online boutique
Lady shopping online. Photo: Pixabay

If you have interest in investing in the fashion business, then starting an online boutique in Uganda maybe a lucrative business idea for you.  In the past, opening a boutique in Uganda seemed like a dream for many aspiring entrepreneurs, but today the internet technologies have made starting and operating boutique easier than before.

In this digital economy, businesses world over are no longer relying on brick and motor stores to sell their products and services. Entrepreneurs are now utilizing the internet to reach customers far beyond where their businesses are located. Clothing businesses are some of the major beneficiaries of this internet trade.

Operating a boutique online comes with a lot of advantages such as low overhead, easy to start, flexibility and one can choose to do dropshipping to avoid the need for a warehouse or renting a commercial working space.

Of course it takes one to be a hard worker with a little-how in order to successfully setup and operate a boutique online. Whether you have done an online business before or you are a total newbie to online entrepreneurship, this post is for you.

In this article, I will take you through all the requirements needed to setup your online clothing store in Uganda. Let’s dive in!

Clothing Industry Overview

According to research conducted by Eurostat, online shopping retail sales (clothing) are expected to grow steadily to $570billion in 2020. The industry experienced an 11% growth in 2018 with online orders increasing by 13% compared to 7% in 2016.

In the recent times, Ugandan entrepreneurs have embraced the new internet technologies and many have opened online stores where they sell their merchandise.

Demographic statistics show that people aged between 18-45 lead the chart of people who purchase clothes and other fashion accessories online. So if you are looking at starting an online boutique, it is very important that you gear your marketing strategy towards reaching people aged 18-45; for they are the major market.

Also read; The Insider Guide To Starting An Online Business In Uganda

Why you should start an online boutique in Uganda

Just like it is happening everywhere in the world, people in Uganda are increasingly becoming  more comfortable purchasing clothes and other fashion access online because of the convenience it comes with, as in most cases the products are delivered to their doorstep. This saves them the stress they go through looking to buy clothes in traditional clothing marketplaces like Owino which are usually too crowded making it hard for one to find an item of their choice.

Although the cost shopping online is often higher due to shipping costs involved, it saves one from the stress of having to go to a conventional clothing store to get what they want. One of the best things about buying clothes online is the buyer always has the opportunity to see details of the product they want to buy from their comfort zone before they can finally make an order.

For entrepreneurs, setting up an online boutique in Uganda is pretty cost effective as you can run the business from your home without the need to pay for a warehouse or commercial working space.

You only need to ensure that you have a professional and well optimized website with a secured payment system, and if you can’t deliver products on your own, engage services of a professional shipping company.

Once your business grows and you gain confidence and reputation from the online community, you will be amazed at how people will patronize your online boutique and the number sales you can generate monthly, especially if you have the right stock that the market demands. You just have to ensure that you deal directly with clothing labels, manufacturers, wholersalers or suppliers. This would enable you get stock at lower prices and resell at competitive prices.

Read; Will Traditional Shops Survive The E-commerce Explosion In Uganda?

Benefits of running an online boutique in Uganda

  • Less capital is required to get started
  • Easy to get started
  • Low overhead costs
  • Flexible location. Can be operated from anywhere.
  • Easy to scale.

Online boutiques / clothing stores in Uganda

Below is a list of some of the popular online boutiques in Uganda

Online Boutique / Clothing store business models

There are mainly five types of online boutique / clothing business models one can start. They include private label clothing, dropshipping, Print-on-demand, clothing line from scratch ( sometimes called custom cut-and-sew) and general clothing store.  Each of these models has cons and pros. Below I briefly describe each model for you so you can decide which one will work for you best.

Clothing store business model #1: Print on demand

Print on demand is the best model to go for when you want to launch an online apparel but with a limited budget. This is a straight forward business model because the only thing you need to do is printing designs on blank versions of products using a digital ink-jet printer.

The best example of this model is Printify. Printify is a very popular print on demand ecommerce website. Customers can choose from the available plain clothing designs and customize them with logos and prints. A local example is Flingfire. Flingfire is Ugandan Irish based clothing startup that specializes in printing hoodies with Uganda specific wordings.

