Starting your own retail business is an exciting new venture for anybody. And, there’s certainly no shortage of options when it comes to things that you can sell. Retail covers a wide variety of different industries, whether you have decided to start a local convenience store, a fashion boutique, pet shop, or anything else. But retail is also a very highly competitive industry and chances are, you’re going to be up against some of the big competitors no matter what kind of shop you want to start. Before you get started, it’s important to consider all the basics that you are going to need in order to provide the best customer experience, start building a strong reputation from the start, and make sure that your business is competitive.

A Prime Location

First of all, you’ll need to think about where your retail store is going to be located. Shopping centres and retail parks are ideal choices since customers go there for the main purpose of spending money. However, the downside to locating your store here is that there’s a bigger chance of competition cropping up. Research any shopping centres that you have in mind and see which other stores are already there. It might be worth going elsewhere if you know that you are going to be located right next door to your biggest competitors and don’t have the resources to do all the work to market your store in spite of them.

You should also consider areas where a certain type of store might be in more demand. For example, if you want to open a local convenience store, look for a residential area that doesn’t already have one. Simply having a convenience store within walking distance of customers’ houses can be great for business. 

Selling Online

You will also need to determine whether or not you are going to be selling online. Some types of retail businesses, like convenience stores, might not need to invest in a full eCommerce experience, but it might be worth considering the option of signing up for a service like Deliveroo or Uber Eats so that customers can get items from your store delivered if they want. On the other hand, other retail businesses like clothing stores or homewares stores will definitely benefit from an eCommerce site. You can easily get started using a UK-based platform, or you can have a developer make an eCommerce site for you, such as UTP. But regardless of whether or not you are selling online, having a website is crucial and will help customers find your business faster.

Taking Payments

You want to encourage your customers to buy as much as possible from your store, so think about how you are going to accept customer payments and the payment methods that you will provide. At the very least, you should accept debit and credit card payments since these are the minimum expected by customers today, who might be put off from shopping at your store if only cash is accepted.

Accepting card payments has plenty of benefits for your business; you can encourage customers to spend more, improve the customer experience in-store, ensure a good reputation and collect customer data for better marketing. You can get started by ordering card machines from UTP Group on this site. UTP Group offers merchant accounts and card readers with plenty of benefits, such as a one-hour processing time, allowing you to access the funds much faster compared to some competitors. In addition, they work with Barclaycard, so you can be sure of a trusted and reliable brand. 

Social Media

Keeping up to date with your customers and interacting with them online is key for almost every type of retail business. Even if you are running a local convenience store, don’t leave customers finding you up to chance – get active on social media groups in the local area and let customers know what you’re about and where to find you. Facebook is an ideal option for many retail businesses since you can create a page, group or both and really interact with your customers, while Twitter is ideal for quick updates and providing fast customer support. Instagram is an ideal option for businesses that sell products that produce great photos; if you’re running a fashion retail business or a home furnishings store, Instagram is a must.

Returns Policies and Procedures

You’ll also need to consider which policies you are going to put in place for your business, especially when it comes to customer returns. When customers purchase from a retail business, they expect to be able to return and get a full refund on any items that are faulty, and in some cases, on items that they have changed their mind about. Failing to offer customer returns can be a big mistake for any retail business since it does not build trust with customers and can leave them feeling dissatisfied, especially if a product they have bought from you is faulty. While you might take as many quality control steps as possible to prevent this scenario, you can’t guarantee it, which is why returns are essential, both in-person and online. If you are also selling online alongside a retail store, you might want to consider offering customers extra convenience by allowing them to bring items that they have purchased online back to the store to return them.

Marketing

You will need to consider how you are going to market your retail business and get it out there in front of potential customers. As mentioned above, social media can be a great marketing tool to use, but it’s worth going even further. For many successful retail businesses, especially those with a physical store, word-of-mouth marketing is key to spreading the word and getting more interest in what you do. You can encourage your satisfied customers to let others know about your business and encourage them to visit by using a referral scheme or a loyalty scheme. For example, when a customer brings somebody else who ends up making a purchase from your store, you could reward them with a money-off voucher or a free product. It’s all about making your customers feel valued and special, and when you do this, they’re more likely to do the bulk of your marketing for you.

Inventory

Last but not least, you will need a way of easily tracking what you have in stock, the number of sales that you are making on certain products, and which products need to be ordered at any given time. A good POS system is an easy way to do this as you can connect it to your tills and card readers, where your inventory will be automatically updated each time a product is sold. This will also allow you to easily track which products are selling well and which aren’t doing so great, making it easier for you to determine where you should invest more money in your product range and which products might be better off discontinued.

Starting a retail store is a very exciting business venture, no matter what you’ve decided to sell. Before you start, make sure that you have got these basics covered so that you can start providing an excellent service to customers straight away.

Terry Clark
Author: Terry Clark

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