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starting a retail business

Everything You’ll Need to Start Your Retail Business

Retail business is one of the oldest types of business on Earth. Anytime you buy wholesale and sell at a profit, you have a retail business. There are, generally speaking, seven different types of retail business:

  1. Department store
  2. Supermarket
  3. Warehouse retailer
  4. Specialty retailer
  5. E-commerce
  6. Convenience retailer
  7. Discount retailer

Each type of business requires different equipment to run properly, some more than others, but all retailers need to think about what type of equipment they need, and how to finance it, before opening up shop.

Let’s take a look at some of the mid to big ticket items.

Inventory management system

Well OK, this is a no-brainer, but you need to have enough stock to meet your demand. It’s not possible to stress this enough—being out of stock will kill your business. It’s been reported that out-of-stocks, overstocks, and returns cost retailers a $1.75 trillion per year. Ouch. Get yourself an inventory management system.

Also, you may want to check out our related blog post, How to Grow with Inventory Financing.

Point-of-sale (POS) system

Ah yes, the actual ‘making money’ part of retail. For brick and mortar stores, you’ll need a physical POS system for accepting credit cards and securely storing cash—yes, some people still buy with cash.

For an e-commerce retail business, you’ll need a web portal capable of handling online transactions. This will also need to include the cost of a website to showcase your products. For more in-depth information on starting an e-commerce store, check out this guide.

Physical items in your store

From a ‘We’re Open!’ sign to security cameras to mops, there are dozens of items you may need to run your shop. Depending on the type of retail business you’re planning, there can be an unlimited variance in the actual, physical items you’ll need, but this list does a great job pointing out the most popular needs—and some you may have missed.

Marketing budget

Wait, you just thought you could open a store and people would flock to it? There have never been more choices for consumers than there are today, and there will be even more tomorrow. You need to plan ways to attract them, a.k.a. marketing.

Here are a couple of quick wins you might want to try:

Brick-and-mortar stores – Submit your business name, phone number, address and website to local listings directories online. It’s cheap (or free if you do it yourself) and effective way to ensure people can find your business online.

E-commerce – If you don’t have a physical location people can walk into, how will they find you? Driving targeted traffic to your website with Google AdWords or Facebook ads are two viable options—just make sure you’re tracking which ads convert web visitors into paying customers! Additionally, you might try blogging. Don’t worry; it’s easier than you think—just think of frequently asked questions from your customers and answer them like you are writing an email to a friend.

Cover these basics and you’ll be in great shape to start your retail business. Once you can fund the equipment in this list and open up shop, the real fun begins—running your own store. And remember:

The challenge of the retail business is the human condition.
– Howard Schultz