Have A Plan

No business, no matter how great the underlying concept, can succeed without a plan.
Before securing funding or renting a space or any other step required to get your retail store off the ground, it’s important to have a business plan in place. This goes beyond the surface level details – “My business will be open seven days a week with an inventory focused on adolescent and young adult women” – in order to truly explain the whats, whens, wheres, whys, and hows of your entire operation.

Writing a business plan should cover all of the major aspects of business development, including details like:

  • An executive summary that explains the overarching goals and objectives of your business.
    A description of your company, including how it will function and what products and services you plan on introducing to the marketplace.
  • An overview of your products, including both a holistic overview as well as any specifically planned SKUs
  • A market analysis that encompasses details of the local metro area, economic trends, retail sales operations, competitor analysis, and any other form of due diligence that may help you better understand your position in the market.
  • An organizational chart summarizing management structure and team member responsibilities
  • Marketing and advertising plans that will be deployed to promote your business
  • Funding expectations, including your initial investment and any other funding you anticipate over the first two to five years of operation
  • Financial statements and projections, including an income statement and balance sheet
  • Any other relevant information, like permits or patents

And there have some point ,you should have that -

1. Choose a Legal Structure for Your Retail Business

Choosing the proper legal organizational structure for your business is one of the most important decisions you will make. While it is possible to change your structure at a later date, it can be a difficult and expensive process. Therefore it's better to make the right decision before you start your own business.

The most common structure is an LLC. While S corps have a lot of traction as well, the LLC is the simplest structure to use.

You will want to incorporate, though, to protect you and your family in the future in case all does not go as planned.

2. Choose a Name

Dreaming up a moniker may come easy for some, but others struggle with the task. Considering the truncated nature of social media and online searches, you want to be careful to select a name that can communicate who you are quickly. Too often, retailers select a name that is clever to them or just a word or their name, but these become difficult for organic search traffic and SEO. The more it takes to explain your name, the more it will cost you to win business online.

Your business name should cleary communicate what you sell. For example, if I were to name my store Hudson's, people would have no idea what I sell or why they should come see me. True you can overcome that, but why pick a name that means you will have to spend lots of time and money "overcoming." It's okay to include the family name in the title if you had a "what." For example, Hudson Tools or Hudson's Hardware. There is some value to a family name, especially in independent retail in smaller communities. Here are some more tips on how to select the right name for your retail business.

3. File for an EIN

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, and is used to identify a business entity. It is required if you have employees in your retail business. It is easy to acquire and can be done on your own here.

4. Determine Your Products or Services

Picking the right merchandise to sell in your store is the perfect balance of art and science. And all products need services to support them whether its repairs or simply gift wrapping, consider what "extras" your store needs to be successful.

Most likely, the products you are selling are baed on the ones you have a passion for and why you are considering retail in the first place. But remember, buying products is 10 percent "eye" and right fit and 90 percent math. Getting it in your store is easy. Getting it out profitably is the hard part.

5. Determine Your Channels

Each way a customer can do business with you is known as a channel. Will you have an online store as well as your brick and mortar store? Will you do catalogue or phone orders? Will you have a mobile app? Retail is an omnichannel world today. Customers expect to be able to engage and buy from a retailer in multiple ways. You must determine in advance what channels you will have for the customer to engage you and weave a consistent brand and culture and experience through all of the channels.

6. Research and Know the Laws

Understand what business licenses and permits you need to obtain by contacting your city, county and state government offices. Before you start your own business, find out what laws govern your type of retail store.

Consider consulting with both a lawyer and an accountant, as each will help you properly organize your business.

7. Define Your Customer Experience

By far, the most important thing you can do is this step. Millennials are telling us they still prefer to shop in a store (63 percent) rather than online. But they demand an experience that is different than what they can get online. They want the experience to be "worth the drive." Too many retail businesses fail because they skip this step. They focus on products and store design and hiring and forget about the experience for a customer.

Defining what you want the experience to be like goes way beyond customer service. In fact, there are a ton of retailers in the graveyard who said customer service was their differentiator. Touting service and experience and delivering them are too very different things. Defining your customer's experience determines the types of products you must have and the types of services you must offer and the type of store design you need and the type of employee you need to deliver it.

8. Write a Business Plan

Plans fail if they are not in writing. Period. But the importance of writing a business plan is in the way it forces you to consider all angles and all areas of your business. It requires that you do extensive research and planning. This is one step you cannot skip. It will take you the longest time to complete, but there is a definite correlation between the success of the store and a well-written business plan.

