‘Boutique’ is such an evocative word – it means so much more than ‘shop’ or ‘store’. A boutique is not just a simple place to exchange goods for money;it creates a unique experience for the customer. Here are four tips to help you set up a boutique and differentiate yourself from the thousands of mundane, boring ‘shops’ out there.
1. Unique Selling Points
What’s your angle? What’s separating you from the crowd? Look for a product or service that might be a bit niche but still in high demand. What are people loving at the moment but can’t easily find? The easiest way to compete with established businesses is to not really compete with them at all. Don’t attack them head-on by trying to beat them at their own game; instead, sidestep and attack them from the side. Maybe focus entirely on one particular service or product, which will allow you to concentrate on delivering the highest possible quality rather than spreading yourself thin.
2. The Experience of Shopping at Your Boutique
Service is key to further differentiating yourself from your competitors. Anyone can exchange a product or service for money, but how you make a customer feel during that process is what’s going to get people talking (and nothing’s as powerful as word-of-mouth when it comes to marketing).Outstanding customer service will get people looking for an excuse to visit your boutique. And service goes beyond the sale;after-sales support is key to generating a loyal customer base and a fantastic reputation.
3. External Warehouse Storage for Surplus Stock
You’ve got to put your stock somewhere. Dedicated storage space is nice and handy,especially if you develop a surplus of stock. Since you’re focusing on a very niche product, you will probably need a highly specialised storage and warehousing system that allows you to best manage your products, especially if your business is slow to start. It’s well worth looking into professional, commercial storage solutions from a company like Elbowroom (click here for more details), who can provide you with pallet racking, shelving and storage equipment.
4. Atmosphere and Style
How you promote, decorate, and style your boutique cements the image of it in your customers’ minds. Again, the key to success here is differentiation;find out what your competitors are doing and then don’t do that. Pick out colour schemes and layout/design ideas that separate you fully from everyone else. Find unique packaging ideas and materials for your products. Offer promotions and discounts that other stores wouldn’t dare do. Keep it different.
Boutiques should be unique, they should be focused, and they should be fun! That’s what differentiates you from mainstream shops. Ideally, your boutique should provide something above and beyond the product or service you offer – simply going into one should be as much of a draw card for shoppers as buying something. These are four ideas, but there are many, many others you could come up with.
What would you suggest to someone who wants to set up a boutique? Share your advice or thoughts in the comments below.