However this model is known to bring low profit margins due to the cost of printing. Therefore if you are looking for a model that would bring you huge profits, I advise you to try a different model.

Clothing store business model #2: A clothing line from scratch

This business model is best for businesses that want to develop their clothing from scratch. Usually it involves manufacturing own products through a partner manufacturing company.

The best thing with this is you can create an online clothing store with outstanding and unique products.

Its drawback lies in the cost of production materials such as fabric. Christina Economou is an example of a brand that uses this business model.

Clothing store business model #3: Private Label Clothing Store Business Model

Here you only focus on a particular product line and then source a manufacturer to make your clothes. In this model, you buy non-branded clothing items and add your label, tag or even a custom design.

Universal Thread is an example of a business using this model. The company mainly deals in women’s lifestyle denim.

Clothing store business model #4: Dropshipping

Dropshipping can be simply understood as a supply chain management method in which the retailer does not keep goods in stock, but instead transfers the customer orders and shipment details to either another retailer, wholesaler or manufacturer who then ships the goods directly to the customer.

Dropshipping is a very budget saving model since you don’t have to deal with purchasing inventory, storing, packing, or shipping.

The most interesting thing about this model is you do not need any capital to get started.

Clothing store business Model #5: General Clothing store

A general clothing store does not focus on any a particular niche. It carries a broad selection fashion accessories including clothes (both for men, women and kids), jewelry, footwear, eyewear etc .

A general clothing store is like Walmart where you sell everything trying to appeal to everyone. However this model is not recommended for starting entrepreneurs, especially to those who have limited capital.

It is a fatal mistake for a starting business to try to appeal to appeal all the masses. You cannot have something for everyone in the beginning. Start small, grow big with time.

Step by step guide to starting an online business in Uganda

Online businesses are increasingly getting more attention than ever before. The ease for starting an online boutique without the need to have a physical commercial working space has made it affordable for entrepreneurs that have interest in fashion business. Below I discuss steps to start an online boutique in Uganda, Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya, South Sudan or anywhere in the world.

Decide what you want to sell

For your online boutique business to be successful, you have to make sales. That is obvious. However before you think of making money, you need to first decide what your boutique will sell. In short, you need to find a niche.

It can be difficult for a starting boutique to try to sell everything that the fashion industry offers. In the early stages of your boutique, it is a wise idea to start small with niche specific products and grow big with time.

For example if you want to sell women’s designer clothes, focus on that and maybe supplement it with jewelry and accessories. Do not muddy your boutique with random and unrelated items.

Once you have identified the broader segment of customers you want to attract, you can now narrow down your audience further. For example If your target market was that of females aged 18-45, you may want to start selling trendy outfits for the 13-19 teen girls. Remember your whole idea is to start small and grow big slowly. If your business becomes a success and you notice a demand for other products, feel free to add them. But for now, just take your time to find out what is a hit on the market…and what is a miss.

Deciding what you want to sell before getting started will help you determine the inventory to keep at hand, what products to promote, who to promote them to, and on top of that, it will help you determine your branding strategy.

Niche ideas In the Clothing Industry

When starting your online boutique, you need to pick a core clothing niche, and then choose 2-3 secondary niches related to the core niche. Below are some common clothing niche types that work best in Uganda.

  • Unisex / General clothing
  • Men’s Clothing
  • Women’s Clothing
  • Children’s Clothing
  • Sports Clothing
  • Newborn and Maternity Clothing
  • African Attires Clothing
  • Luxury clothing
  • Corporate clothing
  • Wedding/ Party clothing
  • Second-hand clothing

Create a business plan

A business plan is the first phase in planning. Whether you want to start a traditional retail shop or an online boutique, there is one thing that all starting businesses need and that is a good business plan.

Think of a business plan as roadmap for your business, clearly outlining your business goals and the steps you will take to achieve those goals.

A business plan is very crucial if you are going to seek for financing or loans from traditional money lenders like banks, credit unions or even individual lenders.

A good business plan should include the following:

  • Executive summary
  • Business / Company description
  • Market overview
  • Marketing strategy
  • Management team
  • Financing

Read;

Choose a name for your Boutique

Your Boutique name is essential as it is a way your business will be identified and represented. Be sure to brainstorm on a name that is brandable and you are comfortable with.

