Independent retail store

3 Things You Need to Know Before Starting an Independent Retail Store

If you’re looking to start your own independent retail store, there’s plenty you need to know in order to stand out from the crowds and make your venture a successful one. To do so, you’ll need to beat out big name retailers that might have decades of experience under their belt. Read on to find out my top three tips for succeeding from the start.

Set yourself apart

As an independent retailer, you’re not going to have anywhere near the resources of the big names in your industry. This can be a blessing as well as a curse. In order to appeal to as large an audience as possible, the biggest brands have to make their product and marketing more generic in order to retain mass appeal.

For example, it is no coincidence that the world’s most popular beers (such as Budweiser, Heineken and Carlsberg) are known by most beer drinkers, and as such, they can be marketed across the world, something that may be less likely with a lesser-known product.

Sticking with beer for the moment, the independent Scottish brewing company Brew Dog has taken the opposite approach. They create drinks with distinctive flavors and attention-grabbing names. Their marketing follows suite, and they’ve courted controversy after swearing in the copy on their website, as The Guardian reported.

My advice to any independent retailer is to aim to be the Brew Dog of your industry — stand out in a crowded marketplace and carve out a niche for yourself by offering the kind of character and individuality that big name competitors can’t afford to. This is the best way to draw in a loyal customer base, and can be achieved through your marketing, social media presence and the design of your website and store, as well as how your staff interacts with your customers.

Related: 6 Ways to Create Marketing Demand

Make excellent customer service your priority

No matter what you choose to sell in your independent retail store, a surefire way to set yourself apart from your competition and give yourself the best chance of success is to provide an excellent level of customer service. It doesn’t matter if you sell luxury items at premium prices or everyday products; if your customers have a great experience shopping with you, they’re much more likely to come back.

At the same time, you’re at risk of undoing all of the hard work you’ve put in setting your products and brand apart from the crowd if your customer service staff aren’t friendly and attentive to every customer who steps through your door.

While you’re almost certainly not going to be able to compete with the big name retailers in your industry on price, as an independent retailer, you’re in a better position to offer a more personalized level of customer service. Get this right and your business is sure to succeed.

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Make the most of your online presence

According to the British Retail Consortium’s latest report, online sales represented 21.1 percent of all non-food purchases in the UK during September 2016, which was a 10.2 percent increase on last September’s online sales. This is representative of the continued growth of the online retail sector, with consumers becoming increasingly likely to turn to the internet over brick and mortar locations when they’re looking for their next purchase.

Does this mean you should close your brick and mortar store and focus all of your attention on e-commerce instead? I wouldn’t go that far, but you should ensure you’re making the absolute most of your brand’s online presence so you don’t get left behind in the digital age.

When you’re just starting out, social media can be an incredibly effective tool for growing your business when properly used. As Hootsuite explains in its guide to the benefits of social media for business, it can be an extremely effective way of increasing brand awareness, honing your advertising campaigns and building relationships with your customers.

If your business has been going for a while and you’re seeing good results from your social media activity, you might consider setting up an online store if you haven’t already. While this will require a lot of work up front, it will give you access to a much wider customer base, and with the right digital marketing strategy, you may well find your online sales start to eclipse those made in your physical store.

Focus on these three areas above and you’ll give your independent retail store the best possible chance of succeeding, no matter how competitive your market.

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