First and foremost, starting a new store requires funding. It is hard to say exactly how much funding you will need, but you should plan keeping plenty of capital aside for new products, advertising and unforeseen obstacles. The worst thing you can do is spend most of your capital on initial inventory and leave little funds available for the first year of operations. I don’t personally see how you can open a new retail store for much lower than $50,000 and other business owners often recommend much higher.
One block could literally cost you thousands of dollars. We started a brick and mortar store in the downtown area of our small town and quickly realized we should have located one block over. We let our excitement of opening a store misguide our original plan of opening on the main street. We will likely move once our lease is up, but the location stalled our initial success and will likely be determined as a very costly mistake. For a retail store, the expression Location, Location, Location rings true,
Your point-of-sale system is a key component of your new business. There are many POS systems out there to choose from so do your homework and think about what your needs are. We wanted a strong online presence, so we selected Shopify. Other options we considered were Square, Quickbooks and Clover. Many industries have tailored POS systems for retail stores that could also be beneficial.
A Business Plan
I always make the mistake of not writing an in-depth plan. A business plan isn’t just for possible investors, but also acts as a guide that helps you stick to your original strategy to be successful. Of course, this plan can change along the way. If your business has many investors, employees and board members, a business plan can keep everyone on the same page eliminating confusion.
Retail Layout Planning
There’s an art and science to setting up your retail space. This is one area, I thought we did a pretty good job at. The Shopify blog has an fairly detailed and fascinating article about creating a nice retail space that promotes customer purchases. You should also be familiar with the different floor plans and layouts; Grid, Loop and Free Flow. Choosing one of these layouts will help you plan out the space and fixtures.
Be prepared to continually market and advertise your new business. Keep it up! There’s nothing more detrimental to a business than one that isn’t advertising. Our biggest problem was limiting how much advertising we agreed to. As a new brick and mortar storefront, we were visited by hundreds of eager salespeople from radio stations, newspapers and cable companies vying for our business. It is important to stick to a budget, but don’t shortchange yourself either. Whether your business is starting off slowly or is is jammed packed, you must still maintain the allotted capital for marketing.
With Flashback Gear, a pop culture store, we’re embracing Facebook, sponsorships and radio ads. If you can find a reliable source of advertising that generates business, keep it going. And try not to be afraid to branch out and experiment with other methods. In the beginning, please please please set aside enough funds for advertising.
Your little store will need serious dedication from you and your staff. The first year can be difficult and that is an understatement. Find ways to remain optimistic and persevere. It takes time for people to fit your business into their daily busy schedules. Selling amazing products is not always enough to bring people into the doors. Remaining focused and dedicated will go a long way for being successful long term.
Did we hit on everything you need to know about opening a store? Heck no. Inventory management, business management, store upkeep, data analysis, conversion tracking and so much more are pivotal components of opening a brick and mortar store. We just outlined some of the most essential aspects of your new venture. Good luck!