Thursday, April 17, 2014

5 Tips For Opening a Successful Store

Opening a retail store can be a great way to sell your own designs (say, bracelet wrap watches and cool fashion accessories?), fashions from other designers, or a combination of both. We had the amazeballs opportunity to open our first retail location in Las Vegas, Nevada in December 2013. Mostly focusing on our wholesale and online channels, we wanted a store front what would allow our business to promote brand recognition and brand exposure. Most people that have worked for a big box retailer know that when you open a new store, you just deal with moving product in and training staff. Most do not realize the amount of planning and little details that go into opening a new store. As a small business owner, opening your own store can set forth several challenges such as construction, product delays, or even lack of planning. It takes a lot of work to open your own retail store and make it a success! The following tips can help your store opening process be a successful one.
The Winky Designs flagship store!


First and foremost, pick a theme for your store. Take your business partner or your team to a local mall to generate and create ideas. There are sometimes hundreds of different stores in a mall; however, to help you narrow down some of the stores, look at stores that carry similar products that you’ll be carrying. Pay close attention to staging products from a visual standpoint: How are their windows set up? What type of fixtures do they have? What type of props and visual displays does every store use? What type of counter will your register be on? While on this journey at the mall, keep your phone charged so that you are able to take pictures, not to copy, but to remember the ideas that you did like. Take notes of stores that you may want to revisit. This team exercise should inspire you to gather ideas, thoughts, and paint a picture on what your future store can look like.
Pick and theme and communicate it throughout the store


As soon as you know what unit or space your business will be occupying, come up with a detailed floor plan. Have a mock floor plan drawn out with spacing, the types of fixtures you have in mind, and a timeline to get these actions done. Give yourself time to compare prices locally and online for fixtures, displays, and hardware. Smaller businesses usually have smaller budgets and look to minimize cost as much as possible. For a small start-up business, a detailed floor plan is very important from a branding perspective. It is important to convey to the customer exactly what your business is about and what you are selling. It may be the only shot to win a customer for life. With no set vision of what your store will look like, it could be confusing to the customer what you are trying to sell in your store and therefore could hinder your potential sales. Having a detailed plan and timeline in place will allow you to be able to react to any other changes that will come up.
Plan your space efficiently to maximize selling


Simple things can add to your space like adding mirrors in your store. If you are working with a small space there are plenty of ways to make a small room appear larger than it really is. Through creative use of mirrors, you can trick the eye into thinking a room is larger, eradicating the claustrophobic or cluttered feel that many small rooms carry. Strategically placed mirrors can brighten a room and brighter rooms are often viewed by the eye as being larger than they really are. Mirrors, especially larger ones, add a sense of depth to a small space, making it appear larger; however, larger or customized mirrors can be quite expensive and can vary anywhere between $300-$900. Using a series of smaller mirrors combined can create the same effect you would get from a larger mirror and will save you a lot of money. Home Depot and Lowe’s have standard size mirrors at great prices, which will allow set up costs to be as minimal as possible.
Adding mirrors opens up the a small space and adds depth


Another way to utilize your wall space is by adding life style photos and posters of the products that you carry in your store. Life style posters are a great way to showcase to the customers how your product will look on a live person. These posters would make a good substitute for a store that doesn't have mannequins.

Most small businesses will only have one person working in the store at a time. Have pricing around the store that can be easily seen and that is type written. Typing out a sign is much more professional than a hand-written one because it is easier to read and has a neater appearance. This will help with indirect customer service when you are busy helping someone else at the moment. 
Signage should match the theme of the store


Buy a cash register to hold money and a merchant account to accept credit card payments at your store. The register should be electronic and able to capture and report a history of your cash sales. Having credit card capability will make it easier for your customers to pay and will keep you from losing sales if you are a cash-only store. There are many pos systems out there; however, Square is one of the more commonly used systems. Square will take credit card transactions through an iPhone, iPad, or Android. Smaller businesses are using Square because it’s cost efficient, simple and easy to use. Square advertises a transaction fee per transaction of 2.75%, however it’s negotiable! Just ask them. Square helps you eliminate receipt clutter and saves you money with printing and receipt paper. Most of all we are doing a good deed saving the environment. Most customers will be ok with “going green” with no tangible receipt printed out, however, there will be “that customer…” (haha), that will demand it. In this circumstance, have a receipt pad available just in case. They are available at Staples or an Office Depot type supply store.
iPads are portable and much less expensive than a traditional POS system

Taking a little bit of time and thinking your plan through before the opening process starts will save you a lot of hassles in the future. Advice for anyone thinking about opening their own store or going to start the process soon, the Winky Designs Team would say, “It’s time…to be prepared and make this store opening a successful one!”
The hard work pays off !

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