Boutiques and stores are interchangeable terms but both differ a lot. In French, boutique means ‘store’ but its characteristic is a lot different. In the 1960s, boutiques belonged to fashion designers but in 1920, boutiques became popular in Paris, London, and New York. Youths were attracted to boutiques for designer dresses and accessories. It is the place that started a new fashion trend in the 1920s. It was regarded to be a depot between the departmental store and haute couture.
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How is a boutique different than a store?
The obvious difference between boutique and retail stores is the size. The former is relatively small in comparison to huge retail or departmental store. Boutiques are hardly stand-alone facilities, the general occupy a small space within strip plazas or enclosed malls.
Boutiques are privately-owned small shops, which sell specialized products like jewelry, clothes, shoes, watches, and other accessories. Varieties are limited and the boutique owner has to be selective about the products they put on limited display space.
Retail stores are flexible in terms of location and have a huge spaces. They offer an array of goods like clothes, footwear, makeup, food, and even a game zone enclosed within a single facility.
Boutiques fill the retail niche including the best inventory. They always choose to sell in-demand and highly sought products. They always keep up with changing consumer preferences and emerging trends, which the large departmental stores cannot because of high inventory levels.
The rates of products in boutique and retail stores relate directly to their inventory. Retail stores have their own manufacturing lines or may have them mass-produced at wholesale rates. Boutiques place small orders due to space limitations, so they have to sell at high rates than the departmental stores.
Independent boutiques offer unique products not widely available. Fashion is evolving; therefore it is imperative to give new designers a fair chance. Boutiques are always under pressure for exclusivity, so they aim to offer their customers the best product, which is essential as they are competing with nearby departmental stores.
Boutiques are a winner in terms of exceptional customer service. Shopping at the departmental store is impersonal. On the other hand, the boutique staff makes sure that the customer is taken good care of – from the moment he/she enters the door, during, and after purchase. During in-store visits, customers are offered complimentary beverages and even offer hassle-free return services. Unlike a departmental store, the customer service at a boutique store is unbeatable.
The life of a boutique owner depends on their store income and customer relationship. On the other hand, retail stores are operated by managers. If revenue is lost, they hardly care. Owners make a huge difference!