Do you want to start an online baby boutique business from home? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a baby boutique business with NO money and no experience.
Okay, so we have provided you an in-depth sample baby boutique business plan template. We also took it further by analyzing and drafting a sample baby boutique marketing plan backed up by actionable guerrilla marketing ideas for baby boutiques. In this article, we will be considering all the requirements for starting a baby boutique business. So put on your entrepreneurial hat and let’s proceed.
Why Start a Baby Boutique?
If you are thinking of starting a baby boutique or have already started the process, the prospect of becoming the entrepreneur of such a beautiful business can be exciting. We all can agree that millions of children are born each year, meaning that a lot of parents are looking to purchase baby clothing, toys and other necessary items.
Even when spending is down, one area people cannot avoid putting out money is when it comes to their children, especially a new baby. This is why a baby boutique has the potential to be lucrative and can be started in several ways, but you will need to carefully plan your venture before opening up for business.
Babies are delightful creatures and the things they need are just as cute. First and foremost, you will need to gain experience in retail by working for a retailer for a few months or so. Then you need to plan extensively for your store by visiting shops whose format is similar to that you envision to own. Do not forget to take note of what works and what doesn’t. We also suggest that you put the ideas you come up with in writing so you can better organize them in a business plan later.
After your feasibility research, the next thing will be to decide the kind of baby products you want to sell in your boutique. Will it be a one-stop store or a specialized one? Will you offer everything – bath, bedding, feeding, travel accessories, furniture, and toys or will you specialize in any of these? Will it carry high-end products or cater to mass consumers?
Then you have to search for a location suited to the kind of baby boutique you want to put up. Note that if you want to run a boutique or a high-end shop, locate your shop where your target customers would feel comfortable going, in a mall or an independent building.
If you want to set it up downtown, situate it where it will be most accessible to as many shoppers as possible. We also suggest that you search for manufacturers and suppliers from whom you can get supplies. We believe there are several ways to do this.
One is to go to stores and look up for the brands of the merchandise you want to carry. Then you can look for the contact information of the manufacturer in the internet and directories. You can also find names of baby manufacturers and wholesalers in trade publications.
When you have their contact information, you can give them a call so that you can meet with one of their representatives. Don’t forget that you have to register your business name, get a license and tax identification number, enter into a lease with store space owners and enter into contracts with your chosen suppliers.
Then you have to design your boutique to look awesome so as to encourage your target customers to shop in your store. Choose the wall paper, carpet, lighting and decor that would convey the atmosphere you want for your store. Arrange display cases and merchandise in a visually appealing manner.
All these and more are explained in broad details below.
Starting an Online Baby Boutique Business from Home – A Complete Guide
- Industry Overview
You need to understand that this industry is largely made up of specialized clothing retailers that sell a wide range of infant and children’s wears such as dresses, jackets, jumpsuits, sleepwear and more. Supplementary services include basic alterations like hemming, taking in or letting out seams and lengthening or shortening sleeves.
Reports have it that over the five years to 2017, even though macroeconomic growth encouraged shoppers to spend on high-end children’s clothing, a lot of clothing purchases have been captured by industries that directly compete for consumer dollars.
For instance, a massive growth in the number of fixed broadband connections has made online shopping increasingly accessible; this it is believed has cornered demand from brick-and-mortar businesses that operate in the industry. Also we believe that limited consumer leisure time has motivated shoppers to visit department stores or other one-stop-shop businesses in lieu of the specialty retailers that operate in this industry.
You also need to understand that this industry has a medium level of concentration, with the top four players accounting for 45.8% of total industry revenue. We were able to note from our research that the national chains offer a broad range of products at competitive prices, which may pose a threat to new entrants.
We believe that concentration has increased in recent years as major players have opened new stores and merger and acquisition activity has taken place. Also have it in mind that the high cost of starting and maintaining brand affinity is a major threat to entry in this industry.
Just because old players have already built brand names in respective product offerings, new entrants will have to invest money and time in their boutique before consumers will shift away from strong brand names and start buying from them.
