If you are thinking about opening a retail business or developing an existing one, it’s important to understand the opportunity and feasibility of doing this and how you can bring any ideas you might have to life. Listed below are some areas you might want to consider:

  • Know Your Budget – It’s important that before you embark on a project to either develop a new retail space or upgrade an existing one you understand how much it is going to cost and to ensure that your budget (with a contingency) can accommodate your plans.
  • Understand the Potential Numbers – In addition to any set up or renovation costs you need to understand all of the costs associated with running the business. For a new business these include rent, rates and utilities, estimated raw material and staffing costs as well as sundry costs like IT services and any rental payments for equipment. For a retail outlet that is having a makeover, costs might include the loss of business whilst you are being refurbished, additional hire charges for any equipment for the new shop or increased staff numbers if required following the changes to your business. It’s therefore essential to create a sales budget based around your breakeven point. Knowing what turnover you need to achieve in your business each week just to cover your costs, is vital.
  • Plan Your Space – The layout of your retail outlet is really important, it not only needs to be logical and customer friendly but it needs to be designed in a way that makes it easy for anyone coming into your business to purchase your products! For your staff the space needs to be laid out in a way that allows them to operate efficiently and safely.
  • Make Sure the Products You Sell Are Profitable – It’s important that you ensure that any products you are selling make the required margins your business needs to sustain a profit, and your selling prices should reflect this. However, they should also be in line with any local competition, your target market and the quality of the products you offer.
  • Create or Review Your Customer Service Plan – The level of customer service you offer will have a huge impact on your success. For a new outlet it’s important that staff understand from day one how they should interact with customers and should be trained in the areas of customer service, product knowledge and selling skills. For an existing business any significant change to the operation provides the perfect opportunity for you to revisit customer service skills with existing members of staff before your business reopens or relaunches.
  • Marketing Your New or Refurbished Retail Business – It’s vital that potential customers become aware of your business and what you offer, pretty much from day one. You will therefore need to engage in a number of local marketing initiatives as well as promotional activity to raise awareness of your business.
  • Finally, Don’t Assume that a Busy Shop is a Profitable Shop – You might be busy but are you actually making any money? In the early days of trading, or following improvements to your retail space, it’s imperative that you keep a track of the following:
    • Customer numbers
    • Average spend per customer
    • Staffing to reflect your pattern of trade
    • Managing your waste and minimising your markdowns
    • Customer feedback, i.e. what are your customer’s telling you about your business?
    • Review your offer to finesse and shape your business for the future. Don’t be afraid to try new things out and seek better ways of operating.
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