Retail establishments face a tough time these days. Online super giants make it difficult for mom and pop shops to compete. However, trends toward shopping locally are a positive development for those looking to market their wares in real time.
Still, setting up shop no longer consists of constructing a building, shelving your wares, and hiring on help when you grow large enough. In a digital economy, it's vital to maintain a positive in-person and online presence as well. Here are five factors which can make or break your retail establishment — take careful note, and you'll be on the path to success.
1. Organized Financial Plan
The best business idea in the world will never launch if you fail to have a plan. This involves more than saying, "I want to build widgets." It means writing down how you will finance the machinery to build said widgets, pay the staff to produce them, and package them to sell to customers.
If you've never written a business plan, hop online for guidance. Many templates exist to make your job easier. With a structure in place, you can ensure that you keep your financials, marketing strategies, and legal obligations in order. It’s the building block that the success of your retail store will rest on.
2. Excellent Customer Service
How do you feel when you call a business only to be greeted with an automated phone system impossible to navigate? Or interact with a shopkeeper who treats you as a nuisance? Chances are, not good. Your retail store needs quality customer service representatives.
58% of consumers expressed a willingness to spend more on companies with great customer service. Tapping into this type of brand loyalty can help your retail store take off. Make sure you take time to invest in your employees and create incentives to make every customer interaction a priority.
3. Accessible Location
Where you choose to locate depends upon your business model and your customer base. Trendier retail stores would do well to find an urban area with great foot traffic and visibility. However, if you’re worried about paying the rent in an expensive urban market, looking outside the city limits can help you save money and build a clientele among suburban families.
The best way to strike the right balance is to carefully scout the locations you’re considering. Can customers find parking easily? Is the surrounding area residential or a popular shopping destination? Carefully dig through a lease before you sign and try to weigh the costs against the location’s benefits.
4. Online Presence
In a world where everyone consults Alexa when they have a question, maintaining a positive online presence proves critical. Most people in industrialized nations hop online when they need to research a product or service. If your brand receives horrible reviews online, it's time to take action.
State your corporate mission prominently on social media and advise people of efforts such as switching to renewable energy which can help build your customer base. Address customer concerns with probing questions to learn more, and sincerely address negative experiences with an example of how you’ve remedied the problem.
5. Positive Sensory Experience
Have you ever walked into a shop which looked completely disheveled and immediately walked back out? Many consumers have. Most do not become angry enough to post a negative review, but word-of-mouth can do just as much damage to retail locations.
Most dissatisfied customers simply leave and never come back, but it costs far more to attract new traffic than it does to keep one loyal client. Make sure you spend some time to create a neat and unified visual experience. Then, build on your store’s aesthetic with pleasant — but not overwhelming — scents and soothing music.
Make Your Retail Store a Success
Opening your own shop can give you a sense of freedom like nothing else. By following the steps above, you're sure to set yourself up for success.
SmartBiz Loans has worked with many small business owners who have a retail location. Read stories of their success here:
- Tasteful Additions: An SBA Loan is Fueling Growth for this Small Business
- Wicked Chicken Business Story
- Painting with a Twist