Checklist for Starting Your Own Retail Business

Starting your own business is a daunting prospect. It comes with many challenges, many of which you will be well aware of to begin with, while others may pop up unexpectedly and cause a few speed bumps in the process. We’re sure you’ve done your homework, but it doesn’t help to keep reading up on tips just to make sure you’re as prepared as you can be.

Of course, there are loads of things that need to be organised before you can open your doors, but we’ve compiled a list of some that are important but easy to overlook.

1. Make sure your systems are up to scratch

There are a number of systems involved with running a business. These include your inventory systems, payment systems, ordering systems etc. Mandoe Media have put together a comprehensive guide starting a retail business using digital signs.

You’ll need to keep an eye on incoming and outgoing inventory. Even small retail businesses should automate between the till and what’s being sold, and your inventory levels and what you have left in stock. This will allow you to use ‘just in time’ ordering to keep your inventory to a minimum without running out.

Meanwhile, up-to-date payment systems are a must in order to facilitate ease of purchase for customers as well as payment to your suppliers. This will mean having to consider EFTPOS and debit systems to keep purchases and sales fast and reliable.

It would also be wise to invest in inventory management software to keep on top of which products are selling out and therefore need replacing faster than others.

2. Keep in touch with your customer base

Your customers are your business’s lifeblood, so it is essential to keep your finger on the pulse and stay up to date with your customers’ attitudes. One of the best ways to do this is to build a good social media profile. This will open up a direct avenue to reach your customers and build relationships with them. By using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even a blog page, you can keep your customers up to date on new products as well as build your brand image. The better your online profile, the more potential customers you can reach.

It may also pay to build a profile of your customers by enrolling them to receive your e-newsletter, develop a customer loyalty scheme, or start rewarding them based on their purchases.

3. Make sure your brick-and-mortar shop is suitable for your business

It probably goes without saying but it’s important that your shop’s capacity for customers and inventory is suited to your business. Not only in terms of floor space and layout, but also in terms of the facilities. Make sure you have made a calculated estimate of how many people are likely to be in your store at any given time, and for how long.

This will help determine the facilities you include in your shop, like toilets, and even retail air conditioning. You want your customers and your employees to be comfortable in your shop, so it is worth looking into suitable commercial air conditioning to make sure you maintain a good indoor temperature.

4. Register a domain name

A big part of establishing a coherent brand is to make sure there is consistency across all your brand material. This means making sure your social media accounts display consistent branding at a visual level, while also making sure your website shares a domain name with your business name. It is a simple and cheap thing to do, but is also easy to overlook.

5. Get as much startup support from family and friends as possible

None of us want to be that annoying person who nags all their friends to help out and buy something, but you’ll probably find people within your close network are more than willing to help you get things up and running. Getting a business off the ground is the hardest part of the journey, so it’s worth swallowing your pride and calling in a few favours.

6. Begin to outsource as soon as you can

In most new businesses the owner starts out as the primary salesperson, usually because investment dollars are prioritised elsewhere. But to grow you’ll need a dedicated salesperson so you can focus on activities other than day-to-day sales. Salespeople are professionals, and likely have ideas to get your product out there that you may not have thought of.

Similarly, it is a good idea to employ a marketing professional. With digital online marketing and social media, increasing brand awareness is more complicated than ever, so it’s best you outsource this job to those who know it best.

The more tips you’re able to account for before opening doors for the first time the better, so hopefully one or more of these ideas can contribute to making your business start with a bang. Good luck!