In 2021, the number of newly-opened retail stores in the U.S. surpassed the number of closed stores. This is after a year of crisis during the 2020 pandemic where almost all big and small retailers focused on online selling. These numbers only show that retail is alive and well, and if you’re planning on opening a shop on your own, the market is ripe and ready. However, there are a few steps you need to complete to best prepare your store for the grand opening. Keep reading to learn how to start a retail store from scratch and set it up for major success from the get-go.
Define Your Business Model
Before you start a store, define your business model. Retail is more than just selling stuff — it’s paying attention to details, knowing your target customers, and developing strategies to boost sales.
You can define your business model in your business plan and outline all the information like pricing, sales and loyalty cards, marketing budgets, working with influencers, working hours, special events, and customer relations.
Find a Retail Location
Location, location, location is the most important thing to set up your store for success. It can make or break your business and help you take your store to the next level.
When choosing a location for their first store, most business owners try to save a little money and go for a location that’s cheaper and maybe a short walk from the main retail buzz. However, this can be a costly mistake, especially if competition is tight.
Try to find a location that’ll attract your competitors’ customers and one that’s easily accessible both by car and on foot. This way, all customers can visit your store and come back with friends.
Order Store Supplies
The next essential step is getting the store supplies, which include the items you’ll be selling, store shelving units, cleaning supplies, lighting fixtures, cash register, wall paint, decor items, and furniture.
You should also order supplies for your employees and customers as well. These include customer cards, employee cards and uniforms, office supplies, breakroom supplies, and electronics.
Finally, you need to order store signage for the exterior and interior of the store, as well as promotional materials like business cards, brochures, flyers, pens, and sale banners.
Design Your Retail Store Display
Your retail display is one of the most important things for a great shopping experience. Customers love shopping from a well-designed, clean, bright, and well-stocked store. They’ll be inclined to spend more time and money in your store if they can find everything easily and there’s enough space for everyone to move around.
To improve your customers’ shopping experience, try interactive retail displays that customers can use to learn more about a product. You can even show the customers how the display works, which will build trust and a personalized experience.
Consider Customer Behavior
Though each and every customer is an individual, everyone behaves similarly when shopping. Take this into consideration when setting up your store interior, interactive displays, and store window. You should also predict foot traffic flow to optimize your customers’ movement in the store.
Observe your customers during the day and see where they go first when they enter the store. Do most of them move to the left, the right, or the center of the store? Where do you want them to go first? Do they stay in one place longer than the rest?
For example, the entry to your store should be open and display-free to help the customer get a feel of the store. Then, you can display your bestsellers on a small display unit to invite the customer to look.
Since most customers will automatically go to the right side of the store, this is where you want to use interactive displays, your best products, and more expensive items.
The customer will move counter-clockwise, so don’t place any obstacles in their way and place the cash register near the door or to the left side of the store. You want customers to have an uninterrupted path to browse so you can maximize their buying potential.
Make Sure Your Store Is Easily Accessible
Store accessibility is essential for happy and loyal customers from day one. Depending on your store location and layout, make sure you have assigned parking spaces, ramps for wheelchairs and scooters, as well as accessible elevators, fitting rooms, and restrooms.
You can plan your accessibility features when designing your store layout. Another way to make your shop more accessible is to make your website accessible as well so customers can find all the information they need before they even come to the store.
The ADA has a handy checklist on making your store accessible that you can follow to make sure it’s a comfortable place for all.
Use Smart Product Positioning
Also, make your store displays interactive and easy to update so customers don’t get bored. For instance, place all your bestsellers on a visible, easily accessible spot. You can also use a cross-merchandising strategy by placing different products together on the same shelf or unit.
Here’s an example: if you have a grocery store, place snacks, dips, and sodas on one shelf. You can even name it ‘All you need for a movie night at home’. If you sell clothes, you can make ready-to-wear combos, and depending on the items, name the display ‘A Night On The Town’, ‘After-Work Lounging’, or ‘Casual Essentials’.
This is one of the best ways to stimulate sales and make customers buy multiple units even if they didn’t plan on it. Don’t do this too often though, so you don’t disrupt the customer flow and experience in the store.
These Tips Will Teach You How To Start a Retail Store the Simple Way
Whether you’re a first-time business owner or have some sales experience, these tips will help you learn how to start a retail store and make it a favorite shopping spot for your customers.
After opening your store, it’s time to attract customers and give them a shopping experience they’ll never forget. Read this article to learn the ins and outs of stellar customer experience and how to make a personalized customer service plan.