Your boutique name should be cool, unique, easy to pronounce/memorize, trendy and should be acceptable legally. Focus on creating a simple and brandable name that your customers will find memorable.

There are many business name generators out there such as Shopify Business Name Generator, Namestation, Namemesh etc that you can use to come up with a name but you will also need to add your creativity to come up with a super cool name.

The process of picking a good business name can be a daunting task and it will probably take a while. Do not rush, relax and take your time to think. It is all part of the planning process.

Picking a good name for your business is very important. A bad name can hurt your business forever.

After you have chosen a name for your business, hire a graphic designer to create for you a professional and unique brand identity for your business. An online brand identity would consist a logo, business card, profile photos, cover photos, email templates, packaging material etc.

Pick a domain name and register it.

Another important step in setting up your online boutique is selecting the right domain name for your website.

A domain name is simply a web address where customers can find your online store. A domain is your website’s virtual address on the internet. The unique combination of letters and numbers followed by an extension like “.com”, make up the “location” that internet visitors can travel to on their internet browser to find a specific website. A classic example of a domain name is of course “www.ictguy.com”.

Your website domain name is unique, and once you have registered it, no one else can register the same. It is more like your online fingerprint – It is specifically for you. Although other websites may have domains similar to yours, they can never be exactly the same as yours. They can always be differentiated by extensions. For example I may own the domain ictguy.com but someone else owns ictguy.net and another person owns ictguy.org.

However, to get exclusive rights to your domain, you have to register it and renew it annually. Domain renewal fees are usually same as buying fee. For example if you bought a domain at $12, depending on your domain registrant company, you can renew it at the same amount or slightly higher. This now becomes part of website maintenance costs.

Your domain name is very important. It creates an online identity for your website and establishes your business to your website visitors and potential clients while helping you grow your brand.

Choosing a domain name is a very important step towards branding your business. It is a big business decision.  A bad choice of a domain name can hurt your business forever. Choose a domain whose name that relates with your business and possible go for one with a .com extension.

Below are some characteristics of a good domain name:

  • Must be shorter than 15 characters. But below 10 is recommended.
  • Easy to memorize/remember
  • Easy to spell
  • Have a .com extension
  • Descriptive (easy to tell what the business is about by just looking at the name)
  • Don’t include hyphens or numbers
  • Brandable e.g Facebook.com, Instagram.com, Microsoft.com etc

Domain names go for an average of $12 while Uganda’s Country based Top-Level Domains (ccTLD) such as .ug or .co.ug  go for only $25.

Buy web hosting

For your online boutique website to be accessible online, it needs to be stored on a powerful virtual computer called a server. The process of storing your website files on a server is called web hosting.

One great place to host your website is Bluehost or Hostgator. These two hosting companies are reliable, affordable and provide a highly robust environment for business owners to host their websites.

A good web host for beginners goes for an average of $80, paid once per year.

Also read; The Ultimate Guide To Web Hosting In Uganda – Everything You Need To Know

Register your business

Before you start your online boutique, you will need to register your business in order appear legit and authentic among the community that you intend to sell your items to. Once you have picked a perfect name for your boutique, proceed and register your business with relevant authorities.

It very important to have your business registered. Registering your business ensures that you have the required licenses to operate such an online venture, and that you are not breaking any laws of this country such as covertly evading tax. Remember tax evasion is illegal and is punishable by the law if caught.

Running an online boutique doesn’t require special operation licenses, it essentially requires the same licensing as that issued to traditional brick and motor retail boutiques. If you are based in Kampala, you can apply for Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) trading License.

Having your business registered also makes it easier to get financing from investors or business loans from traditional money lenders like banks and credit unions.

You can register your business as a sole proprietorship, Single Member Company (SMC), or a Limited Liability company (LLC).

You may start your business without registering it as a company or acquiring operational licenses but definitely at some point the law of this country will force you to do so. Therefore it is a wise idea to start your business the right way to avoid any problems that may arise in future.

Build a website for your boutique [Online store].

Once your business is registered, build a functional and effective website for you online boutique. If you do not have the skills to create a website on your own, hire a professional developer to develop for you a professional website or can use ready-made ecommerce platforms like Shopify.

