Online Dog Boutiques – How to Successfully Get Started!

Online dog boutiques have become somewhat of a trend in the past few years. Perhaps this is because of the wide-spread (although somewhat inaccurate) belief that the pet industry is “recession proof”. I consider myself to be an expert on this topic not only due to the fact that I own and operate a successful online dog boutique, but also because I supply product for hundreds of other online dog stores worldwide. On a daily basis, I talk with experienced boutique owners as well as those who are just getting started. In the past few years, specifically, I have noticed a difference between those that survive and those that vanish. In this article, I would like to share some of that experience with you.

In 2009, my company had nearly 2000 people register with us as either brick and mortar stores or online dog boutiques. Sadly, only one year later, I find that roughly 70% are already out of business. So much for “recession proof”, right? Well maybe… Here’s the thing… Most of the “newbies” entering into the online shopping realm for the first time will believe that the way to get started is to build a site and find a number of good suppliers and invest a bunch of time, energy, and money into launching your online boutique. After all, this sounds perfectly logical and 5-6 years ago, I would have thought the same thing. The problem is that the internet is so vast that it is nearly impossible for anyone to find a new website. So, these unsuspecting souls spend thousands on their site only to see a small smattering of sales and the monthly maintenance ends up costing more than the generated profits. Discouraging to say the least.

There is a solution to this problem, however, and those who discover it can survive their freshman and sophomore years. It is so simple, yet so overlooked- proper marketing strategy. Sounds too easy, but it’s true. Most people that start online dog boutiques do so because they love dogs, not because they love their computer! They are usually complete novices to online marketing. But alas, all is not lost. After all, there are hundreds of companies out there that, for a fee of $300 to $2000 per month will “get you to the top of Google”! Boy, I wish I had $5 for every one of those phone calls I’ve received in the past 2 years. What they really should say is, “For about $500 per month, we’ll do some stuff that might get you to page one if we do it for a year or so, but it might not. Oh, and most of the stuff that we’ll do is stuff that you could do for free”!

OK Greg, so now you’re saying that we need to market but what do we do?

Here’s my advice, and since my site ranks #1 or #2 in many keyword searches, I would say that it is sound advice.

If you want to start an online dog boutique, the first thing you should do is bone up on your internet marketing. You can take a class, maybe a few weekend seminars, or you could do what I did and join a mentoring program that allows you to work with top people in the industry on a daily basis. Most likely, none of these options will be free, but if you have an aversion to spending money on education, then you should stick to things that you already know how to do. Plus, educating yourself is far cheaper than paying other companies thousands of dollars for their promises. Now, once you successfully learn effective marketing strategies, then you go and set up your site. You will be able to build and market yourself at the same time and you should plan on putting MORE time into marketing than you put into developing your site.

Following this plan will give your online dog boutique a fighting chance of survival. I hate to see anyone fail or lose money. There’s enough of that going on in the world today, don’t become another statistic.

As always, I wish you the best of success!