5 things you wish you would’ve know before opening your retail store

Editorial Team

5 min read
Retail shop owner looking at clothes on rack

As the old saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. There are probably some decisions in life you wish you could go back and change, and this desire can apply to everything from love to health to finances. It could even apply when starting a retail business.

Imagine if you already knew everything you needed to know about retail – before accepting your first customer. With an opportunity like that, you could:

  • Avoid a lot of mistakes
  • Generate more sales
  • Save yourself a lot of headaches

So, what do you need to open a retail store? Because time travel isn’t possible, you’ll never have the benefit of learning from your future self. However, after conducting a very informal survey, we’ve compiled a list of the five pieces of advice that experienced store owners wish they had received before starting their businesses.

1. Establish your brand ASAP

Big-box stores invest heavily in their brands. They have the budgets to do so.

Even if you operate a small shop, brand identity is no less important. When you’re starting, it’s critical to define your values and establish your brand as soon as possible.

Fortunately, it’s never been easier to define a brand – even if you’re on a budget. For example, it’s possible to crowdsource your logo by accepting graphic design bids on freelance websites. Plus, there are tons of drag and drop content management systems that allow you to make stunning websites using whatever layout or color palette you want.

Before committing any resources, however, it’s important to verify that the name you want to use for your store is still available within your state.

READ: How to find a business mentor

2. Understand the customer isn’t always right

It goes against belief — but customers aren’t always right. Even when they are, this doesn’t give them license to be rude.

As a retailer, you can and should be accommodating whenever your customers experience an issue. Try to fix the problem as quickly as possible — while remaining polite. In most cases, offering a refund or a few freebies will help do the trick.

Yet, you shouldn’t have to bend over backward to meet their demands. When dealing with truly unreasonable customers, you have every right to “fire” them.

Here’s a list of useful tips on how to deal with rude customers when setting up a retail store or any other small business.

3. Break the rules

Most supermarkets use familiar floor plans. The same goes for shoe stores, hardware shops, and almost any other retail establishment that comes to mind. Many small business owners tend to follow the same patterns as other retailers in their respective niches.

However, IKEA didn’t subscribe to this formula. Instead, it designed a walk-through experience that no one had ever seen in the furniture industry.

Rather than display its inventory on aisled shelves, like most electronics vendors do, Apple started using showrooms where users could “play” with phones, tablets, and computers before buying them.

The takeaway is that you can be creative with the layout, design, and display of your retail store. Break the rules and see what works. You might accidentally stumble upon an innovative formula that all of your competitors try to copy.

4. Launch a loyalty program

Starting a loyalty program is kind of like planting a tree. You have to invest some time and effort upfront to help the “tree” grow.

Once your customer loyalty program starts “branching out,” you’ll be happy you made the investment. With minimal maintenance, you’ll be able to grow your loyal customer base with each passing year.

If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve published a resource to help you launch a loyalty program when you open your own retail store.

5. Invest in payment security

As a small business owner that accepts credit and debit cards, you may already know that protecting yourself from payment fraud means choosing a PCI-compliant processor that understands the importance of data security.

Payment fraud has been a major problem in retail, which is what eventually led to the introduction of the Payment Card Industry (PCI) security standards in 2004.

Using advanced security methods, like point-to-point encryption and tokenization, along with the support you need to understand the requirements and maintain compliance, can help minimize the risk of a data breach and resulting consequences like:

  • Penalties, fines, and potential litigation fees
  • Lost sales and revenue
  • Decreased customer confidence

Need more retail management tips?

Connecting with more experienced business owners can help you avoid common pitfalls – helping you save valuable time and money.

It also helps to partner with a retail point of sale solution provider that specializes in helping entrepreneurs manage their business and accept payments.

To discover how our business management solutions can help your retail store succeed, schedule a free consultation with us today.


This information is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial, or tax advice. Readers should contact their attorneys, financial advisors, or tax professionals to obtain advice with respect to any particular matter.

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