What do you think when you walk into a traditional boutique that is cluttered and disorganized? Will you spend your time there shopping or you will immediately take off? The same applies for your online boutique. Nobody would ever want to shop from a website that is a complete mess, that is why It is important that you invest in a compelling website that is well organized and has a good presentation.

Note that it is not just a matter of having any website. Your website should be responsive, compatible to multiple devices, fast, easy to use and above all well optimized to appear in search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo search.

When hiring a web developer, go for one who has a clear understanding of all these. I usually advise my clients to invest in custom built websites that are tailored to their needs as opposed to readymade template websites that are usually poorly coded and have limitations. Go for a website that functions just as your idea.

Having a well-built website is an important factor when it comes to the success of any online business. However be reminded that you won’t get a great website for peanuts. If you need a high quality website, you should be ready to invest what is worth it.

Alternatively you can use readymade ecommerce platforms Shopify. The good news is you don’t have to be an experienced web developer to get professional looking website using shopify.

With SaaS platforms like Shopify, you can build a professional website by taking advantage of their rich features such as drag-and-drop interfaces, mobile optimization, colors, fonts and choose a free theme.

While building your online boutique website, keep in mind your brand identity and your audience. Your website should reflect the type of items you sell. For example if you sell items for male professionals, using pink colors will make you lose some marks.

Ensure that your website is highly user-friendly. Sort and correctly categorize your products so users can easily find them either through search or by browsing categories.

In traditional retail boutiques, customers are able to touch, inspect or even try on before they purchase an item. But when with an online boutique, customers have to rely on photos and product descriptions to ensure they are making the right purchase. It is important to add high quality product images so customers can know what they are buying looks like.

Do not add deceitful images which don’t reflect how the actual product looks like. Using wrong visuals will cause dissatisfaction among your customers and they will bombard you with negative reviews which will affect your business reputation.

When building your website, you will also need to determine how your orders will be shipped, whether you will ship locally or internationally, whether shipping will be free or you will charge a flat rate or your will charge to distance or by weight. Determine whether your customers will be able to choose from several available shipping options or you will offer just one option or local customers can choose to pay cash on delivery.

You will also need to set up your payment processor. Setting up a payment processor allows your customers to pay for the products which have been added to their shopping carts. Most ecommerce platforms come with inbuilt tools for payments and shipping, sometimes including shipping calculators, dropshipping integration and built-in payment processors.

Lastly, make sure that your contact details are strategically featured on your website so that customers can easily reach you just incase they have a problem with their orders or need extra info about your products. Your contact info should include your business phone number, WhatsApp Business number, email address and links to your business’ social media pages. You may even consider adding a live chat support to offer your customers a satisfactory and smooth shopping experience.

Before your website goes live or is launched, test it to ensure it does not have any errors or bugs. Ensure all links are working, no broken images and all features functioning the way they should. Proof read all content on your website to make sure there are no typing errors in your product descriptions. Take time to makes sure your website looks professional (if possible better than for all your local competitors), loads perfectly in all devices and it is easy to navigate through. At this stage, your boutique is ready to be unveiled to the world!

Take note of fake web developers out there who usually hide behind the concept of cheap web design. These people mislead gullible clients with attractive low prices which usually results in clients wasting money on poor quality websites that don’t convert at all.

Check out;

Source Inventory

Once your clothing niche is selected and you have your business plan prepared, you are now getting closer to opening your boutique. However before you launch your business and start making sales, you will be required to find and purchase inventory that will be used to stock your online boutique.

There are several ways to source inventory. The most common way to source to source inventory for your business is by using a wholesaler. You can purchase items in bulk from a wholesaler at low or reduced prices. Typically, the more inventories you buy, the more you save.

You can buy stock from local Indian and Chinese wholesale suppliers in Kampala. These Chinese import stock from abroad countries such as UK, Italy, Turkey, China etc and resell to local retailers at wholesale prices.

Alternatively, if you can afford the cost of shipping, you can also buy stock in bulk from global wholesale marketplaces like Alibaba or Globalsources. These marketplaces have millions of suppliers, wholesalers and manufacturers who sell their merchandize in bulk at very low rates. Most of these sellers are located in China, Turkey, USA and Korea.

