General Retail Business Issues/Expanding Online


We own a men's clothing boutique in our local mall. We have been open around 8 years and every year we have been more profitable, but with that comes more expenses so we really don't bring home much. We're in a mall and the rent is astronomical but in our city if you aren't in the mall you generally don't last long. I think expanding to Ecommerce and starting a website will help us. I'm at a loss as to how to start this process. Do we need to purchase a whole new inventory exclusively for online sales? Or is there an easy system to use the inventory we have in store that notifies us when it is sold so we can quickly pull it? Most of our wholesalers don't drop deliver to customers directly. We're a boutique so we usually only get 6-8 pieces per style. Also, if there are any common mistakes you see boutique owners make that could be fixed to make more profit I would love to know. We have learned a lot through trial and error but I feel like there is more out there.
Thank you!

Dear Brianna,
E-commerce is no longer just an option, it has to be done. You must sell on your website as there are many customers who want to shop your store when you are not open, or have many other reasons why they would not want to come to the physical store. The only way you can do e-commerce is to have it fully linked to your in store inventory (UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES TRY TO HAVE A SEPARATE INVENTORY). And to have it linked to your store inventory and POS means that you have to do it through your POS providers offering for e-commerce. If you have an old POS or even worse you don't have any, you need to get a modern POS that would handle both store transactions as well as a shopping cart and inventory pick notices from your single inventory file. There are many providers that will handle this, Retail Pro is probably the best solution, but Syncronics or Cam Commerce are also good. You may also find that for certain styles that you predict a good web response you may have to increase your purchase quantities and or ask you suppliers to backstop you with some additional item availability.  Ultimately all you really have to sell is your brand, your service and your point of view for your customer. Good Luck.

General Retail Business Issues

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James E. Dion


Most questions about trends in specialty retail, how customers are changing both in the US and Europe. Demographics for all countries as they relate to retail trends and issues. Store Operations, Buying and Merchandising.


Over 40 years in the retail industry, store level, store manager, buyer, merchandise manager, Vice President.

BS Psychology, MS Psychology, PhD(abd) Industrial Psychology Illinois Institute of Technology

Past/Present Clients
Microsoft, Harley-Davidson, Ritz-Carlton, Hummer, Williams-Sonoma, Ace Hardware, Coleman Spas, Aldo, Intel, Dell, Safeway, New Balance, IBM, Kodak, Bata International, Nortel Networks, Honey Baked Ham Co., Man Alive, Highsmith
B.S Chicago State University M.S. Chicago State University PhD (abd) Illinois Institute of Technology

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