Tips for Opening a Successful Small Retail Store
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Opening a small retail store — or converting your online business into a brick-and-mortar — requires a lot of heart and dedication. You need to be ready for any obstacle that may come your way and figure out how to tackle it.
Plus, you’re going to invest financial resources and time in the hopes that a solid plan and a great atmosphere will help you build a lasting, well-loved retail business. It’s an exciting milestone with its fair share of uncertainty involved.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to prepare for these potential challenges ahead of time. Here are a few tips on things to think about while opening your small retail store.
Find Out What Licenses You Need
This is one of the more important aspects of opening a retail store – obtaining the correct license. Business licenses are the legal permits that will allow you to operate your retail business without facing possible fees and penalties. Therefore, finding the right one will save you from future headaches.
If you need help finding the right one for your store, find a guide that lays out the steps for you. Whether it’s your first time opening a business or your thirtieth, filling out these forms properly is, from a legal standpoint, one of the most crucial steps to opening your store. Make sure you find the resources to help you if you need them.
Create Your Retail Brand Identity
Your brand identity will drive the vision for your brick-and-mortar retail store. Who are you trying to market to? How do you want those people to feel when they interact with the space? Once you establish what you’re looking to accomplish, you’ll have a clearer idea of how to begin design, inventory, and marketing.
Next, try to think about the physical aspects. Are you thinking of selling a wide variety of products, or do you want to narrow it down into a specific niche? What will your budget be, and how will you stick to it? Keep note of this in a readily accessible document so you can adjust it as your business fluctuates.
Entice Foot Traffic
Many retail stores depend on foot traffic to create a stream of customers. This is especially important in city or downtown settings, where many pedestrians walk around between work and home, for a bite to eat or just to window shop. So how will your new store entice these passersby?
Beautiful window displays, immersive art, and in-store perks — like free samples — are all proven methods for stopping curious customers in their tracks. If your retail business needs to turn on the charm, spend time planning out your window display and in-store experiences to help generate the community business interest you need to grow.
Combine Online and Offline Experiences
An increasing number of shoppers value online ordering options, and small businesses need to determine how to blend eCommerce convenience with the excitement of in-person shopping and discovery.
Though it’s entirely up to you whether you’re opening an e-store or one that’s brick and mortar, combining these can boost your presence in many aspects. Physical and digital commerce have melded in ways that are only going to grow as time goes on.
Small retail stores are accomplishing this by offering in-store or curbside pickup for online orders, using inventory management technology that streamlines online and in-store offerings, and marketing products through social media selling.
Think about this as you’re starting out. Customers love being able to go into your store, but they also love the ease of shopping from their homes. If you’re going to reflect these concepts in your store, research ways to incorporate them while staying within your budget.
Think About How to Merchandise
You might be doing this while following the first and second tips, but it’s important enough to deserve its own section. Though you might have established who you are going to market to, you also need to think about how you will advertise your products. Retail merchandising affects how customers view your product in physical stores and online.
Picture it – you’ve found the perfect carpet for your new home. Unfortunately, it’s pinned under a table and looks like people have stepped on it quite a bit. Are you going to buy the carpet from that store, or will you purchase it online where it’s beautifully displayed and in excellent condition? How you present your products matters!
Opening a Successful Small Retail Store
Opening a small retail store is an incredible achievement. Between developing a brand vision, selecting your inventory, and creating an immersive in-store experience, there’s a lot of creative and analytical work to be done. The end result? A business you can truly feel proud to own.
Evelyn Long is a writer and editor focused on home building and construction. She is the co-founder of Renovated, a web magazine for the home industry.