While keeping your clothing niche in mind, search for and list down possible wholesalers that you plan to use for your business. Keep track on available items, pricing, minimum order quantity and shipping costs so you can determine which wholesaler will be the best partner to work with.

The best thing with buying from wholesalers is that you usually have control over products as compared to dropshipping. You have more control over shipping your items to customers, and above all you are able to control how your items are packaged and shipped. This offers you a better opportunity to brand your business through packaging.

Register A Merchant Account / Payment Gateways

A merchant account is simply a type of bank account that enables businesses to accept payments via debit or credit cards such Visa, MasterCard, American Express etc. The merchant account is integrated in your website for processing payments instantly. Additionally, setup your website to accept payments via payment gateways such as;

You can also accept payments via offline payment methods like Western Union or MoneGram if your target goes beyond Uganda.

Once your merchant account or payment gateway is setup, contact your web developer to integrate it in your website and you should be able to receive payments once your business website goes live.

Choose only payment methods that work for your customers. For example if your target market is predominantly Ugandan, I would advise you to go for Mobile Money and Credit card payment methods.

However Mobile money should set us the primary payment method because almost everyone in Uganda owns a mobile money account unlike credit/debit cards which are owned by a handful of individuals.

Online payments is still something new in the eyes of Ugandans, and many do not trust online shopping for fear of possible scams while others do not simply understand how online shopping works. In this case, you will need to ensure that you allow customers make orders and pay cash on delivery. Paying cash on delivery should be set as a primary payment method.

Read; Using PayPal In Uganda: Sending, Receiving, Withdraw and Limitations

Create a social media accounts for your business

Social media presence can’t be ignored. Create business accounts/pages on popular social networks that are relevant to your business such as Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube etc

Social media accounts/pages should be create in same name as your business name with matching usernames.

Having an engaging social media presence brings your customers closer and are likely to buy your new arrivals or even recommend them to their friends through social sharing.

Operate your business pages professionally by updating them with only business content. Do not update your business pages with your life unless it is related to fashion.

Lastly, do not buy fake followers. Fake followers are not humans. They are bots…and bots won’t buy from you. Buying fake followers absolutely makes no sense.

Create a blog on your website and share content

Content is King! Every online business should have a blog section on their website. Starting a blog on your website is great way to position yourself as a thought leader in the fashion or clothing industry.

Write customer targeted blog articles in which your personal opinions about fashion, how to guides, fashion tips, fashion trends, what went down at a fashion event, fashion do’s and don’ts, short reports, videos and whitepapers etc

If your blog content is well optimized for search engines like Google, it could bring you lots of traffic on your website that would end up buying your products.

This will not only get your online boutique more exposure (as people will find your product links via your articles) but will also present your brand as a tastemaker within your niche.

Search Engine Optimization is a technical process, and if you don’t know to do it yourself, your webmaster should be able to do it for you.

Start link building

Link building is can be simply understood as the practice of promoting your website by placing your website’s links (hyperlinks) on other people’s websites e.g link can be placed in an article. Link building is part of Search Engine Optimization.

Link building is one of the major factors Google uses to rank websites in Search results. When websites relevant to your business link back to you, Google will recognize your business as an authority and will potentially rank higher in search.

If your website gets a good a ranking position in Google, you are likely to receive higher traffic which can potentially convert into sales.

Link building should be done naturally. Paying to get backlinks violates Google policies and if got offside, your website can penalized i.e banned from Google search. A website that is not accessible in Google is totally useless.

Below are some of the ways to build backlinks for your business website:

  • Partner with fashion influencers that have websites
  • Guest posting
  • Post on forums and social media
  • Signup your business to online business directories
  • Write testimonials for websites you are using
  • Use internal backlinks ie within your blog articles
  • Comment on relevant blog posts
  • Get interviewed by a popular website, radio or TV.

Market your clothing business

Opening your online boutique won’t guarantee you sales, and nobody is going to know about your business unless you tell them about it. You can have the most beautiful and sleekest website in the world filled with super incredible items, but trust me you won’t make any money if nobody knows it exists.