Starting a Baby Boutique Business – Market Feasibility and Research
- Demographics and Psychographics
Research has shown that when families are cash-poor, parents are likely to invest more in educational toys, books, games, and interactive toys. Parents who are strapped for cash want to feel as though they have contributed something to the child’s well-being, rather than just to their toy box.
Have it in mind that if you enjoy working with families and children, and also relish the challenge of maintaining a retail business, you may enjoy operating your own baby boutique. You need to know that business management will be a large part of your day, so the person needs to have some solid knowledge or experience in that area.
We believe that your ideal customers in this business will be anyone who is expecting a baby, has a child, or knows somebody with children. We also believe that more profit per item can be made with a more upscale boutique, but a budget friendly store will always be in high demand. Practically the entire world is your potential customer base.
List of Niche ideas in the Baby Boutique Business
Even with the growing consumer spending on baby products and services, the process of launching a successful, baby-focused business is not an easy process. Have it in mind that there are a lot of strategies you can employ to capture your share of the marketplace and steadily grow your business.
The first is to choose a niche in this industry. You could sell organic baby clothing, second-hand baby items or designer baby brands. You need to understand that your niche will determine your target market or target customer.
You can also open a boutique that focuses strictly on baby clothing or one that combines clothing, toys, furniture and other items that children and parents will need. You may even want to combine maternity clothing with baby items in your store.
The Level of Competition in the Baby Boutique Business
You need to understand that this industry is composed of different segments and products such as toys, feeding accessories, wipes, disposable diapers, body care products, soothers etc. We believe that the window for the purchase of baby care products and accessories is rather small, but even with the peculiarities of this industry; the global baby care market is expected to increase its total sales value in the coming years.
Reports have shown that Procter & Gamble (P&G), Kimberly-Clark and Johnson & Johnson are the leading companies in the global baby care market. P&G’s market share of disposable baby diapers, baby wipes and training pants worldwide stood at about 43 percent in 2015, with the company expected to maintain a similar market share up until 2020.
Kimberly-Clark’s market share is also expected to remain constant in the coming years at about 19 percent. In contrast, Johnson & Johnson is expected to see its market share drop, going from an estimate of 22 percent in 2016 to around 18 percent by 2021.
Note that in the United States, private labels are leaders in baby wipes sales, accounting for 38 percent of all sales in the country. Kimberly-Clark’s Huggies Natural Care is the second largest baby wipe brand in the U.S., whereas P&G’s brand, Pampers Sensitive, is the third most popular brand of baby wipes among American consumers with a 13 percent share.
In the baby care and safety accessories segment in the U.S., Munchkin, Dorel Juvenile Group, Summer Infant and Edgewell Personal Care are the top vendors. When it comes to particular products, Johnson’s is the preferred brand for baby oil and baby lotion in about 10 percent of American households, the largest share amongst all brands.
Johnson is also a leader in the baby/children’s shampoo market, as about 10.5 percent of the households in the U.S. stated using Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, and the most popular baby powder brand in the U.S. with nearly 20 percent of the market share.
List of Well-Known Baby Boutique Brands
- Buy buy baby
- Fisher price
- Fawns and Forest
- Baby swag
- Burt’s baby
- Aden and Anais
Reports have it that this industry was one of two specialty retailers to experience growth between 2006 and 2010. But entering the industry poses significant risk to entrepreneurs because of the cyclical nature of fashion. Adequate preparation and planning can limit some of the negatives of operating in the children’s clothing sector. To succeed in this business, you need more than just great designs.
You also need to understand that the income of the surrounding community can affect your boutique greatly. Middle-class communities usually purchase children’s clothes from discount retailers like Target and Wal-Mart. Parents that come from old money usually shop at stores with a little better name recognition, such as The Gap or TJ Maxx. Communities with lots of young, wealthy individuals often shop for high-end children’s clothing, such as Calvin Klein and Jessica McClintock.
Also just like any fashion business, trends in baby’s clothing can come and go in a twinkle of an eye. Animal prints and other designs often fall out of demand due to seasonal changes. This is why ordering too much of one style of baby’s products can lead to low inventory turnover, which might need offering deep discounts to eliminate it from the stockroom.
