If you believe some narratives to come out of the pandemic, you’d think that brick and mortar businesses are essentially dead. However, it might surprise you that eCommerce only accounted for 13% of retail sales in the 2nd half of 2021, which was essentially the height of the pandemic. So, while more and more people are shopping online, there is still a place for brick-and-mortar retail businesses.
There are several reasons for this. For one, there’s nothing better than to be able to see and feel a product before making a purchase. You can try clothes on, for example, and get a real sense of something’s actual color and size. In addition, many shoppers prefer dealing with someone in person instead of messaging with an unknown entity that could be located on the other side of the world.
While many businesses went under during the pandemic, there is now an opportunity that you can leverage. Opening a brick-and-mortar business is still a great option, but you have to be smart about it. Nevertheless, you can find success and build the business you’ve always wanted by taking the proper steps. Here is a quick guide to starting a brick-and-mortar business.
1. Have an Idea
While brick-and-mortar as a concept isn’t dead, it’s still more challenging than ever to find success. You can’t do the same old thing and expect the results you may have gotten 10 or 15 years ago. With so much competition from online companies, local markets are small. There may not be room in your area for more than one business that sells the same things. Your idea for a business must have a place in your market and must be potentially attractive to a wide enough customer base to make your business sustainable. It can be a new product, an improvement on an old product, or it could be more about having an attractive brand. Whatever it is, make it unique and make it inviting.
2. Have a Plan
Any potential business needs a business plan. As you develop your project, you can get a realistic sense of whether your business is viable and where you can cut costs or make changes to get a better return on investment. In addition, your business plan will provide you with a guide for running your business. You can map out every aspect of your business, from suppliers to costs, marketing, and shipping. Then, as you launch your business, you can use your plan to keep you on track and prevent you from reacting too strongly to quick success or difficulties. You will also need your business plan to get any government grants or business loans, so it must be well-developed and accurate.
3. Get Your Financing
You need to make sure that you have enough funds to launch your business and keep it running for months afterward. If you don’t have that cushion, you will find yourself in trouble if you don’t reach some of your revenue targets right off the bat. Of course, you can self-finance if you have the savings. However, you may be able to access government funding and business loans to get your business going. There is also the option of finding investors to help you.
4. Get the Right Insurance
Brick and mortar businesses have increased risks when compared to eCommerce ones. For instance, having customers come to your workplace means there is always a chance of getting injured or having their property damaged. Plus, buildings get damaged from the weather, vandalism, or any number of possible calamities. To have the right business owner’s policy, you need to ensure that you are covered for all potential risks your building might face. Include things like commercial property coverage, automobile coverage if you do deliveries and workers’ compensation. Having protection will help you sleep at night, knowing that your business is covered.
5. Location, Location, Location
If your business isn’t located somewhere that’s easy to access, your potential customers will order what they want online from their couches. It would be best if you made sure that you have a central location for your customers and that there is ample parking and access to public transportation. You might find that a mall is a good option. With vacancies rising, you might be able to find an attractive lease rate that works for you. It would help if you also considered crime and other risks that might require additional expenses. For example, you might need a more advanced security system, or you might need to take steps to protect your building from flooding from a nearby river.
Your business will not be successful if nobody knows that it exists. For starters, you need an online presence. At a minimum, have a website that shows off your products and sale prices and a Facebook page. You should be posting content for SEO purposes on your website well in advance of your launch to reap the rewards right away. The key with brick and mortar is getting people through the doors. Offer special prices, family and friends discounts, and referral incentives to get people to come to see what you have to offer. Even if your marketing budget is tight, your launch is the perfect time for a one-time expenditure on mass media advertising, such as local television and radio advertising.
7. Provide Convenience
The reason why eCommerce is so popular is that it is so convenient. You can order something without getting out of your pajamas, and it shows up the next day or soon after. You may not be able to offer every product globally, but you can provide convenience. For one, implement a delivery and curbside pickup program. You can also have an interactive website that makes it easy for customers to see your products’ various sizes, colors, and options. You can also make it simple in your store by having plenty of customer support with informative and interactive displays.
If it’s been your dream to own a brick-and-mortar business of any kind, don’t think that it will never happen. You can find success, but you need to do the work to make it happen. By following these steps, you can start an in-person business and thrive, even in 2022 and beyond.