Every business needs to be promoted in order to create awareness among the target market. That is why even world’s biggest brands like Google and Microsoft still advertise their businesses today despite their brands being household names.

If you can’t set aside a small promotional budget for your online boutique, then you shouldn’t be in this. Did you that spending $1 in Facebook advertising can expose your business to up to 4000 people? If you this regularly and your competitors aren’t doing it, then you win the awareness game in your niche.

Promotion doesn’t mean going around social media and dumping your business link everywhere in a spammy manner. It doesn’t mean bombarding your friends with your business pages asking them to follow them or invite their friends to like them.

Spammy advertising is unprofessional, kills your business reputation and makes your business look like a scam. There’s nobody who want to associate with a business that looks like a scam. Just ensure you promote your business in a professional manner.

When it comes to marketing your online boutique, you will need to bear your target audience in mind ie What are they most likely to find appealing?

As a starting point, consider trying the following in your promotion strategy:

  • Advertise your online boutique through social media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat are great platforms to advertise your clothing business. It is free to create business accounts on these platforms and they can be very effective in driving sales especially when you pay to promote your products.
  • Influencer marketing. Pay influencers to showcase your products to your target audience. Influencers may include vloggers and bloggers. These people normally have thousands of followers which will create awareness for your business and uplift your sales.
  • Search engine marketing. Ensure your business is optimized for search engines. Developing a powerful SEO strategy will help your website rank higher in search engine results.
  • Run special deals and offers. For example 2 and get one at half price.
  • Build social sharing around your community, encourage customers to shout about your business on social media using dedicated hashtags just in case they like your products. In a similar way, you can also run competitions which encourage social sharing and engagement with your brand.
  •  Also try Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising, where your adverts are placed in people’s websites and pay every time a user clicks on your them. Google Adwords is a recommended program for this.
  • Partnerships
  • Content marketing
  • Email marketing

Please not shopping can be seasonal. Ensure that you are well prepared in advance by tailoring and offering deals for gift-giving holidays such as Christmas, Father’s day, Mother’s day, Valentine’s day and on annual big sales events such as Boxing day, Cyber Monday and Black Friday

Read;

Factors for the success of your online boutique

In order for you to start attracting buyers or retaining old customers, and retaining loyal customers, here are factors that will determine the success of your online boutique.

By following these strategies, sellers can target customers’ interests through their online store so that their business stands out amongst less savvy merchants.

Engaging Web Design

It doesn’t really matter if you have the best products in your store with the best customer service, but if your boutique’s website design is lousy, trust me your business will be doomed.

 An Great “About Us” Page

This is the most visit page on almost all website. If a visitor goes to your “About Us” page, it means they are interested in your products. What you need to do is clearly describe who you are, what you sell and above all what you offer to clients. If possible, include testimonials, achievements and any kind of social proof such as an award.

A visitor going to your about us page may be an opportunity for you to generate a sale. Make sure your contact info such as email, number and social media links are clear on this page and throughout your website.

Do not pack the about us page with too much information as it can be overwhelming to your store visitors. Keep information clear and easily comprehensible.

Partner with Other Brands.

Establish your reputation by showing the companies you are working with. The companies don’t necessarily have to be on the scale of a Gucci or Nike, but even smaller companies can add a degree of trustworthiness to your business. The more partners you work with, the better. Major companies can be highlighted on the homepage to showcase your reputation…if they are too many, you can display them on a separate webpage.

Offer Excellent Online Support

Your customers need to know they will they will get support when they make a purchase or consulting before they can make a purchase. This can turn potential buyers into loyal and returning customers.

The most comprehensive type of live support is a live support feature which works 24/7. Offering instant live support can increase your website conversion by 10%.

Also offer support via phone, email and phone…and should be instant. Customers hate it they send in their inquiries and they are responded to after ages.

 Advertise on Social Media

Social media is a very powerful way to connect with potential customers in creative, fun and engaging ways. Social media can be anything from a simple facebook post to a Youtube video.

Provide Popular Payment Options

There’s online store that can exist without payments. Offer popular payment options for your customers so they can always decide which one to make purchase with. If you plan to deliver you products in Kampala, Pay cash on delivery should be the first checkout option, followed by Mobile money, credit card and finally paypal (if you have a supported account).