Here are the key areas your business plan must address:

  • Competitive Analysis (who is already in this business)
  • Marketing Plan
  • Customer Experience
  • Employee Plan (who to recruit and why)
  • Management Plan (hours, policies, etc)
  • Financial Pro-forma (3-5 year projections of your P&L)

9. Find a Location

Where you choose to locate your retail business will have a major impact on everything your shop does. The difference between selecting the wrong location and the right site could be the difference between business failure and success.

There is an old age in retail — location, location, location. It's meant to connote that picking the right location is critical. You must balance the best location with your budget, though. Don't overspend to be in the perfect spot. Before you sign that lease, consider the second best location first.

10. Establish Vendor Relationships

A successful retail business depends greatly on offering the right product, at the right price, at the right time. Therefore, it is paramount to the success of your business to be able to locate the best sources for those products. As you take this step to starting a retail business and decide what products or product lines you would like to sell, it's then time to find places to buy those items at wholesale.

By establishing relationships, I'm referring to selecting vendors who will partner with you. Selling your products is only part of the relationship. Co-op funds, marketing support, returns, handling defective items, credit, and payments terms and dating are all part of what needs to be considered when choosing the right vendors for your store.

11. Define Your Store Polices

The best time to establish policies and procedures for your retail business is during the planning stages. By anticipating problems before you open your doors, you can choose how you'll handle special situations, as well as the normal day to day operations. This helps avoid making mistakes once you're faced with customers.

Spend lots of time training and role-playing with your employees on these policies. Make them fluent so they can deliver the best experience.

12. Craft Your Marketing

Before you open a retail store, start spreading the word. Create a retail marketing plan, brainstorm sales promotion ideas, begin branding and advertising your retail store. Learn how to use loss leaders, media buys and sales events to the benefit of your retail shop.

Your marketing plan should focus your dollars where your customers dwell. For example, for some businesses, social media or Facebook might be where the marketing dollars should be spent. For others, it could be the newspaper or ROP. Everyone will have a great deal for you. All advertisers will tell you they can get you exposure. But what you need is buyers, and that's why you use mediums that your customers do.

13. Recruit the Best Talent

The only way to deliver on customer experience is to have the right talent. With Millennials now making up the largest part of the workforce, this is an even bigger challenge. Hire people who fit your culture. This may mean they don't have a lot of retail experience of product knowledge, but those are things you can teach. Smiling, being magnanimous and compassionate those are traits you cannot train; they must come with the employee.

14. Soft Open

Before you open your store "officially" to the public, conduct a soft opening. A soft opening is when you are open for business, but without announcement to the public. It gives you and your employees a chance to do a "dress rehearsal" before the big day. I recommend at least a week for a soft opening, but take longer if you can. It is invaluable in its ability to flush out potential problem areas and customer experience detractors that you may not have foreseen. Fixing these things now before your grand opening means you are putting your best "face" forward when the marketing kicks in.

15. Grand Opening

Never grand open until you are ready. You only get one chance to make that first impression so make sure all of your employees know how to handle all situations. Nothing annoys a customer more than an undertrained or ill prepared employee. Make sure every incentive, every sale, every sign, every product is ready to go in your store. Staff your store for crowds. It is better to have too many employees in the beginning than not enough. Make sure your employees can tell the "why" story of your store. Why shop with you over everyone else. They could give this commercial to every customer when they first engage your store.

Plan for lots of breaks for your employees. Bring in lunches and dinners so that can focus on your customers. Keep them fresh and motivated. And make sure every customer leaves your store delighted. A delighted customer tells her or his friends and that's the cheapest and best form of advertising available.

And also have some point are given below -

Seek Financing

Unless you have a large amount of money you plan to invest in your retail store, you will likely need to secure outside financing. For most entrepreneurs, this means a small business loan through a bank or brokerage firm.

When seeking a loan, determine exactly how much you will need and how long you will need access to outside funding before a loan will need to be repaid. This should be included in your business plan. Be prepared to discuss specifically how you will use your loan, like inventory purchasing, rent and utilities, or marketing.

In addition, review your credit history so that you can accurately plan for the kind of loan terms to expect. Never sign paperwork without fully understanding repayment options, loan duration, interest rate, and any penalties associated with early or delayed repayment.

