Retail can be a challenging industry to break into. This is particularly the case with physical retail - setting up an online store can be a lot simpler and more affordable. That said, many customers still enjoy shopping at physical stores and you can still make a lot of money from a physical shop. Below are just some of the main things to consider that will guarantee the success of your store.
What Are You Selling?
This is the most important question to ask yourself. You can’t open a shop without an inventory - this could be anything from clothes to candles to furniture. You’ll need to carefully source your suppliers in order to choose products that are good quality. Alternatively, you may be planning to sell products you’ve made yourself. In either case, you need to be sure that there’s a market for these products and that you can sell them at a price that will make you a profit.
Many shop owners test the waters by starting with an online store or a market stall. That said, if you’re confident that your chosen inventory of products will sell, you may prefer to start with a physical shop.
The location of a store can be instrumental to its success. Your store needs to be located somewhere that is noticeable, accessible and affordable. By using property listing sites online, you can search for a shoplot for rent that ticks these boxes. Quite often the most eye-catching and convenient locations are the most expensive to rent - you may have to settle for a middle ground (somewhere that isn’t too remote but also isn’t too expensive). By taking your time to compare available outlets, you can find one that is most suited to your needs.
The Setup Costs
Setting up a store can initially cost anywhere between £2000 and £100000 depending on the location you choose, your inventory and other factors discussed below. Some people are able to use savings, while others require a loan to afford startup costs. There may even be the option of seeking out money from investors. Work out your initial budget and how you plan to acquire the necessary funds.
The Running Costs
You should also consider the running costs. This could include rent, energy bills, employee wages, maintenance costs and various taxes. Your shop needs to be able to make enough money each month to cover these costs while also giving you enough of a profit to comfortably live on. Consider whether you think this is feasible.
Your Target Market
When deciding your products, your location and your marketing strategy, it’s important to consider exactly who your target market is. You need to be able to appeal to a specific type of customer - doing some market research could be necessary to work out what type of customer you should be selling to and how you can appeal to them. If you’re selling a popular product, you may have to work out a way of distinguishing yourself from competitors. Alternatively, you may have found a niche that no-one else is targeting - just make sure that there’s a large enough local customer base that are interested in this niche.
Branding and Marketing
To attract customers, you’ll need to promote your store. Start by considering your brand - this includes the name of your store, the fonts and the colour schemes. Next, consider what marketing strategies you will use. An eye-catching shop front is the most basic way of pulling in customers. On top of this, you should spend time developing an online presence by designing a website, setting up social media pages and investing in SEO. You may be able to get people excited about the launch of your store by contacting your local newspaper and advertising a launch event. You may also be able to form cross-promotion strategies with other local store owners.
Planning the Layout
The layout of a store is also important. A carefully planned-out layout will encourage customers to browse and buy products. This can only be done once you’ve found a location - once you know the type of space you have to work with, you can start by working out where the checkout will be and how you can orient your inventory around this. When deciding the layout, you should also consider the basic decor. Everything from the colour scheme to the way you use lighting could have an impact on sales. Specialist retail renovation companies can help you with this.
You’ll need to invest in various equipment to help with the operation of your store. A few obvious examples include a cash register, shelves/clothes rails and a computer for your office. Various equipment could be necessary for security such as a safe for keeping cash, a burglar alarm and security cameras. This equipment guide offers a brief summary of some of the things you may need to acquire.
It’s possible to run a shop solo, but if you want to stay open for longer periods and take full advantage of busy periods, you’ll likely need to hire employees to help. There’s a lot to think about when hiring staff - you’ll need to set up a payroll, create rotas, write up contracts and find time to train your staff. Pour some money into advertising vacancies and free up time to read through applications and arrange interviews. A thorough recruitment process will help you to find the best applicants.
The Legal Stuff
As with any business, you need to be aware of regulations and necessary legal precautions. Certain licenses and permits may be needed to sell certain products. If you hire employees, you’ll also need to follow various health and safety laws and take out liability insurance. It’s also necessary that you file your taxes each year - you may want to hire an accountant to help you with this. A legal advisor may be worth hiring to help you understand all of your companies legal obligations, as well as helping you to set up defences against lawsuits such as writing contracts.