E-commerce has taken the world by storm. Not only are many brands setting up websites to sell their wares online, but some businesses have moved entirely online. A large proportion of new businesses are being set up entirely online-only too. It’s not hard to see why. There are so many benefits to an online store: cheap set-up costs, no overheads like rent and bills, and what’s more? Customers have 24-access to your products. But with so many retailers taking their business to the world wide web, there’s something special about ‘real-life’ businesses. Customers are often happier to spend a little more on tangible products that they can touch, try out and get a feel of in the flesh. So here are a few tips for setting up a physical business in the internet age.
The location of your store is perhaps the biggest decision to make when setting up your physical business. After all, if you’re tucked away down a little back alley, you’re not going to get half as many customers as you’ll find if you’re in a nice spot on a busy and bustling high street. Do your research before putting a deposit on a lease or signing any contracts. Find out your customer base: these are the people who are most likely to buy your products. Once you’ve whittled your target audience down to a certain group, find out places that they frequent. Try to get your store in a place that they are likely to pass regularly. Scoop out the competition in the area, too. A rival store is healthy, but locating your store next door to a string of competitors can result in tension and the need to lower your prices significantly to draw customers particularly into your shop.
Work out how much space you’re going to need to efficiently showcase your products, interact with customers and store your stock. Certain retailers find more store space necessary. For example, individuals selling large home appliances. Others, for example, retailers of stationery, books and cards will require significantly less space. When viewing potential retail spaces, ensure that space is appropriate. You don’t want things stockpiled haphazardly as in a jumble sale, but at the same time, you don’t want a vast space with a few, lost-looking products.
The storefront is what is going to catch consumers’ eyes on the high street. You need a sign that will draw them in. Simple signs are often best: a brand name and perhaps a logo will suffice. Crowded, intricate signs with numerous colours will be considered overwhelming. Stick to three colours at most and invest in a good quality sign. This is the face of your business. It needs to look professional and reflect what it is that you are going to be selling.
Once you’ve got your customers through the doors, you want them to stay. Business furnishing doesn’t necessarily connote couches and beds, as you’d imagine with home furniture. You might think that stores are unfurnished, but there’s a surprising amount of work in creating a comfortable, welcoming space, where visitors can browse leisurely. Think about it: you’ll need a cash desk for processing sales. If you’re selling clothes, you’ll need an adequate changing room. For shoes, a seat for trying pairs on. You’ll most likely need some forms of rails, shelves and tables scattered around to display merchandise on. You might think that you can save money and cut corners in this area. After all, the surfaces are covered by the stock, right? Wrong. You don’t want to have to constantly replace broken shelves, splintered cash desks and collapsed rails. This is why it’s so important to invest properly the first time round. Find something that matches the aesthetic of your store. You’ll also want something hard-wearing with colours that won’t transfer onto your stock. This is where powder-coated products come in particularly useful. Powder coating is a way of colouring surfaces with lasting effect and minimal wear, without compromising on brightness or texture. For more information, check out http://www.reliantfinishingsystems.com/powder-coating-equipment/powder-spray-booths/.
You’ll mostly gather customers from the high street. These are often the window shoppers, peeking in to see what the fuss on the storefront is about. Advertising will bring in customers from near and far with intent to buy. Never underestimate its power. Nowadays, there are more advertising options than ever. From traditional leaflets, word of mouth and posters, to shared social media posts and online recommendations. Again, reflect on your target audience. If they’re a group who frequent social media sites and pages, take that route. If they’re more likely to be drawn in by bold posters and coupons, give that a try. It’s all about trial and error. It won’t take you too long to get a feel for what works best in your interests.
Customer service is an element of the shopping experience in which e-commerce alternatives find it difficult to prevail. So embrace this. If you employ staff, make sure that they are friendly, reliable and competent within their roles. A good shop assistant can form relationships with your clients and will keep them returning over and over. Encourage your employees to remember the regulars. If possible, addressing customers on a first-name basis makes them feel special and appreciated. Don’t let the customer service slack as time goes on. Give your staff six monthly reviews to ensure that they stay in check. Offer training programs to build their confidence and sales incentives to push increased sales.
Customers like to feel they’re getting something for nothing. So introduce a loyalty rewards scheme. This can be as simple as a stamp loyalty card at each checkout, building up to a free reward after a certain number of purchases or a certain amount of money spent in the store. The reward doesn’t need to be something too extravagant, anything will be appreciated. A loyalty card will also encourage customers to choose you as their vendor over other competitors.