The short answer to this is ‘yes, you can!’ The retail industry is undergoing a transformation at the moment, moving from large, luxurious stores that can be a drain on finances towards smaller, more contained premises linked to large warehouses that are usually sited far away from urban centres but easily accessible on good roads. In this way, a retailer can keep overheads and salaries low, while still offering a good range of products and services with very little delay.
Customers can often choose whether they want to visit a shop in person, or simply shop online from the comfort of their own homes, or even while out and about during a busy day. If you are thinking about setting up a retail business, you might want to consider one very important fact: you might already have everything you need to begin!
No Need for Premises
A modern retail business no longer needs a physical presence. Instead, it is the business’ online presence that matters to potential customers and the beauty of a webpage is that it can be hosted from almost anywhere. To set up your business you will need to register your company according to provincial and national laws, just as you would if you were planning to open a traditional business. Think up a name that you would be glad to say over and over again, one that people will remember easily, and that is easy for Joe Public to say. All your finances must be properly accounted for and taxes paid on them. In short, your home-based business is as real a business as one in an office block or shop-front.
While you investigate all the administration needed in order to open up a business, begin making a list of products and/ or services that you wish to sell. You will need to consider the demand for your products and services in your local area (or as far afield as you are planning to operate); the readiness with which you can supply the items, and have at least two reliable suppliers. There is nothing worse than watching a whole chain of retailers stumbling because they all place too much reliance on one supplier who then fails them for whatever reason.
Consider if you will need an assistant. You might be happy to work seven days a week, but you may have other obligations on at least some of those days. If this is the case, hiring someone to fill in for you while you have some personal time could be the best decision, even though you will have to work hard to make enough money to pay both your own salary and your employee’s. There will be decisions like this that you constantly have to make: weighing up your time versus your money. The main consideration that you should keep in mind at all times is the impact of these decisions on your customer satisfaction levels.
Customer satisfaction should always be high on the radar of any company owner or manager: without customers there would be no business. Once you have worked out what you do not need: premises, lots of employees, and what you do need: an incorporated company with a snappy name, reliable suppliers, and the demand for your products within your target customer base.
Keep Your Stock at the Suppliers
You will notice that this article has not yet touched upon storage space for your stock. Now, you can choose to buy the items and have them shipped to you, and then repackage them and send them out to your customers upon receiving an order. But a much easier way of sourcing and selling products is to use something called drop-shipping.
This is when you act almost like the piggy in the middle between suppliers and your customer: paying your supplier and charging your customer with a nice profit added on for yourself – and you even use your supplier’s delivery service to get the goods to your customer directly from their (the suppliers’) warehouse. Obviously, your supplier must be willing to ship items individually and you will need to come up with an arrangement that suits your both – he or she will not be happy with you making money to his disadvantage while you would not want to end up with a packaging or ‘extras’ bill that will chew into your profits.
Running a retail business in this way will seem to be almost a paper exercise at some points. But once you build up your customer base and the profits start rolling in, it will very quickly become a real and thriving concern, one that will support you and family and even allow you to expand into other areas of the retail market, if that is something that you would like to try.