Opening a Retail Store in the Digital Age

Alex Jones
Alex Jones
Guest Contributor

While opening a brick-and-mortar store is never a risk-free venture, expanding upon your core strategies with a few additional focus areas will create the foundation for a thriving retail business.

With the rise of the try-before-you-buy trend continuing to impact e-commerce retailers, as well as social media shopping features making it easier than ever to find products and make purchases online, the news that 7,500 more retail stores in the UK lay empty in 2018 compared to the previous year should come as little surprise. However, with data published in a study by High Street Futures in 2019 showing that 75 percent of consumers would still prefer to visit a local store even if the same item was available online, this begs the question – why are so many of us shopping online if data suggests that we’d rather visit a physical, brick-and-mortar shop?

For aspiring entrepreneurs, fledgling startups and even digital natives looking for growth, the knowledge that more British stores are closing than opening is, naturally, an alarming and difficult pill to swallow. As such, this article examines the difficulties businessmen and women face when looking to emerge into the brick-and-mortar retail market and how they can combat this to succeed in this flourishing digital age.

The problem

According to data gathered by E-commerce News EU in 2018, 87 percent of UK consumers make their retail purchases online and searching for the best deals available is, undoubtedly, a large contributing factor to this figure. With internet giants such as Amazon pumping money into targeted Google Advertising schemes designed to grab the attention of consumers with the biggest bargains possible, it’s clear to see how smaller independent retailers are struggling to compete with online influences.

As such, the retail landscape is constantly changing and will continue to do so at an extremely fast rate, meaning that the quicker small businesses learn to adapt to these evolving trends and predictions, the less likely they are to fall victim to this digital hoover. 

Steps to take when looking to open your brick-and-mortar store:

  • Invest in tech – with more and more consumers prioritizing experience over objects, investing time and money in technology and interiors to create a seamless, stress-free and enjoyable shopping experience is key. Analytics providers like RetailNext offer a whole host of actionable solutions from helping manage your operations to boosting your marketing presence – all with a view to help you create a shopping experience your customers choose to visit you for
  • Consider your social presence – with the news that 71 percent of consumers who have had a positive social media experience with a particular brand are likely to recommend it to others, there has never been a better time to actively invest time and effort into your social media strategy. As such, ensure you regularly update your social channels with live updates of the goings on in your brick-and-mortar store, including putting names to faces and documenting exclusive in-store offers that will get your customers running to your door
  • Utilize online platforms to benefit your offline store – with only 26 percent of small businesses having their own online e-commerce platform, there’s no wonder startup retailers struggle to compete with retail giants in the digital sphere. By utilizing online techniques such as offering customers a free click and collect service if they select your physical store as their delivery location, consumers are more likely to feel invested in your brand, pick up additional items in your store and convert into loyal customers

While opening a retail business – in fact, any business – is never a totally risk-free venture, by considering the above advice I believe you will create the foundations for a thriving brick-and-mortar retail business.

About the writer: Alex Jones is a content creator and writer for Jolly Good Loans – your online personal loans encyclopedia.

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