How to start a retail business from scratch
Starting a business can be a scary thing and it does require a lot of planning and hard work but it is extremely rewarding when you achieve your goals. In order to do this there is certain things you need to do and consider so here are some steps you can follow when it comes to setting up your own retail business.
While you may think retail itself is a business sector there are many different types of retail stores you can open, so your first step is choosing which one. The first option is store retailing, this is where the store is mainly focused on attracting high volumes of walk-in customers, they generally have big merchandise displays and use a lot of media advertising to attract people. These type of retailers typically sell to the general public but some do serve business and institutional clients instead. The other option is specialty retailing, this is retail stores that sell wants as opposed to needs. They focus more on the shopping experience and offer merchandise that their target audience don't necessarily need in their everyday lives but will be attracted to and want.
Once you have decided what type of retail store you want to open you need to decide what merchandise you want to sell in it. This is a big decision after all, if you're going to be selling these products and running your business based on them it should be something you have a passion for and are interested in. You should also have a knowledge base on what it is you're going to sell, you don't have to know everything but some basic knowledge will help you when it comes to making decisions as your business progresses. When figuring out what to sell you should look at what hobbies you have and look into whether it could be made into a retail opportunity because if you spend a lot of time doing it, you're likely to know a lot about it. You need to ask yourself whether you can see yourself running a business and selling products based on this idea. If so it's great idea to expand into a business and if not you can look at other things like your current line of work or past experiences and education to help inspire you.
When thinking of a name for your retail store you need to think of something relevant to what you are selling and something that will communicate who you are to everyone who hears it. What you sell should be clearly communicated through your brand name, as you don't want something that makes sense and is clever to you but no one else understands. When choosing a name you also need to consider all of the products that you're going to be selling, because you don't want a name that doesn't represent your whole company as this could limit your product line.
You can just have a brick and mortar store but if you are going to expand so you can reach more customers, you need to establish what channels you are going to use to do this. Customers do expect to be able to get in touch with retailers in more than one way, so opening yourself up to other channels as well could be extremely beneficial to your business. There are so many channels from selling online over a website, to having a mobile app that you don't have to use all of them but it would be a good idea to consider a few.
Once you've done the above steps and figured out the main outline of your business, it's time for you to focus on all of the angles and important areas of your business by writing a business plan. Before you get down to the actual writing side of things you need to do some research and planning as this is what will determine the success of your plan and basically the success of your store. Your business plan should then include; analysis of other business similar to yours that you're going to be competing against, your marketing plan, what you want your customer experience to be like, who you're going to need to employee and what qualities they need to have, a management plan and a financial plan.
Once you've got all of the logistics finalized for your business you'll need to find somewhere to set it up, the location of your store has big impact on it's success. You want to look at a few places and think about where they are before you decide on one, it's surrounding, who is in that area, is your target audience there, are all important factors. Although the location is important, you also do not want to go over your budget to get it so consider all of your options first.
To be successful you have to sell the right products, so locating the best place to get them is extremely important. You need to find vendors who sell appropriate products and form relationships with them. When forming relationships you don't just want to consider the products you'll be buying from them but what policies they have on things like refunds, defective items, payment options, to see if overall they are a good fit for your business.
Hiring staff is so important because you only want people who are going to deliver on your customer experience in an effective way and connect with your customers. Not everyone will have all of the qualities you want in the best employee, but if you can hire people who are willing to learn and have certain qualities that you cannot teach like; a friendly nature, compassionate etc. Then the rest like product knowledge and retail experience you can easily teach.
Before you open your store, you want to be as prepared as possible which means anticipating any problems that could occur and come up with solutions and ways to handle them so you will be prepared. This way you will be less likely to make mistakes or handle particular situations in a better way if you are prepared before you come face to face with them when a customer is there. A good way to do this is to practice with your employees through things like role-play.
When you've done all of the planning, recruited your staff and got your store set up and ready to go you can then think about opening your store. Although you want your store to get loads of customers and be a huge success when you first open, you don't necessarily want this to be your main goal that you set out to achieve by loads of advertising and marketing efforts. Soft opening your store is a great way for new retailers to adjust to managing a store as you open for business, because you do not advertise so you get the chance to practice a bit before you get load of customers coming in. It also gives you the chance to see your store with a few customers in so you can spot any potential problem areas so you can fix them before your big opening.
Once you've conducting your soft opening and spent a few days or even a whole week with your store open you need to make sure that every incentive, sign, sale and product is ready to go and your staff are prepared. You can then market and advertise your store and open it!