Do you think you’re ready to open a retail store? That’s great. It means you have a vision, a product in mind, and an image of how your future business looks like. Opening a retail store amidst tons of flourishing e-commerce businesses can be daunting. Not to worry. In this article, I am going to answer the unanswered question of all the times - What Do You Need To Know Before You Open Your Own Retail Store?
While your plan need not be as complex as chess, it is still important to have an idea of how you plan to achieve your business goals. Start with your target audience. To whom are you selling the product? Define your vision. Then think of the ways to market it. Building a brand name is key. Your marketing strategies must concentrate on how to establish the name. What do you want to be known for? Is it the quality that comes with your products or the undivided attention to customers?
The next step is to have a financial plan. Set business goals that define what reasonable profit you can earn after certain intervals of time. Use software goals to budget. Certain tools like Centage have forecasting features. Learn how to use them to optimize your inventory. Finally, decide whether you need employees. Running a one-man/woman mission can mean you miss out on vacations, sleep, or worse-lunch breaks. Hire employees according to estimated customer traffic. Attention to detail will give you an edge over your competitors.
A plan details what must be done. A strategy explains the ‘how’. Let’s start at your store. The design layout of your store is important. Experiment to see where each product must be ideally placed. Create an inviting window-side display. Should the products be placed from front to back according to utility or cost? Or some other factor? You know your store best. The display does not have to be fancy; it must make the shopping experience enjoyable for the customer and profitable for you.
Also, stake out your competitors. The products you sell must make an impression on your customer. Now the digital aspect: social media. Everybody has their noses buried in their phones. So make sure you have a digital presence. Instagram and Facebook have a vast reach, which will help boost your business. But it isn’t wise to purely depend on them as their owners can make drastic changes anytime and are in no way liable to any losses your business may face.
A more dependable form of marketing is email marketing. Continuously develop your mailing list and be consistent in sending your customers updates, offers, or any such relevant information. Another way to boost business is to partner with local communities and host events. You can also partner with stores that share the same client base as yours and offer coupons, goodies, and the like. Finally, if you can spare the time, work the streets with some good ole’ traditional flyers!
Money, Money, Money
Yes, we discussed budgeting and financial forecasting. But what about startup costs? The amount necessary to rent/buy space, order merch, pay employees their salaries, and much more. If you’ve saved up enough money, I salute you. If you’re planning to take a loan, think twice about your financial responsibilities. It’s not worth diving into endless debt for your dream, especially if you have a family to support or any such commitment.
If it’s a partnership, clearly define what kind of partnership it is- general, silent, limited liability, etc. Consult a lawyer to help out with this mumbo-jumbo. Invest in a good interior designer, if your product is personalized-say clothing or footwear. Work with the money you have. You can compromise on space if it leaves you more money for quality merchandise.
NEVER compromise on product quality. Know your limitations and turn them into advantages. Another aspect that requires attention is the pricing. Does your store sell luxury goods? Or day-to-day commodities? Price your product on par with its industrial standard. If the cost of your product mismatches with the amount your clientele is willing to spend, you will most certainly go into loss.
The location of your store is a major success definer. The location must meet your cost requirements yet fit your space requirements, as well as be in the reach of your target audience. Phew! That’s tough criteria to meet. Sadly, there are no shortcuts to this process. You have to keep your eye out for the place that ‘clicks’. Advertise, roam the city, work for your circle, and use every possible connection you have.
All right, you have to keep an eye, an ear, an arm, and possibly a leg out at all times to score your dream place. Address all legal and commercial responsibilities diligently once you find a location. A commercial store has its own set of rules of the establishment.
Do your research about the locality. Comply with any (if any) neighborhood rules in place. Give importance to being within traveling distance of your client base. To finish off, if you may find a place that suits all your requirements except the way you dreamt it to be, don’t be disheartened. Work on making it the store of your dreams.
If your product is something new and is yet to be made aware to customers, you have your hands full of planning advertising campaigns. But if your product is a variant of an existing product, say clothes, how will you stand a class apart from your competitors? The answer is to carve a niche for yourself in the market.
Modern marketing techniques use storytelling as a form of advertising. That makes sense because our brains are hard-wired to remember stories. A Paper boat is a fine example. The company used childhood stories as a way of relating to the masses. While the product is nothing but fruit juice, a product which has about a million variants in the market, its campaign brought huge success. Try to understand what relates your product to your clients. That factor is what helps you in retaining them.
Your network is your net worth - Porter Gale. No words ring truer. Connect with potential clients digitally or through your social circle. Word-of-mouth is more powerful than you think. Build awareness about your product.
If possible, sponsor events, say, college fests that engage a majority of your client base. Market your product there. Develop interactive campaigns. Contact conventions or fairs that will let you rent a space. That will put you within the reach of a wider audience. Get in touch with your customers themselves. Interact and collaborate with them. Customer satisfaction is important. Customer’s happiness and subsequent advertising is a bonus.
We are now at the last, and the least interesting part of the process. The partnership, as mentioned previously, must be defined. Consult a lawyer to draw up the most suitable contract regarding finances, ownership, liability in case of unforeseen calamities, financial loss/gains, tax, etc. Also, look up the necessary permits that you need to obtain before selling. It is a legal offense to trade without the required permits.
Now that I have equipped you with the necessary ammunition, I wish you all the success in the world. Opening a retail store, or any sort of business really, takes a business degree (all right, not always!) and an immense amount of courage. Navigating the waters when no land is in sight takes perseverance. Hopefully, going through this article has given you better know-how of how to open your very own retail store.