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Seven Steps to Setting up your Retail Store

Fri, 11/09/2012 - 4:26pm | by monicadear

Are you ready to make the leap and create your own retail environment? If so, it's time to put in place your plan. Do you have an existing craft or hobby you'd like to find new customers for? Do you have an online business that you want to put into a popup store or brick-and-mortar location? Do you want to work with some partners to put together an online or physical presence to sell beautiful, valuable products?

Here are 7 steps for you to consider:

1) Feasibility: is this really possible for you at this time?

Bureau of Labor Statistics data say that only 34% of startup businesses reach their 10th anniversary, and only 25% of all startup businesses survive 15 years or more.

If you have the drive, determination, chutzpah, managerial skills (or ability to delegate), and excellent customer service, you have a chance to build a lasting service that brings value to your customers. Be brave, but get informed first.

2) Budget: how much can you afford to invest into your retail endeavor?

Your startup costs to sign a lease, decorate, and build inventory for launch can easily take upwards of $50,000. Most business owners go heavily into personal savings, credit, and alternative financing.

Here are the startup costs for a retail store in Austin, Texas. Can you and your family take the risk of paying this much?

3) Customers: who is your target customer?

Who are you looking to sell to? What is their overall demographic profile? If you are doing a physical store, make sure it is located near to where those demographics live. For example, urbanites tend to shop in different areas then seniors or those with young families: if you're offering something to seniors, make sure your store is close to where the seniors shop!

4) Inventory: what exactly will you sell, store, and ship?

What types of inventory will you have available?

  • If your merchandise spoils quickly or needs to be shipped soon after being produced, consider what facilities you'll need for kitchen, food preparation, or manufacturing.
  • If you need cool, dry, or even refrigerated conditions, find out what kind of warehousing or storage options are available in your location.
  • If your goods will be primarily boutique or high-end items, you'll need the appropriate kind of display and stocking facilities.
  • If you're offering bulk products, you'll need plenty of storage.

With such a variety, consider all the variables of the equation including security, insurance, lighting and display, and warehousing or storage.

5) Design: what is the look-and-feel of what you're envisioning?

What kind of interiors do you need (or if it's online-only, what kind of design do you need)? Merchandise that is well-stocked, carefully arrayed, and stacked neatly and invitingly makes a better shopping experience.

If at a physical location, choose display tables, racks, mannequins, or shelving that best shows off your wares. If online, choose excellent photography and detailed, well-lighted shots.

6) Accepting payments through merchant account providers: what you should know.

Expert opinion of the following provided by Implementing a solid payment system gives you a way to accept funds easily and seamlessly from your customers. If the system is straightforward and reduces your headache, and has excellent reporting functions, you'll know at any time how much you have taken in each day. 

Consider a customer engagement platform like Genius from Merchant Warehouse - you'll want to achieve PCI compliance, track any kind of payment (mobile vs. coupon vs. in-store vs. loyalty program and more), easily integrate future technologies, store information in the cloud, and be ready to call up reports based on all of the above variables.

7) Staffing: who will mind the store?

You won't physically be able to do everything and you'll eventually need help, both staff and managers. Who can you bring on board to provide enthusiastic, cheerful, personalized service to your customers? What qualities are important to you when creating the "feel" of your establishment?

What's the 1-year, 2-year, 5-year vision for your business? Build it right the first time. Gather as much information as you can and make as many strategic decisions as possible up-front. While conditions constantly shift and new opportunities arise every day, you still must formulate a vision and a plan, with specific goals, outcomes, and deliverables that help you keep accountable to what you are setting out to build.

Photo by marco1019

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