Have it in mind that achieving a good turnover rate requires a mix of the latest designs and staples of children’s clothing such as light blue, pink and green. Even with the threats and challenges, the baby product industry as the safest specialty clothing industry because every family in the United States will surely need these products. However, entrepreneurs must do their homework before starting a children’s clothing store.
Starting a Baby Boutique from Scratch or Buying a Franchise
Urged on by dreams of a future big money buyout and an undeniable entrepreneurial impulse, a lot of entrepreneurs willing to start a baby boutique are driven to pursue start up strategies. But we strongly believe that a healthier and safer strategy may be to purchase an existing baby boutique business.
Note that existing baby businesses are proven operations with dependable revenue streams. You will also gain the ability to sidestep all of the trial-and-error that comes with baby products and services businesses if you buy a franchise.
You need to understand that starting from the scratch presents a number of challenges, not the least of which is the creation of policies, procedures and workplace routines. We believe that a very good franchisor can arm your start up with the procedural assets it needs to function smoothly from the start of the operation.
With many baby products and services business franchise opportunities to choose from, we suggest you do a very concrete market and Feasibility research to choose a franchise that best suits your dreams.
Possible Challenges and Threats of Starting a Baby Boutique in the United States
Starting a business can be very exciting, especially a business that its demands are not seasonal. A baby boutique is a place where parents and prospective parents can buy clothes, shoes and all sort of children and baby stuffs. We also believe that this type of business needs a moderate capital to set up. The few challenges you may be facing may include;
- Start-up cost
- Business plan
- Marketing plan
- Industry competition
Starting a Baby Boutique Business from Home – Legal Aspect
- Best Legal Entity for a Baby Boutique
Structuring your business as a limited liability company (LLC) ensures your personal assets are protected in the event your business is sued. The advantages of forming an LLC are that the members are afforded limited liability and have pass-through taxes similar to a partnership.
By forming an LLC instead of a corporation, you get all the benefits of forming a corporation but you avoid a few drawbacks that you would run into if you formed a corporation. Specifically, when you form a corporation, you subject yourself to double taxation and excessive paperwork.
Both of those annoyances can be avoided if you form an LLC. The costs of forming an LLC will vary from state to state. In general, you can expect to pay a minimum of between $50 and $500 to form your LLC, and around $100 annually to maintain your LLC. These costs will increase if you hire a lawyer. The standard processing time is approximately two to three weeks. However, many states offer same-day or expedited LLC formation for an extra fee.
Catchy Business Name ideas for a Baby Boutique
- Conquest stores
- Redstone Inc.
- Freshwater Ltd
- Baby stores
- Baby Ventures
You need to understand that insurance can, in a great way, protect your business against lawsuits and financial losses resulting from a number of situations. A customer can fall and injure themselves; property could become damaged or stolen, employees could become injured or sick. Below is the list of insurance needed for a baby boutique;
- Business property insurance
- Business interruption insurance
- Business liability insurance
- Workers compensation insurance
- Vehicle insurance
Intellectual Property Protection
The baby boutique just like any other retail store has intellectual properties to protect and guide. The creation, exploitation and protection of intellectual property (IP) rights are fundamental to the success of most retailers. In the retail industry, intellectual property protection and Trademark are needed to serve as
- Copyright laws
- Brand and image rights
- Protection and registration of designs
- Enforcement and dispute resolution
- Anti-counterfeiting and piracy
- Patents laws
- Trade mark filing and opposition
- Brand audits and watching services
- Securing trademarks and passing off
- Domain name strategies and disputes
- Data and database rights
- Competition law
- Protection of technology and innovation
- Advertising and marketing issues.
Is Professional Certification Needed to Run a Baby Boutique?
