Thinking of opening a restaurant? Or providing a physical location for your digital ecommerce store? Maybe you inherited a space and are thinking about ways to make a profit off it?
Opening a physical store comes with challenges that don’t accompany an e-commerce store. Want to know what the biggest pitfalls are and how enterprising startups are fighting back?
Here are trouble spots that you should know about as a future store owner and ways that you can make it right.
Location, location, location.
Until you become well known and your product, dining experience, or service is talked about everywhere… Until then, location will matter. Where you position yourself, whether you get a lot of foot traffic, and if the demographic of visitors matches what you are offering will all influence your sales numbers.
Often, we’re limited in where we open a business. While the ideal might be having your choice of any city, state, or location. The reality is often different. The constraints might come due to having roots in a certain area, and not wanting to cross city or state lines to open a shop. You might have limited funds, which can also put a boundary on where in a city you can open your enterprise.
How do you level the playing field and make your location work for you? Find a way to use a potential weakness in the constraints you have and turn it into a strength. For example, depending on the business, your appeal might be through being a hidden jewel. Oz Architecture urban design firm helped create and design hard-to-find spots for speakeasies. These spots were accessible to those “in the know,” creating an experience that delighted. Look for ways to turn a location disadvantage into an advantage.
Inventory can trip you up.
Knowing how much to stock is a problem that isn’t such a big deal for online retailers. But when you are running a physical store, customers expect to walk out with the product or dining experience that they were hoping for. Saying that you are out of stock of whatever item will lose you customers quickly.
Inventory shortage and challenges are common when businesses are first starting out. And business owners have yet to experience the rate at which items are used or consumers buy products.
The good news is that this is an area where experience and a good inventory management system can save you bucks. And protect you from awkward moments with customers who want what you have run out of (which you didn’t stock for fear of overstocking and losing money).
The customer experience element.
Coming face to face with real people who are free to comment on what they do or do not like about your product can feel scary. Particularly when the comments go beyond the product you are selling and to things that should matter less. For example, they might take offense to the way your hair is done, the type of clothes you wear, your accent, etc.
On the other hand, what we can accomplish online has expanded into every area of our life. But we are all human creatures that still require human connection. Because human connection with a real person is becoming rarer, it also means you can turn it into an advantage. Create a customer experience that is so remarkable, customers will tell their friends and their relatives about you.
How do you do that? Be human. And understand that customers are human. They get upset over things that might seem silly but that matter to them. They feel happy when something goes their way, and sad when something is disappointing. If you aren’t a people person, consider taking some courses that help you brush up on your people skills. Or commit to memory some simple tips for helping customers feel heard and respected.
As business owners, it can be easy to lose sight of the human element of customers. And simply see them as a means of increasing our sales for the day. But doing that causes you to lose sight of moments and actions you can take that will make a memorable experience for them.
Starting up your physical store is a challenge, but knowing what is ahead and preparing yourself to tackle common issues will help you face the obstacles well prepared. Being forewarned allows you to prepare yourself so that you don’t get blindsided by the unexpected.