Whether you’re launching from scratch, or transitioning an online business into the physical world, that first retail store is a big step. For those without any experience it can be like jumping into a void. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Considering four key questions up front can help make the process much smoother.
Is your business suited to retail?
Have you really thought through the reality of a bricks and mortar store? Unlike an online store, retail premises entail face-to-face contact with customers. You will only make money when the doors are open – unlike online, which is open 24-7 – and the aesthetics of your store, as well as the people you choose to staff it, can have a big impact on whether anyone buys anything.
Are your customers suited to retail?
Are you likely to be able to reach your target market with retail premises? All SME owners know that understanding your target customer is essential when taking that first step towards making a business idea a reality. It’s even more important if you’re investing in opening a retail store. Does your target customer only shop online? Do they live in a different part of the country/the world? Will they only buy products discounted below the price a bricks and mortar store can offer? If the answer to any of these is ‘yes,’ retail premises may not be for you.
Where should you put down roots?
The location of your retail premises will have a big impact on success.
Footfall. Choose somewhere with high footfall and you instantly increase the chances of custom and sales. Not only can you access target customers but you’ll benefit from passing trade too. When you find a location you like, research its viability – how many people walk past it on an hourly basis, what’s the peak time maximum and is there a particular demographic more represented than others.
Convenience. Your store may be convenient for you in terms of getting to work in the mornings but is it on anyone else’s route? There’s no doubt that a convenient location gives you a better chance of being the store of choice over a competitor. How close is the store to public transport, is there parking nearby and is it walkable from a town center?
Product. If your stock is made up of every day items that people regularly purchase then they are unlikely to go out of their way to pick them up. In that case, the ideal location is somewhere like a shopping mall or town center. If you’re selling specialty goods, one off or occasion purchases then you have more scope to locate in an out of the way spot.
Have you thought about customer experience?
Happy customers are repeat customers and brand ambassadors. Creating happy customers depends on customer experience, which is something that you have complete control of in a retail store. Spend some time working out customer experience, in particular three important elements: aesthetics, access and service.
Aesthetics – cleanliness, graphics, visual appeal and comfort all play a part here. Visualize the interior of your store from a customer’s perspective and be sure you have the resources to make it happen 100% before you commit.
Access – make sure that your store is accessible to everyone to give yourself the best chance of success. Platform lifts are simple to install and help to overcome issues presented by stairs, while ramps and handrails instantly increase entrance accessibility.
Service – long till queues, rude staff and being unable to find something will put customers off from buying, or returning. Great service involves staff training, scheduling, careful product placement, as well as research into the customer journey, from entry to exit (hopefully, with purchase).
Opening your first retail premises is a proud moment. With the right preparation it can be the foundation for a bright future too.
Genevieve is the Marketing Co-Ordinator for Gartec Platform Lifts, providing vertical transport solutions for commercial and home