To help make your payment process as easy as possible, follow these tips:

  • Offer multiple payment methods
  • Do not force customers to sign up. Offer option for a customer to checkout as guest.
  • Checkout page should matche the rest of your store
  • Do not redirect customers to external pages
  • Make it easier to fix errors
  • Do not ask unnecessary info
  • Assure buyers that their payment is secured
  • Have clear calls to action
  • Minimize distractions

Create a SEO driven Blog

Running a blog on your website is an opportunity to generate loads of traffic for your store. Publish blog posts that are well optimized for search engines. It can be anything from fashion tips, fashion trends to personal insights about fashion. Blog posts that rank well in search engines encourage people to visit your store and may end up purchasing your products.

Track Analytics and Iterate

You cannot improve your growth strategies without monitoring your progress. Google Analytics is the best tool to track your selling activity and customers’ behavior. The tool provides you with detailed metrics about your store e.g products sales, number of website visits, abandoned carts etc. Start tracking your store metrics from day one so you can know how engage your customers which would encourage more purchases.

Offer Free Shipping.

Every online shopper now expects free shipping. If you can afford free shipping to at least local buyers, your sales can be boosted much more.

Keep an Eye on the Competition

Customers are always looking for lowest prices and best shopping experience. Compare your business with your competitors and ensure that you do what they are doing even in a much better way. For example do they offer free shipping, are there prices lower than yours, do offer a return policy or not? Figuring out what makes your direct competitors more advantageous than you will enable you determine what you need to change about your business to keep loyal and returning customers. Also consider the quality of your competitor’s websites not just what they offer. Their website might be more user-friendly than yours and how it might be attracting customers.

Build an Outreach Network

Growing any business involves more than just your customers. You need to reach out to individuals who can help you more customers within your target audience. Networking with the right and influential people will enable you create buzz around your business and would extend its reach to as many people as possible. Consider working with the following people:

  • Radio/TV presenters
  • Journalists
  • Fashion bloggers
  • Social media influencer
  • Similar entrepreneurs

Use High Resolution Photos.

Humans are visual creatures. They can process images in 1/10 of a second and can understand visual information 60,000 times faster than they would understand words. With this natural tendency towards visuals, product images make a strong, immediate impression on customers. It is therefore important to use clear and high-resolution images that highlight the product’s details to quickly attract customers without losing their attention.

Show your product images in different angels to customers can imagine the item they want to buy and are aware of all its details. If buyers can’t see the product physically, they will feel insecure to buy it. Ensure that you provide them with complete visual understanding of the product.

Encourage social sharing

Create social media buzz around your business by starting a campaign that encourages sharing. For example run a contest where customers can enter tagging their friends or sharing your social media post.

 Offer Generous Refund and Money-Back Guarantee Policies

Buying a product online without a refund policy is risky. Since the customer can’t the product in person, they will assume the product is as described. With the possibility of a product not meeting their standard, most people won’t buy unless they are guaranteed by a return policy. You can build customer trust by offering an honest and generous refund and money back guarantee policies. Allowing a customer to return a product they are not satisfied with shows that you trust yours buyers and want to provide them with value.

A money-back guarantee is very crucial. Give your customers a way to respond in case they change their mind about the product purchased. This does not mean they will always ask for a refund. Obviously, some will, but majority just want to know you have a money back guarantee.

Naturally, people do not take risks, so they would find such a flexible payment policy attractive. As a result, you will get more people to buy your products than you would if you weren’t offering a money back guarantee.

Final thoughts…

So there you are! Now you have everything you need to know to get started. It is seems like too much – and really it is. But with careful planning, strategic financing coupled with hard work, you can successfully start and operate your own online boutique. Take the time to learn about your market, build your brand and stock a collection of high quality products. This will soon lead you on the road to becoming a successful online entrepreneur.

TIP: If you want to learn more about starting any other online business in Uganda, let’s have a one-on-one chat. Call or WhatsApp me at +256797326164. I would love to hear your fears, struggles, progress and success in the comment…and if you this article was helpful for you, please feel free to Buy me a Pizza Here lol.

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