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How to Turn Your Clothing Boutique into an Online Ecommerce Store

Austin Chegini
12 Aug 2021

2020 has brought changes to the way we live, work and shop like we’ve never experienced before. The rapid and unexpected way the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed our day-to-day lives has fundamentally changed the retail industry.

April is traditionally a quiet month for eCommerce, as people cut back on spending after Christmas. However, April 2020 set a new record, with online purchases 6.8% higher than the previous largest recorded period – the 30 days to 18 December 2019 which encompassed Black Friday and the pre-Christmas rush.  April 2020 welcomed more than 200,000 new shoppers to the online space. Of these, over a third (35.5%) made an online purchase more than once, and 16.7% shopped three or more times. 

While these statistics may seem like physical retailers are losing to online e-commerce stores, the nature of the industry is more complex. The majority of online clothing purchases start in-store, most likely because shoppers can try on items for their look and feel and then search online for better deals. 

Instead of losing sales to an online competitor, clothing boutiques can build an online store as well to capture sales further down the buying cycle. 

Choose an e-commerce platform 

Deciding what system to use is the first step in converting a physical shop into an online ecommerce store. In the old days of the internet, managing inventory, collecting payments, and conducting other core business functions was a challenge. Many small businesses did not have the resources to build a virtual presence.

Now, entrepreneurs can choose from platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce. These services provide nearly all the tools needed to build a profitable online store. In fact, nearly 46,000 businesses chose BigCommerce to run their e-commerce businesses, and roughly 18% of those retailers are in the apparel industry. 

Look for these features when choosing your e-commerce program:

  • Content management
  • Search engine optimisation
  • Reporting tools
  • Promotional options

TIP: Epos Now customers can now get BigCommerce FREE for their first three months.

Digitise your inventory

After choosing what platform you will use, it is time to catalog all your items and add them to your online store. If you have an electronic point of sale system, this may be an easy process. It might only take a few clicks to get most of the heavy lifting done! 

For traditional retailers, you will want to review your inventory and categorise all your items. While you’re at it, you can think of tags, product descriptions, sizes, and other information you will need when listing your products. 

Most importantly, you need to take excellent photos. Customers cannot physically interact with the product, so you need to do your best to display it in its best light. Here are some tips for taking top-notch product photos:

  • Use good lighting
  • Take multiple photos from various angles
  • Be sure to show size and scale (ex: Show a ring on someone’s finger)
  • Use a lightbox or other clean background

Choose a digital payment gateway

Buyers want a secure shopping experience. Much like how some people will not want to buy name brand purses from a dubious street vendor, online shoppers do not want to buy from unsafe websites. 

In the first six months of 2019 alone, 23 million stolen credit cards were listed for sale online. Payment gateways help e-retailers collect and process payments to protect shoppers and stores. Encryption ensures that malicious actors cannot intercept the data and steal a customer’s information. 

Additionally, payment gateways offer many simple ways to purchase goods and services. Customers can use debit and credit cards, ACH transfers, and recurring billing when buying online. 

Epos Now partners with International Bancard to provide on-site and online payment solutions. Protect your shop and your customers with International Bancard’s lightning-fast, secure system. 

Get the word out and build your customer base

Once your site is online, make sure your customers know where to find you! You want to prevent them from trying clothes on at your shop and buying similar items at a competitor’s site. 

Here are a handful of ways to promote your new website in your store:

  • Hand out business cards with promotional discounts
  • Add special online offers at the end of receipts
  • Collect email addresses and remarket to your past customers

Once customers start visiting your new site, you need to demonstrate your store’s value. Perhaps you can provide a pop-up that offers a 10% discount in return for joining your email list. Another option is to provide discounts if they bundle several items into one purchase. The goal is to provide these offers from the start so that shoppers will feel like they’re getting a deal and will want to shop with you again.

Incorporate some of these marketing practices once customers start to visit your website:

  • Send out weekly emails with special promotions
  • Use retargeting ads to encourage past visitors to continue shopping
  • Send abandoned cart emails with a small discount to boost sales
  • Start a loyalty program that rewards repeat shopping on your site

Upgrade Your Physical Shop

Lastly, you should not forget about your current store during this process. Most sales still happen in-person, so you want to provide an incredible experience physically and digitally. 

As we mentioned earlier, a cloud POS system can integrate with your e-commerce platform. Installing one of these systems can be the best investment you will make for your business. In addition to offering a seamless experience with your online store, a cloud POS provides:

  • Reporting tools to track expenses, inventory, income, payroll, and more
  • Marketing integrations to keep in touch with customers and build a loyalty program
  • Online backups so you will never lose data due to theft, accidents, or hardware failures

Epos Now provides the latest in cloud POS hardware and software, and over 30,000 businesses chose us for their shops and online e-commerce stores.

Call us and speak with a consultant to learn more about setting up your online shop.