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Secure A Proper Space

The place you establish your brick-and-mortar shop can make all the difference. A remote location far outside of town that’s hard to get to will not yield the same results as a desirable spot in the city center; nor will the price tag be similar. When evaluating spaces, be sure to properly consider all factors, including:

  • Size: how much room is adequately needed to display inventory? While a prohibitively small store can limit your options, a space that’s too large will feel empty and awkward.
  • Price per square foot: Ranging anywhere from $10 to $1000 or more depending on your zip code, how much you’re paying for your space is very important. Note that some areas are more expensive than others, and moving as little as one or two blocks can save you thousands on rent.
  • Storage and facilities: Your store is more than just the retail area. In addition to a place to sell your wares, you’ll also require room for dressing rooms, a storage area, an office space, and closets for things like cleaning supplies. If you need special space for shelving or display cases, you’ll need to consider these aspects as well.
  • Renovation requirements or opportunities: Not all spaces will fit your vision. While remodeling is an option, some changes can be extremely costly, adding thousands to your start-up costs. Additionally, some landlords are quite rigid on permissible renovations, so be sure the changes you have in mind fit into your rental contract. Check with your landlord if you’re unsure.
  • Pop-up shops: Since location can be tricky to navigate and securing a space generally requires a long-term commitment bounded by your lease agreement, pop-up retail can be a great alternative. This allows you to test out different locations without the long-term commitment. Think of it as dating your location as opposed to marrying it. It’s also a great practice run for flushing out some of your other retailing operations and merchandising strategies.

Hire A Strong Team

The team at your side can make or break your operations. A good team can assist customers, provide excellent customer service, increase the likelihood of a sale happening, as well as its dollar amount, and build customer loyalty. A bad team can turn customers away by contributing to a poor customer experience, cause revenue losses, and destroy your reputation. It’s a lot easier to hire the right people from the start rather than doing damage control six months from now.

When posting job ads, be explicit about duties and responsibilities, physical requirements, personality traits, and any relevant experience or qualifications. For example, if you are clear that you would like workers with high school diplomas, a positive attitude even under pressure, and the ability to lift up to 50 pounds at a time, you’re less likely to get applicants who are still in class and struggle to pick up a heavy backpack.

Also make sure you post job openings in places your prospective employees are likely to see, like social media ads for young adult employees and LinkedIn posts for experienced professionals.

Hiring is a marathon, not a sprint. Never hire someone with visible red flags just because they are available or eager. Instead, keep interviewing until you find the right fit.
When hiring, consider facets like:

  • Schedule. It’s best to have fewer employees who can work longer hours than a slew of part-time staff members who only come in sporadically. Additionally, employees with many responsibilities may be unavailable when you need coverage.
  • Demeanor. Look for congenial, kind, hardworking, and flexible individuals. These kinds of people are less likely to be rude or inappropriate to customers and will be able to handle high-stress periods.
  • Behavior. While behavioral questions like “when was the last time you dealt with conflict, and how did you cope?” aren’t perfect, they can shed light on workplace attitudes.
  • Gut instinct. Sometimes, your gut can be a help, but don’t let an initial positive impression overshadow potential downsides.


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Ecommerce Solutions

These days, it’s easier than ever for retailers to sell their goods online. Not only is it easier, but it’s practically necessary. 50 percent of consumers expect to buy online and pickup in-store and 73 percent are likely or very likely to visit a local store if the retailer provides product availability information online. Only 36 percent will venture to the physical location if no inventory availability information was available online.

How can you get product availability online in real-time? By making sure your POS system integrates with your ecommerce platform. This connection will allow product information to in sync across both channels.

Additionally, an ecommerce store, paired with your brick-and-mortar stores, allows customers to find you in the digital world and the physical one. It helps create an omnichannel experience for customers that can improve revenues and enhance reach.

Digital Marketing

Opening a store is a good first step, but there’s no guarantee that ‘if you build it, they will come.’ Without a solid approach to marketing, you’ll likely spend your first few months in the business working in a mostly empty store.

Digital marketing is a fast and affordable option that allows you to build a web presence and a social media following of hopefully thousands of potential customers. With an Instagram account, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest you can generate a buzz about your business before you even open your doors. And for more established businesses, it’s a great resource to engage with your customers and keep them informed of any special promotions or general communication that could impact them.

From social media posts to blogs, your digital marketing methods can help you build a long-lasting presence in your community. Think of it as modern-day word-of-mouth advertising that has the potential to reach millions over a very short period of time.

Bottom of the line

To open a retail store, you should first narrow down your target audience. Once you decide who you're selling to and what you're selling to them, start looking for a location and checking off legal requirements. Upon finding a location and fulfilling legal and financial obligations, look at different marketing channels that might work best for your business. Plan a grand opening, and your retail operation will be open for business.


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