Is opening a shop your dream? Do you long for the day you’ll have your own business and meet new customers every day? Be prepared for long hours and months of careful preparation before you can get your store up and running. Once you’re established, though, it’ll be a rewarding enterprise.
Here are our top 10 tips for those starting a retail business:
1. Decide on your budget and research the law
How will you finance your business? Consider whether you’ll need a loan, or funding from a partner or investor. You need to know how much money you have for stock, premises, staff, marketing, and branding. Getting realistic figures for all these areas is important at the start of any business.
Create your business plan and factor all your costs into it. What legal rules do you have to follow? For example, you’ll need public liability insurance if you’re opening a shop, and you’ll need to comply with food safety rules if you’re selling foodstuffs.
2. Do your market research
You can’t decide what you’re going to sell, where you’re going to sell it, and how, until you’ve tested the market. There are various ways of doing this – look at statistics for retailers in your sector and anecdotal evidence from retailers in the places where you’re considering opening.
When it comes to choosing your products, you have to ask the question: is there demand? You may wish to get a market research company to test the water for you. It’s also worth researching potential suppliers carefully for cost and quality.
3. Profile your ideal customers
Creating a profile allows you to be focused in your decision-making. You’ll need to think about where they live, what jobs they do, their income and leisure habits, what their problems are, and how your business can solve them. How do they shop? Do your ideal customers like to browse in store, or do they make most of their choices online?
4. Decide whether you’ll need a physical store or be selling solely online
Most retailers use a mixture of the two approaches. Most stores have online versions where customers can order products. Even without a store on a high street, you’ll need to think about product storage and how you’ll get your products to your customers.
5. Decide on a pricing structure and your terms and conditions of sale
You’ll need to work out the cost per item. That includes raw materials, the cost of processing and packaging, staff costs, storage costs, the cost of power to your shop, the cost of business rates, and other business costs. Once you’ve done that, you can work out the mark-up you’ll need per item to make a profit. Don’t forget you need to draw up your terms and conditions of sale.
6. Set up your website
Decide whether you’ll be writing and designing your own website, or whether you’ll call in a web designer and copywriter to give your site a professional polish. Will your designer buy the domain name and host it for you? Is there after-care in their price?
If your site is an e-commerce one rather than just informational, take a look at some of the best-designed sites with good ratings on review sites and find out who created them. There’s nothing more frustrating to customers than an online shopping cart which doesn’t work.
7. Find your premises
Finding the right location for a shop is vital. You’ll need to look at footfall in the area, the mix of other retailers around it, whether there are competitors close by, the kind of building you’re leasing or buying, the cost of the lease or mortgage, and the business rates. Will your premises need major refurbishment?
8. Decide on your branding and how you’ll deal with customers
This isn’t just about signage or letterheads. Your brand should extend from your shop and website, to your business cards and staff uniforms. How will complaints and queries be dealt with? How will your brand be managed on social media? Will you do that in-house or outsource it?
9. Hire staff
Your staff are the first point of contact for your customers – you need people who will become advocates for your business. Selecting the right people is vital. How will your team blend together? It’s important to ensure you have some staff with prior retail experience. They will help you train those who are new to the sector.
10. Decide how you will market your new business
You should have a marketing budget to ensure your retail business is a success. There are various ways you could spend it – advertising in newspapers, in magazines, or on TV and radio, customer promotions, and marketing on social media. It’s important to have a plan, and to decide whether you need external help from a marketing or social media company.
The hard work starts here! Simply-Docs has a range of customisable, ready-to-use documents which will help any retail start-up control their legal costs. They include customisable website terms and conditions, sale and supply of goods agreements, and internet, e-commerce and website agreements.
For more information about our services, contact our friendly team today.