How to start a retail business: step-by-step guide

If you’re planning on starting a retail business in 2022, you’re not the only one. A record number of e-commerce stores such as Addison Bay launched last year, while the number of brick-and-mortar stores has also been growing at a breakneck pace.

To stand out from the competition and carve out a niche in this increasingly competitive industry, you’ll want to get off to the best possible start. For this, we’ve got you covered. Read our step-by-step guide to starting your own successful retail business. 

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1. Find a gap in the market

Your first step is to find a niche that offers growth potential without being over-exploited by competitors. You will need to apply a forensic eye to your business idea and analyse it from every angle to decide whether there’s a viable gap in the market. Let’s say you want to sell homemade candles. Is there a specific under-served market or demographic that you can tailor your offering for? What can you do to make your candles different from other suppliers? Perhaps there is a cultural angle you can pursue? Can you collaborate with artists to give your candles a unique flair? How can you make the business appealing through sustainability? It’s essential that your retail brand is distinguishable from others. Buyers need one or a few good reasons to choose you over other providers.

2. Choose your format

Next up, you’ll need to decide how you want to sell your products. For an increasing number of retailers, e-commerce is the way to go. Selling online means cheaper overheads and fewer logistics, but it’s not always the best option. If you want to offer a more boutique, high-end retail experience, then a brick-and-mortar location may well be your best bet. Consider your target audience and how they would prefer to shop with you. 

3. Create your five-year plan

Even the best retail idea will fail if you do not have a comprehensive plan. You must have a growth strategy and concrete goals in place so that your new business will have momentum and an impetus to succeed. Where do you want your store to be in five years? How much revenue do you expect to pull in a year from now? Will you be opening additional locations? These benchmarks are important not just for yourself, but for investors as well.

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4. Secure funding

This brings us to our next point – funding. As you may know, starting a retail business is not cheap. You may need hundreds of thousands of pounds’ worth of funding to get your company off the ground. As a new company owner seeking funding, we recommend using a third-party service such as SeedLegals. Such services can help you take care of the legal paperwork involved with securing funding, while offering plenty of resources to educate you on the topic, as well as support from experts to guide you through the process. This is much easier than going solo. Having expert support will improve your confidence and efficiency vastly when it comes to funding.

5. Complete your paperwork 

As with any business, you will need to get through some red tape before you can begin operating your retail enterprise. As a starting point, this means properly registering your company with GOV.UK and obtaining any business licences that might be necessary (this may depend on the products that you wish to sell). You should also take out comprehensive business insurance that includes liability insurance to protect your company if anything goes wrong. Getting your paperwork right now will save you a lot of stress in the future. 

By following these five simple steps, you can get your successful retail business off the ground and start serving your customers as soon as possible.