very well. Your design should exhibit the cart contents easily and visibly when the user desires, as this example from Target clearly points out.

Among the many things you need to show while showing all the contents of your shopping cart, quantity and price seem to be key. Always offer users the last opportunity to double-check things they’ve bought. It not only helps reduce post-purchase anxiety but also correct simple errors like having accidentally clicked on something different.

6. Offer Easy Checkout with Confirmation

Some users are visiting your site for the first time and will evidently browse and move out smoothly and rapidly without making purchases. Others are returning buyers and may be looking for only a certain product.

Help all visitors by giving them a check-out option early on, as the image from Target.com here so clearly shows. Returning customers know the routes; you need to satisfy them by offering the easy check-out button. Easy check-out means you value the customer’s time and that makes them feel important.

Don’t forget it’s important to ask for confirmation as regards their purchases before letting customers actually proceed to make payment.

image2

7. Offer ‘Continue Shopping’

The ultimate aim in the entire process of eCommerce development is to delight customers profitably and sell more. So it’d be a great idea to let them complete the buying and then again buy more and then end by making the payment.

But what if the customer had clicked on ‘Check out’ by mistake? Wouldn’t you want the customer to return, make the remaining purchase and then proceeds towards checkout?

image1

The image here shows how two deeply connected things have been placed close to each other – Related Products, and, Continue Shopping. By showing related products (here titled as “guests also viewed”) the eCommerce store is making a last-moment effort to remind the customer if there’s something else she’d also like to buy; perhaps she forgot buying something.

Adding a “Continue Shopping” button improves engagement, helps customer resume shopping and get the benefits of big savings in pricing or free shipping advantage just because she actually continued shopping. Don’t forget to add this button.

So those were the 7 things we thought were extremely important to improve eCommerce web design and usability. What do you think we missed out? What has been your experience?