Owning and running a small business is far from easy, especially if you are a retailer rather than trade or service provider and living in constant fear of the next big store opening nearby. Yet it doesn’t have to be this way – there are many advantages to being an independent retailer, such as having full control over business practices. Which makes it all the more important to get them right. Here are a few basic pointers that can lead to success.
The most important thing of all is deciding on what you are going to sell and why. Just because you fall in love with a product, does not mean other people will. So use your business head as well as your heart and be realistic about its appeal to the wider world. If you are a specialist shop then you and your staff should know as much as possible about each and every item.
Choosing stock is one thing but getting the quantity right is essential. The last thing you want is to waste your money on rows of duplicate items that end up gathering dust. As a small business you have the advantage of being able to under-buy to trial a product and even get customer feedback on what they would like more or less of.
Presentation is everything, as is personal branding. From décor to labels and bags, website design and shop frontage: continuity is essential and will help leave a mark on customers and passersby alike. Working independently equates to more creative freedom so make use of it and make every detail count.
It goes without saying, but customer service is by far one of the top credentials that people associate with smaller companies. Not just with customers either – it applies to everyone you come into contact with. Suppliers, designers, accountants, solicitors: they are all part of a valuable infrastructure that supports your business and building strong and lasting relationships with them is only ever a good thing.
Whilst customer loyalty is a wonderful thing, you should never rely on word of mouth as your only means of marketing. The Internet lends itself to independent businesses being able to market themselves effectively for little or no money. Social media platforms offer the perfect opportunity for connecting with more potential customers on a personal level, and having your own website with company and product information is a great way to up your sales. Getting listed on Google Maps also allows people easy access to your location, opening hours and direct contact details.
When it comes to choosing the location for your shop, don’t be fooled by the pretence of a cheap lease if it means that people can’t find you. As is the case with so many things, spending a little more on rent in a prime spot almost guarantees a higher turnover than being hidden down an alleyway with no pedestrian traffic. Depending on what you sell, if you find yourself a fair distance from a cash point it may be worth having your own on site ATM. YourCash can supply this for you free of charge if your turnover meets requirements, allowing you to recycle your own cash, save on banking fees, and attract customers into your store.