Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Tips for a new retail start up ... or to improve an established business

Commercial feature

Dean Beckett, Partner, Edge

The challenges that lead to a successful launch of any retail shop are huge and all must be considered and prioritised.

Relating to independent retailer you must stand out from the multi nationals who have contributed to the demise of the indigenous independent retailers from our villages, towns and cities over many years although fear not as Northern Ireland has many retailers who have succeeded and grown their business in the midst of the larger retailers.

Having the financial resource to support the new business over the first six to 10 months is critical this will allow you to focus on business growth.

The location of the unit needs careful consideration, observe the surrounding area and note the businesses adjacent to your new potential site and see who is creating the most traffic. Ease of nearby parking and considering how deliveries would be made to your shop cannot be ignored.

Once the site is established it is critical that you engage the services of a retail designer and or fit out contractor who have knowledge and expertise in retailing and possibly have completed similar work within your particular sector.

The physicalities of the shop unit start with its exterior, it must be individual and be designed to create a reason for your new guest to enter your and experience what is on offer. The way in which you or your staff greet your guests and the final thank-you all contribute to the experience being one that will be repeated and discussed among their friends and family.

Think about it , when was the last time you were treated like a guest, was it a special occasion and was it in a hotel?, as a potential new retail business or an established one this mind set must be high on your to do list. Treating your next customer as a guest is nowadays a prerequisite.

The mood within your shop should also ensure the guest is not forced to make a purchase but to engage and appreciate the experience being delivered whist browsing. Ease to navigate the shop and feeling relaxed will compel them to revisit. Correct levels of lighting, music (with the appropriate licences), display systems which allow a degree of flexibility to allow for frequent alterations of merchandise , the product is king and should be treated with respect.

Location of the cash and wrap areas and other display hot spots ensure all areas are visited and that every square metre of your shop is contributing to turnover. Signage can be over-looked, it follows the branding of your business and any point of sale signage supplied by a manufacture should complement your own and not look out of place.

Above all, do not forget the cleaning regime, it should cover all areas that your guests may visit while in store, for example if they use of the loo, jazz it up and make it look fantastic.

Branding must transfer seamlessly between in store and on line activities, advances in technology now give you and your staff the option to engage with customers using mobile devices.

Face to face interaction will allow your virtual clients who for whatever reason are browsing online and not in your shop to be reassured that the product you are selling is for them, it also is a great opportunity to cross sell and allowing them to call and collect. This particular medium may not suit all retailers however it shows that service and your experience can maintain and grow sales with the possibility to create a loyal following.

Scents and smells may also play a role, the classic smell of coffee or a roasting chicken in a food store will get most of us salivating and recently certain fashion retailers actively spray their very own branded scent which leaves a message on the nose of the visitor thus creating an experience and an association with the brand.

Get a good designer and a fit out contractor on board at the early stage, believe in yourself and train your enthusiastic staff. Embrace technology that is available to you now, with great products a strong identity and effort your dream can become a thriving business, good luck.

For a free consultation please visit our web site edgedesignfit.com for further information.

Follow EDGE on Twitter @edgedesignfit

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