By Jes Egan
Opening up a retail store is really exciting. Selling your product and other supplier's product is a real opportunity and can be lots of fun. There are a number of business related elements to consider when looking to open up your own retail store - here a few just to start.
Location, location, location
Location is key. Consider being in an area where you feel that your key customer segments are but don’t neglect to think about foot traffic as well. You want to be in a position where you may catch people walking past to come in and experience your store and all you have to offer.
When reviewing a new space for your store, think about the layout, where and how you’re going to set it up. Think about what stock you are planning to have and where you may put it. You need to ensure you have enough space for all of your stock but not too much at the same time. Also, keep in mind that your rent on the space tends to be measured by the square metre so if you don’t over stretch yourself getting space that you don’t need or that you can’t use.
How much stock do you need? Do you have a storage space that you can use for excess stock that doesn’t fit on the floor? If you have run your business from an online space in the past you may have an idea of the popular items that you need to have more of. If you are selling other business' stock, consider taking items on consignment or only ordering the bare minimum to begin with to see how they go.
Don’t neglect your online store - many people see items in store and go home and order them online, plus it opens up your potential audience base outside of the area where your store is located. It is vital that you keep your store up-to-date with as much stock and information as possible, it can help build your brand awareness as well as reach.
If you don’t already have an online store, you can have a site custom built for you (which can be fairly pricey) or you can use on of the many eCommerce platforms that are already available to use, with templates, shopping cart functionality and check out facilities already built in. There are many out there, I found Shopify really easy to use.
Negotiate your lease
Leasing a commercial shop space will probably be one of your biggest outgoings, so take the time to think it through because if you find yourself unable to pay the rent it can put your business at risk. Review the average rents in the desired area and work out what is an achievable and reasonable amount to pay. Consider the length of your lease - if you are a startup, a shorter lease could be an option to consider. If the unfortunate thing happens and your business doesn’t go well then you’re not left with a long lease to pay or negotiate your way out of. It also will give you some flexibility if your business needs change and you need to consider a different space. A shorter term lease can cost more (monthly) than a longer one but something that should be considered.
There are many different types of insurance that is needed such as employees liability insurance, public liability, WorkCover etc. Not all insurance companies offer it, a good place to start looking is GIO, AAMI, Allianz or Shop Insurance, Smart Business Insurance just to name a few! Speak to one of their consultants about what you are planning to do and what you will need. They can advise on the correct packages or if a tailored option is more suited to your needs.
Opening a shop is a costly thing to do! It isn’t cheap - you’ll need a certain amount of capital upfront to get it started. Consider things like rent, signage, point of sale systems, fit out, stock, staff, insurance, branding etc. Unless you have access to funds, you’ll need either an investor or a small business loan from a bank and you will most likely need some of your own capital to get started. Generally to get a bank’s financial support, you will need a solid business plan to secure the funding. Some banks' small business departments will help you with this plan. Make sure you don’t forget to account for paying back this loan as part of your plan. Also don’t borrow more than you need as you don’t want to be down the track with a big loan that you can’t pay back. Go and see a financial adviser or small business banker to give you the right advice for your business.
Promote your store! Advertise and market it in the best way that you see fit. Remember social channels are a great way to get your message out there, just remember you don’t need to be on all of them, chose a select few that your customers will relate to and do those ones well. Posters, door drops and offers for the local community are a great way to get your store out there alongside traditional and paid advertising.
There are many fun and exciting aspects to opening a store, the above are just some of the more boring but necessary things to consider on your path to opening something brilliant.
Jes is a ‘practical creative’ and a very busy lady, doing the business in a digital agency, being an artist and an university lecturer. Follow Jes on Instagram.