7 Things You Need to Know Before Opening a Physical Storefront

Even though we spend much of our lives online, many consumers prefer the in-person retail experience. In fact, 77 percent of Gen Z, the youngest and largest generation of shoppers, opt for brick-and-mortar whenever possible. They’re looking for some respite from the never-ending barrage of ads and sponsored content that follows them wherever they shop online. They crave the seduction of brick-and-mortar’s sounds, textures, and smells.

Whether you’re a small site looking to dip your toe in the physical world or an online juggernaut out to disrupt major industries, here are a few need-to-knows that can make the transition smooth.

Before you do anything else, write that business plan

Your business plan is arguably the most important document you’ll create in the life of your company. It’s a blueprint that shows the path you need to take to achieve success. It also makes you take all of those lofty goals, write them down, and actually look at them on paper. Usually, you have to have a business plan before you can bring in investors or qualify for certain loans.

A comprehensive plan addresses many basic but important questions:

  • What products or services are you selling?
  • What’s the correct pricing for your market?
  • What’s the supply chain?

It can be easy to ramp up too fast and bite off more than you can chew, so a business plan can serve as a gentle reminder of reality.

The money won’t grow on trees

With business plan in hand, you’ll have a handle on how much it will cost to actually open a storefront. So where do you find the money? A good first stop to consider is an SBA-supported loan or microloan. Be sure to include all of your costs when pursuing financing, including rent, renovations, staffing, equipment, and supplies.

You also need to have a solid grasp of accounting basic principles (or hire an accountant who does) to manage operating costs, set a budget, work through profit and loss, and meet tax obligations.

It really is all about location, location, location

You’ve got your product list, suppliers, and financing locked and ready to go. Now the only thing left to do is find that perfect spot. You can lease the space or buy it outright, and each has its pros and cons. With a lease, you have the flexibility to move on if the space doesn’t suit you. But owning builds equity and gives you full control.

First, you have to actually choose a building. But how to know which one’s right for you? There are many factors to consider, including style, zoning, visibility, access, demographics, competition, and potential for growth.

Leases and licenses are key to a strong start

A commercial lease is typically more complex than a residential lease and tends to last longer (three years or more). It sets up the relationship between your company and the landlord, so getting it right at the beginning can save a lot of tension and trouble over the long term.

Most states require a sales license and an employer identification number (EIN), which allows you to report taxes to the IRS. Some industries (e.g., pet grooming and hair styling) require special certifications, which vary by state.

Don’t settle—hire well at the start

Among the many reasons America’s business leaders cite as the secrets to their success, one rises to the top: smart hiring. Over time, this becomes increasingly more vital to robust growth. The right people on your team can help you soar to new heights; the wrong people drag you down into the mud.

Be sure to hire people who are experts in things about which you know little to nothing. And listen to them, even when—especially when—they disagree with you.

Don’t be shy; shout it from the rooftops

All the best products and planning in the world won’t matter if no one knows you’re there. A few suggestions on how to quickly spread the word:

  • Connect with your community. Organic, word-of-mouth marketing can often be your most powerful tool. Get out there and meet other business owners, donate raffle prizes at the local chamber of commerce, and hang flyers in high-traffic areas that reflect your target market.
  • Get social. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, or Instagram, social media platforms are a necessary tool for modern business. They let you distribute your content out to a near-limitless audience and provide a direct channel to current and potential customers.
  • Engage with email. Share your company’s latest news and get direct feedback with a comprehensive email program. Promotions, events, and new seasonal items are a perfect fit for this valuable platform.

Your POS will be the unsung hero of your store

No matter how killer your business plan, how tight your finances, or how amazing your products, none of that matters if you have an outdated, inefficient payment system. It needs to grow as your company grows, so make sure your solution can handle EMV, contactless, and, of course, cold hard cash.

Poynt’s connected payment solution is ready to take your brick-and-mortar storefront to the next level.