We believe that anyone planning to start their own retail businesses or who are currently majoring in marketing or information systems could benefit from earning a retail certificate. These certifications include
- Customer Service and Sales Certification (CSCS)
- Advanced Customer Service and Sales Certification (ACSSC)
- Retail Management Certification (RMC)
- Retail Business Credential (RBC)
Legal Documents Needed to Start and Run a Baby Boutique
Understanding the basic licenses and permits your boutique needs can be very confusing. Every item needs time, energy and paperwork to obtain the proper registrations. But no matter how annoying it becomes, don’t risk your business shutting down before it fully begins. Staring and running a business without the proper licensing is a criminal offense in some states, while others hand out hefty fines. Here are some legal documents needed for a baby boutique…
- Federal tax identification number
- Business license
- Resale certificate
- Business name registration certificate
- Professional license
- Certificate of occupancy
- Insurance certificate
- Alarm system permit
Financing a Baby Boutique in the United States
Reports and research have shown that finance or funding is one of the most challenging issues facing entrepreneurs. To survive in any business industry, you need to identify potential sources of funding, make sure you meet all their requirements, and prepare your applications or pitches to be able to land funding to grow your retail business. The baby boutique business just like all other businesses need adequate funding to succeed. Sources for funds may include;
- Family loans
- Community schemes
- Peer-to-peer loans
- Micro loans
- Angel investors
- Asset-based lending
- Cash advances
- Bank overdrafts
Choosing a Suitable Location for your Baby Boutique
A competitive retail landscape offers a great opportunity if you plan to succeed in this baby products industry. Rent is low, inventory is inexpensive and people continue to buy and spend money – a good recipe for success. We advise you don’t let the lure of low rent tempt you into a lease deal. Note that this can kill your business before it ever gets off the ground.
And don’t let a higher lease or rent payment scare you. If a location truly offers prime foot-traffic, walk-ins and easy access for your customers, it may be well worth the investment. In this context, your lease is simply part of your overall marketing spending to get people in the door. Instead of going solely by price, here are three important factors to consider when choosing a suitable location for your baby boutique.
- How your space can meet your customer’s need
What does your target buyer look like? What do they do? Where do they live, work and play? You need to have a space that’s easy to see and get to. In choosing a location, you need to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and decide what fits in and what doesn’t.
- Freedom to set your own rules
We suggest you get familiar with local laws, zoning ordinances and potential highway or shopping centre construction that might affect you. You also need to consider rules that might inhibit you on everything from signage to your ability to hold special events to operate during certain hours. We believe that the best way to get these questions answered is to get as much information as possible.
- Exposure that will save you advertising dollar
We all can agree that one of the most expensive ways to bring in a new customer is advertising. You need to understand that the benefit of a great location is that you can use what could have been outside marketing or advertising money to fund internal rewards and referral programs — the least expensive way to get repeat business. Every person who enters your store on the basis of location becomes a potential long-term member of your target audience.
Starting an Online Baby Boutique Business – Technical and Manpower Requirements
Customers in the general retail industry always get impatient and frustrated when they have trouble getting served. Even if they buy something, they may leave dissatisfied with the quality of service they received. You need to understand that satisfaction and convenience are very important aspects of starting up and running a retail shop.
Where possible it is important that your customers are supplied with the right accessories to satisfy them in their purchasing process. This means that shopping baskets, trolleys and carrier bags that will enable them to explore your shop and pick up the things they need should always be available for everyone entering the baby boutique.
You also need to employ workers with good interpersonal skills, excellent communication skills and customer based approach to business. You will also need to buy the equipment you will need for your business. A baby boutique just like any other retail business or rather any other boutique will need a similar type of equipment, and they may include;
- Clothing Racks
- Point-of-Sale Solution
- Cash Register
- Pricing Gun
- Display Cases
- Rotating Racks
- Specialty Displays
- Gift wrapping Supplies
- Receipt Paper or Printer
- Shopping Carts or Baskets
- Banners or Flags
- Cleaning Supplies
- Social Media Presence
- eCommerce Site
- Shipping Materials
- Shipping Account
- A Nearby Bank with After-Hours Deposit
- Security System
The Service Process Involved in Running a Baby Boutique Business
Your baby boutique has a number of operational processes that are performed on a continual basis by different members of the store team. The workflow of retail operational processes is fairly similar between different organizations, as companies have shared best practices and experiences over the years.
We believe that knowing and understanding the basic operational processes and workflow of a general retail store can help you to structure operations and lay a concrete foundation for your baby boutique.
