Opening your own store is an exciting achievement, especially if it’s related to something that you’re passionate and enthusiastic about. After securing a location, decorating and bringing your stock in, there are some more things that you’ll need to consider to get your store ready for opening. Take a look at the handy list below and make sure you cover all bases to get your fantastic new store up and running.
#1: Basic considerations and logistics
While it’s likely you’ll have thought of most of the basics before you open, it doesn’t hurt to check things over in case some of the seemingly obvious points get overlooked.
This is hopefully something that you’ve thought of already, but it’s worth doing a final assessment of your store to ensure that people with access needs, mothers with prams can all move about your store without any issues. You can find relevant guidelines online, or you can plan for someone to come and visit your store in advance to check that it is accessible.
Your store may look great with bare walls and carpet, but could the look of your products change under your store lighting? Dark and gloomy lighting may be a great idea for younger shoppers, but older shoppers will certainly want to be able to see what they’re looking at and see it clearly. There are a lot of interesting insights into the importance of lighting in retail for you to read, and they’re worth taking a look at when designing the inside of your store. Having eco-friendly lighting should also be a key consideration, as green policies are popular with consumers.
The layout is very important to your store to make sure that your customers can find things easily as well as to make it pleasing to the eye. The layout is also important for sales. There is a lot of research that proves that the layout of a store can help to boost sales. When customers enter a store, they will have a certain path in mind to help them navigate it and decide which order they want to shop in, with the preference to move counterclockwise when they walk in. If you want to attract people to buy higher priced items, it’s an idea to put these at the front of your store, so that people will have to pass them to get to the lower priced items. It’s a good idea to visit stores that are similar to yours or that you are familiar with and analyze the way that you walk around it to give you an idea of what typical consumers think when they walk in the door.
The pricing and labeling
When browsing items, one of the first things a customer will want to know is how much something is. It’s important that you make this as clear and obvious as possible, as being asked constantly how much something is will be a headache for you and your staff. Not being able to see a price can be a reason why someone chooses not to make a purchase, which could cost your business money. Choose the best pricing and labeling solutions to suit your needs. Some products, like homeware or food items, can benefit from using price guns and date stamps, while items such as clothing will need to print labels attached by label guns that will benefit your returns policy as well as give you space to add key details about the product that customers will find useful. You can pick up a range of pricing and labeling options from americanpricemark.com that will help you find the right solutions for your store. Pricing your products in store rather than at the manufacturer level will mean that you can manage sudden changes easily, as well as allow for sale days and discounts.
Launching your own store will be a fantastic personal achievement, but it’ll fail quickly if nobody knows about it! Marketing is a very important way to raise awareness of your store before it launches, as well as to raise continued awareness once you’ve opened. Read tips from fellow store owners about how they market their stores to get inspiration for different things you can try.
Advertising is an essential part of marketing your store, and depending on how wide a net you want to case, can be quite cost effective if you take advantage of ad space deals and aren’t particularly precious about when your ads will drop, you’ll have an opportunity to reach a lot of people through newspapers, magazines and even local TV and radio.
Flyers may seem a bit old-school, but if you’re a small business in one particular area, they could help you raise a lot of awareness. Flyers that advertise some sort of deal or that serve as a coupon are a great way to get people to take notice and stop them from throwing them straight in the trash. Make sure you include all of the key details like your name and location, contact details and an indication of what your store is about and what it sells. You can always hand them to customers with their shopping once you open to encourage them to come back and take advantage of other offers.
Social media is one of the best and free things you can use to promote your business. It’s easy to get started, and you can use some basic tips and tricks to get your business’ social media up and running. Make sure that you not only use your social media accounts to promote your business but to engage with your customers and local community too. Take the time to engage in the conversation and people will be far more likely to respond to your business. Once you become more familiar with the initial principles, you can use paid-for social media advertisements that will make it easy for you to target customers in your local area or your demographic to generate further interest around your business.
Press and publicity
This may not be a suitable route for everyone but if you have a good story to go behind your store, why you set it up or why it’s unique – you could try going down the publicity route to encourage the press to promote your store. With the rise of online publications, you could find this an easier task than you might have imagined, and the coverage you generate could also be pushed through social media. Make sure you have relevant information to hand, as the best chance of getting some publicity will be for stories where journalists won’t have to do much digging to write their article.
People are another important consideration when it comes to your business, regarding both staff, and those who walk through your door. There are some things you may wish to consider that might already be on your radar, but could always do with a second glance.
Depending on the size of your store, you’ll need some extra hands to help you out. Even if your plan is to be a lone worker, you’ll need to think of options for busy periods like Christmas, as well as what happens if you’re sick or need to take a break. Hire staff who are personable and like dealing with people – this is very important in the retail world. Pick those with experience if you can or choose people who are willing to learn the tricks of the trade.
Customer service is a key thing for retailers, and it can be the difference between a glowing review and people avoiding your store. Having a policy in place before you begin to deal with disputes, returns and exchanges will be a big help when dealing with tricky customers, although you should always try to be as helpful and understanding as possible. Good customer service goes a long way, and good examples of it will keep people coming back through your door.
Taking your store online is quite simple to set up, but it will take a lot of work and more staff to run both at the same time. One way to cut the workload at the beginning could be to use your website as a catalog of your products, allowing people to place orders over the phone while you develop a more sophisticated online ordering system, and have the resources to deal with the extra business.
Need some further advice about setting up a small business? Why not take some time to consider the various expenses you may need to account for when you’re setting up to make sure nothing’s missed. While there are a lot of things to plan for and remember, setting up your own store will be a fantastic venture, allowing you to be your own boss and take ownership of something great. We wish you the best of luck for it; we’re sure you’ll be a great success!