Even if the retail industry has become digitized in the past years, customers still choose in-person businesses that offer a unique experience. Simply put, a retail venture purchases products from a wholesaler to sell them.
It’s a far-reaching industry that encompasses everything from home décor to food and auto. Plus, it offers a lot of opportunities to entrepreneurs. However, the industry is also highly competitive, so you have to be willing to take risks. While the business model may seem simple, running a retail store is not a piece of cake.
So instead of jumping right in, you should take the time to prepare yourself for the ride. Keep reading to learn how to start a retail business that stands out from the rest.
Choose a niche
To build a retail business, you must first determine your niche. This will help you define the products you want to sell and develop your marketing strategies. It’s best to select a narrower niche market, as this will make it easier for you to decide what to specialize in. For instance, suppose there are many stores in your area that sell pet products. In that case, you can differentiate yourself by providing organic food options. Here are some recommendations for picking a niche:
- Consider your passions;
- Evaluate potential profits;
- Research competitors;
- Figure out the obstacles you could encounter.
Create a business plan
Any successful business starts with a good plan. No matter how impressive your idea is, it takes more to make your dream come true. A business plan is your physical roadmap that outlines all the steps you must take to run your business effectively. It should include your goals, the ways you plan to achieve them, and a time frame.
Also, make sure to create a concise description of your business and conduct a financial analysis of how much you need to invest in your venture. Think about what products you want to sell, your target market, and how you’ll differentiate your store from competitors.
Your business plan is preliminary, meaning you can always return to it and adjust it accordingly. As you gain more experience, you’ll likely want to update your plan so it can be as effective as possible.
Register your business
Once you’ve created a plan for your business, you can move to the next step – making it official. First, pick a business name – ideally, one that reflects your brand identity and vision and is, of course, available. Next, consider the business’s legal structure, as this determines whether you’ll get any funding, how you’ll handle taxes and the level of legal protection.
There are different legal structures, but the most common ones used in retail are limited liability companies, sole proprietorships and corporations. If you need advice on the legal structures, don’t hesitate to consult an accountant.
In some states, you need a general business licence, while in others, you may also need permits. Thus, check the requirements for the city or county you live in. You may need several retail licences for your field, such as a seller’s permit and a resale certificate. And, of course, you should remember to get business insurance, as this will cover medical bills if someone gets injured on your business property.
According to Personal Injury Claims Care, owners of public spaces have a duty of care they must not breach. In other words, they must ensure the space is free of hazards so that employees and customers are safe. So, besides getting insurance, it’s also imperative to take preventive measures to prevent such disasters. This involves maintaining floors, performing safety inspections, and eliminating clutter, wires, and other things that could lead to an accident.
Pick a location
Deciding where your business will be located can be truly challenging, as there are many things you have to consider. Firstly, you must think about convenience and practicality. Since you’ll have to commute daily to the location, it’s imperative to pick an accessible area that’s not so far from where you live. Another thing to consider is your target audience and where they spend time.
Suppose your business is an upscale boutique. In that case, it’s not a good idea to pick a neighborhood frequented only by students and millennials, as they won’t bring any profit to your business. Instead, you should choose an area with people who have some income to burn. Also, customers should be able to find your business quickly, so it’s best to go for a heavily trafficked area.
Design the space
Once you pick a location for your business, you have to think about how you want the space to look like. Firstly, you need to pick a layout structure – there are many floor plans to choose from, so make sure to research them all and decide which one better fits your needs.
Avoid putting a lot of products right at the entrance and stick only to a few items instead. Considering picking a theme to boost customers’ experience, add the right lighting, and decorate carefully to enhance the aesthetics of your space.
Get people on board
The process can seem quite intimidating if it’s your first time hiring employees. You want to choose dedicated people who’ll be there for the long run. Thus, during the interview, consider their personality too, and not just their experience. While you can provide professional training, you can’t teach someone how to be friendly or reliable, so focus on these aspects too.
You’ll rely on your team to provide top-notch customer service, and if you choose people who lack social skills, they can turn customers away and cause revenue losses. Take your time to find people you can count on instead of hiring someone just because they’re available.
Market your business
You can’t just hope customers will come to you – instead, you should put the hard work in and attract people to your business. You can do that by using effective marketing strategies like SEO, email marketing, social media, and so on. In the beginning, you should build a business website and be active on social media by posting quality content and interacting with people.
You can also collaborate with a local business with a similar target audience. Create a strong brand identity, establish how your venture can meet customers’ expectations and needs, and then create materials that reflect your values and mission.