Choosing the right inventory and how much of it to get is a part of the boutique journey that everyone goes through. You are likely wondering will people buy what I sell and should I buy alot of the piece that I believe in. Trust us, it will get better as you learn your customers and get feedback from sales/customers.
In your early days a boutique owner, there are a few routes you can take to ensure you attract customers and prevent overbuying.
Select a Target Customer
If you select a target customer or target audience, it will be easier to know what to buy. If you look at the buying process as personal styling, it will be easier to grasp onto what sells and what doesn't. To do this, determine:
- who you want to sell to?
- what is their age range?
- where are they located/
- where are they already shopping?
- what type of income do they make (age comes into play)?
- what type of outfits do they wear in photos?
Hot Girl Aesthetic
This girl likely goes out a lot, likes to dress very sexy, wears tight clothes, interested in staying shape in cute activewear, clutches, heels, jewelry, makeup, etc. It is safe to assume, they may enjoy getting their clothing from sites like Fashion Nova, Akira, Shein
Laid Back/Cali Style
This girl likes to be cute and comfy, prefers basics, sandals, oversized fashion, loungewear, sunglasses, hats, totes, etc. It is safe to assume this person likes to shop at Sorella, Pretty Little Thing.
Purchasing products similar to where your audience shops or finding new stylish products that fits the aesthetic is the goal.
Past Sales & Followers
Based on previous sales, you should be able to discover what type of products trend. You can take it a step further and see what colors trend more than others, what type of clothing trends more (i.e. crop tops, leggings, sunglasses), etc. For example, your customer base may prefer soft colors over neon or stripes over floral. There's no point in continuing to buy things that don't sell well. The more time you take to learn your customer, the better your returning customer rate and you will begin to see a growth in sales from word-of-mouth advertising.
In addition, if you already have a social media, check out your insights and see where your followers are located. There will be a top list of states, so your advertising should be focused on attracting these customers.
For example, let's say the majority of your followers are from New York. This is who you want to target in the winter with your advertising and marketing. You could use a caption on a winter sale that states "survive the New York winter freeze with this furry lined coat. A must-have for the season. You may have a product that lists a city across it.
Presales are the best way to prevent any overbuying. You can run a presale to determine how responsive the item is to customers and save a lot of money up front. Let's say you want to sell a custom t shirt with a city or zodiac sign on it. Instead of getting one made in every city, every size, multiple colors, etc. up front, you can run a presale and allow customers to place orders with a scheduled ship date. This will prevent purchasing too many products that may never sell or will have to be deeply discounted because of its specificity.
This works great for products that you plan to sell for the next season. A presale on unique boots would be great to run around September/October because it gives an exclusive feel. Nobody has this item yet. This would work the same for a unique swimwear design, etc. Use engaging keywords that trigger FOMO to get the sale.
Think Entire Outfits, Not Just Pieces
If it fits into your budget, try to stock up inventory that compliment each other. The perfect product mix isn't a bunch or random items you're selling - it needs to be somewhat cohesive. This is why many boutiques release products by the season (or drops). Depending on your goals, you can release "drops" or season pieces.
A drop is a great way to build up hype to ensure you have interest in your products. A drop usually consists of several products that compliment each other. Most pieces can be worn separate or together from head to toe. This can instantly increase your average order value. The best way to run a drop is to purchase products ahead of time and create marketing with the products before the release date. Dropping daily photos/videos showcasing your new products is a great way to build FOMO and increase engagement. You can take it a step further and have customers sign up for release information, be first to get with a discount, etc.
Seeing Hearts (Valentine's Day Drop)
Mid-January you can start letting people know you have something special coming with a small hint in the photo or caption. Tease for another week and start dropping marketing content wearing the products. These products may include:
- Red and white mesh heart print shirt
- Red and white mesh heart print dress
- Red and white heart jumpsuit
- Red furry slides with heart on top
- Red and white heart jumpsuit
- heart shaped sunglasses
- heart shaped phone case
- black and Pink heart crop top
- black and Pink heart crewneck sweater
- black and pink heart pajama short set
- black and pink heart thong set\
You can do the same with all drops (i.e. The Neon Edit, Girls Night Out, etc.). The more drops you have, the more anticipation that comes with it. This means, you will likely buy more inventory for future drops.
By trying out some of the things we suggested, you will be able to determine what mix of products you should include in your online boutique. In addition, after focusing on your target customer wishes and wants, you can prevent overstocking.