7 reasons why you should open a retail store this year

By Lexie Lu

Opening a retail store can be nerve-wracking for anyone. First, you typically commit to paying on the lease for at least a year at a time. That’s a big chunk of money going out if the store fails miserably. You also must consider factors you might not worry about with an online-only presence, such as hiring employees and purchasing cash registers.

In a look at one small consignment store, Inc. estimated the owner spent about $30,000 in startup costs the first year. This can vary widely based on the type of business, any franchise fees, and even the size of the store and location. For example, if you’re on a tight budget, setting up a kiosk in the local mall might bring your rent down while allowing you to test the local market.

If you’re on the fence about whether or not to open a brick-and-mortar store, here are seven reasons you should take the plunge.

-Find room to grow

The National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates there are around 1 million stores in the U.S. and that retail sales grow by about 4% each year. No matter what type of shop you’re considering, there is likely a niche you can fill that no one else does. Look at what the competitors in your area do well and what areas they are underserving. Find something unique you can offer, such as personalization or a slightly different product. What makes your business stand out from the rest?

-Tap into your passion

People relate to companies that have a purpose. Figure out what your passion is and think about how your store can help with a cause. For example, if you want to assist single moms, you might start a baby supplies store and donate so much from the profit of every sale to a local women’s shelter. You could offer a program where people can turn in their lightly used equipment. Think about how you can make a living while also helping others, and your shop will find a successful niche in your community.

-Gain in-store shoppers

Around 99% of U.S. customers reported shopping in a physical store in the past year. Even though online purchasing has grown in popularity, it still only represents about 10% of retail shopping. You’ll gain more customers in your area by having a retail location.

-Connect on a personal level

Have you ever visited a store or restaurant because you met the owner and liked that person? When people come into your place and meet you or your employees, it’s natural for them to develop a rapport with you. Some things you can do to ensure you make a great first impression include greeting every customer and remembering the first name of your repeat buyers. Have a clean and professional appearance. Go out of your way to help the client make a selection, choose a gift or add accessories to their purchase.

-Create local jobs

Out of all the workers in the United States, around 47.3% are employed by small businesses — or about 59.9 million people. When you open a store in your community, you also offer jobs for citizens in your area. Not only are you creating an opportunity for yourself to make a living, but you’re also helping others. As you make a profit, you can support your community by sponsoring local youth sports leagues and aiding nearby nonprofits.

-Make exchanges easy

If you run a successful online store, adding retail locations may be the next step toward growing your brand. While people don’t mind buying online, a big frustration they often have is an item not fitting correctly or being exactly what they need. If you offer a retail location, you can accept exchanges or allow them to come in and size the item and then order online.

If the buyer knows they can pop into their local store for an easy exchange, they’re much more likely to take a chance and buy from your e-commerce store. Brick-and-mortar and digital retail mesh perfectly together.

-Compete against fewer retailers

The online marketplace is open to anyone in any country who wishes to operate a digital storefront. However, your local community may offer far less competition for consumer dollars. There may not be any other stores like yours, or there may be only a few. You can also choose a site where others aren’t located to minimize competition even further.

Take the leap

This year is an excellent time to open your first storefront. Do your research on the best commercial rent prices in the area, how much foot traffic you can expect and what your competition will be. Look for alternatives such as pop-up shops and kiosks if you’re on a tight budget. With a little planning, you should be able to open a retail location this year and find success.

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Lexie is a freelance designer and writer based in Williamsport, PA. She co-founded the blog, Design Roast, a resource for web designers and marketers, in 2015. She specializes in graphic design, web design, branding, UX design, and mobile app wireframes. She earned her BA from Lycoming College. While not working in her home office, she enjoys walking her goldendoodle, cooking for friends and family, and watching way too much HGTV.

Lexie’s work and writing can be found on well-known sites such as Business.com, Website Magazine, Marketo, and Envato. Feel free to connect with her on Design Roast or via Twitter @lexieludesigner.

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