It’s the job of a store manager to regularly take stock of the inventory they have at hand including goods on the shelf as well as inventory in storage areas. Managers are required to place orders with suppliers either on a regular basis or when they reach an optimum re-order point for a specific item to ensure their outlets are always fully stocked.
- Handling inventory
We believe that inventory handling duties is a part of everyone’s job in any retail store. Note that handling starts with receiving shipments which includes unpacking boxes, sorting received items, and disposing of boxes and packing materials. Store employees store new inventory items according to company policies — usually following the first in, first out rule — and restock inventory on the shelves whenever it is needed.
- Customer service
You need to understand that customer service is the core element of retail operations, and it is the hook that holds the entire workflow together. Have it in mind that the main purpose of a retail store is to provide an avenue for customers to view, handle and purchase items, which means all activities in a retail store definitely revolve around customer service.
Customer service in a retail store can be broken down into three categories: in-store assistance, transaction processing and handling complaints. In-store assistance involves aiding customers to find what they are looking for without hassle.
Transaction processing includes ringing up transaction totals, accepting payments and packaging items for the customer to take home. Handling complaints includes dealing with product returns; short-change claims, potential issues arising between customers and store staff, and general dissatisfaction with the store’s service or products.
One major component of retail workflow is regularly reporting financial information to the accounting department. Store managers send daily updates to report sales numbers, refunds, lost inventory, hourly payroll data and information on bank deposits before the workflow cycle begins again the next day.
Starting an Online Baby Boutique Business – The Marketing Plan
- Marketing Strategies for a baby boutique
Even during rough times, parents need to continue to purchase “essentials” for their babies and children, but they may cut back on non-essential items. If you want to start a business that caters to parent consumers, stay away from novelty baby items until the economy is stronger. If you are already in business and sales are slumping, consider changing your products or services to roll with the (hard) times. Below are few strategies to market your baby boutique…
- Broadcast Advertising
We believe that the total number of individuals who tune-in to local TV and radio is declining slowly, but broadcast advertising hasn’t disappeared entirely and baby products and services businesses can still use it to their advantage. Broadcast advertising needs businesses to evaluate their target audience’s listening or viewing patterns and then tailor their media purchases to specific media outlets rather than blanketing the geography with brand messaging.
- Staffing Expertise
We believe that an excellent marketing strategy meticulously delegates tasks to capable stakeholders. A lot of business owners simply assume the role of marketer-in-chief, squeezing even more responsibilities into their already packed schedules. But in this industry, a lot of businesses outsource marketing to a professional firm. In addition to delivering a better overall outcome, marketing firms bring an objective perspective to your strategy and key messaging.
- Sorting Negative Publicity
Note that the best time to address your response to negative publicity is before it happens. If you wait until a crisis hits, then it is already too late to control the message. A lot of industry businesses work with consultants to develop a crisis response plan that can be executed on a moment’s notice. Mailing list providers can also provide quick access to accurate mailing lists, an important consideration if your crisis response plan contains a direct mail component.
Strategies for Winning Competitors in the Baby Boutique Business
We strongly believe that competition in the Baby products industry could limit growth opportunities and reduce profitability. To be successful in this business, you must understand and strive to overcome the constant competition that arises every now and then in the industry. Since competition is inevitable in any lucrative industry, you need to outline strategies for the business game – for just the team with the best players win. Below are few strategies to win your competitors…
- Know the competition
- Understand your customers
- Differentiate yourself from your competitors
- Step up your marketing
- Update your image
- Look after your existing customers
- Target new markets
- Explore new markets
- Be the best employer
- Look at the future
Strategies to Boosting Brand Awareness and Creating a Corporate Identity for your Baby Boutique Business
Brand awareness achieves a lot of objectives for any retail business looking to grow sales. A brand awareness campaign needs to be flexible enough to grow with the business and adjust if needed. Ways to promote brand awareness and create a corporate identity in the Baby Boutique industry may include holding an event, exhibiting yourself, sponsor something, create an experiential stunt, take to social media, organize a public relation campaign, invest in promotional merchandise, join forces with other businesses etc.
We also suggest that you cement a good corporate identity through good brand awareness strategies with a little imagination and an understanding of your customer.