If it has always been a dream of yours to open up a little shop, cafe or bakery, you may be wondering if high street retail is even viable anymore. There has been a massive shift toward online buying in the last ten years. Many big retail brands have vanished from trading altogether. You’re right to be concerned that now may not be the time to move into retail. But if your customer service skill set lies in face-to-face sales, then why not try to develop a business model that works for you?
Small retailers are still hanging on in there. And new small businesses are increasing in number. Shopping centers and local authorities are realising that this type of business is their bread and butter now. They must do more to look after them. This means rental rates are more favourable than in previous boom years. If you find a rental bargain, now could be the time to jump on it. Of course you will have shopfitter costs and stock purchases, so having some capital behind you is a good idea.
This could be where online sales may help. Opening up a website with an online store could go a long way to helping you reap your start up costs more quickly. Starting with a website and then moving into a retail outlet when you have enough capital behind you may be an even better idea. Even if you are planning to open a cafe, you can sell coffee beans and homemade cakes through your website. With some good web design behind you, your website could be turning a profit in no time.
You will need to bring traffic to your website, much as you will need to bring footfall to your retail store in the high street. People need to know you exist, what you do and have a reason to want to give you their money. Social media, search engine optimisation and paid advertising are good ways to get heard online. Once you have established your products, you can create a lot of noise about the grand opening of your retail store. With local online marketing, you may be able to create a good following that will be delighted to meet you in person.
If you are very good at face-to-face customer services, why not get out on the road with your products? You can pitch a stall at local fetes and trade shows. Publicising your movements and blogging about your adventures will help you build a following. You may realise you want a mobile store, utilising a van instead of a permanent high street outlet. Starting small and low-budget online could launch you into bigger things in the real world.
We are still in the midst of tough times. By embracing the world as it is now, we can still carry the weight of more traditional business models and trading styles. Taking a two or three step approach into the depths of high street retailing may be the best option if this is new to you. It’s important to use your strengths in your business. Build your online following, push the local marketing side of things, and you may have a grand opening for all to remember.