The retail industry is not for the faint of heart. It can be downright hard work and often requires a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-it-done attitude to achieve success. In an industry prone to challenges, knowing a few key things before getting into retail can make the difference between success and failure.
Here are some tips to help you overcome those challenges and open a successful retail business.
1. Check Your Ego at the Door
There’s no room for a big ego in the retail industry. Don’t open a shoe store because all your friends think you have great taste in shoes. If you let your ego motivate your business decisions, you’re setting yourself up to fail.
Instead, be fully in tune with your customers’ wants and needs, whether they match your own or not. Remember, it’s customer sales that will keep you in business, not your own personal purchases.
Owning a retail business is time-consuming. The store may be open from 10 to 5, but your work doesn’t stop when the doors close. While selecting merchandise is an essential element of the job, there is much more (and often less fun) work necessary to keep your business in the black. Between administrative work, operational procedures and training dependable employees, there is no shortage of crucial behind-the-scenes tasks to keep a retail business running smoothly.
2. Determine Your End Game
Establishing clear long-term goals from the beginning helps to lend focus and direction to your business. Before you open your doors, be crystal clear on your end game for the business. Do you want to have multiple locations in the Tri-State area? Or perhaps you aim to establish your business as a franchise. Consider the bigger picture, and set goals for how you’d like to grow in the first year, five years and decade.
No matter how big you aim to grow, one of the most important considerations is to develop scalable operational procedures from the start. This means letting go of the reigns and trusting your employees instead of spending every day at your store. To be successful, keep your schedule free of the daily grind tasks, such as opening the store and merchandising the sales floor, to allow time for more strategic tasks.
3. Trust Your Technology
Clunky cash registers are obsolete. In our modern business world, efficiency is tightly tethered to the reliability of the technology that supports business. For payment processing, opt for an iPad-based system like QuickBooks Point of Sale powered by Revel Systems.
A sleek, state-of-the-art POS system can be a dependable resource for your store. Inventory tracking, transaction data and reporting options give you the tools to run your business effectively.
Having a good reporting system enables you to determine top-selling items and optimize store offerings to improve long-term sales. Knowing more about your customers’ insights also means you can provide better customer service to them.
The software and hardware you use to power your business is just as critical to your success as your employees. Be sure to vet your options as diligently as you vet potential employees. After all, you business will only be a strong as what supports it.
4. Research Your Target Market
Do market research to determine the most under-retailed markets in your local area, and see if you can expand your reach to attract them. By tweaking your brand messaging and the products slightly, you can attract a much broader customer base who may remain loyal to your brand with a tailored marketing approach.
5. Get Advice From Those Who Have Done It
No matter how much you think you know about running your new business, surrender to the fact that some of your peers know much more that you on certain topics. Enlist these people as trusted advisers and soak up their knowledge and experience like a sponge. Once you’re more established, you might opt to hire a consultant to help navigate the retail world. Though before doing so, determine if this is a good financial move.
Once you open up shop, see our guide to local marketing to drive customers to your doors.