Everyone dreams of hanging out their shingle and enjoying the numerous benefits that accompany being a proprietor. From the potentially ungodly amounts of money to be earned to having one’s creativity and drive come to fruition, owning a business has many advantages. Whether the product being sold is fancy smelling soap and body lotions or fashionable denim jeans, even with the internet, opening a business takes desire, motivation and effort, especially to open a high street outlet.
The most recent challenges to this industry are superstores and the internet. Superstores (e.g. Tesco) are businesses that make shopping convenient through one-stop shopping. The advantage of these types of establishments to the consumer is that the customer can pretty much find in the store anything and everything under the sun, and more often than not, much cheaper than products found in smaller, specialized stores.
These establishments often sell clothing, food (prepared and unprepared), automotive and garden products, in addition to a number of health and household items. Often, these superstores, depending on their location, have been accused of eliminating the competition or making it difficult for small business owners to compete.
Much like superstores, which are characterized by selling convenience at a lower cost, the internet also makes shopping much more convenient and cheap. A person can, in a matter of minutes, purchase their holiday shopping list from their laptop or mobile phone. The internet, because of its vastness, allows consumers to find bargains through several different merchants, making spending the day shopping at high street outlets less appealing, especially if the shopper has a busy lifestyle. In fact, trends in 2017 show that most people who shop high street outlets are dining out, not shopping, and much of this has to do with the ease of online shopping.
Other challenges to opening a high street outlet include:
- Competition from other proprietors selling similar items, as it relates to pricing. Pricing also can be problematic for retail businesses that sell custom-made products, because the store might not be established. Ways that businesses counteract problems associated with pricing in this market include buy one, get one free offers, in addition to grand opening discounts and special offers for club card members.
- All retailers, regardless of experience, face challenges when the economy, as a whole, is depressed, because consumers are not as generous in their spending habits. During these times, high street outlets suffer because of reduced foot traffic. The only advantage to starting a business during an economic downturn is being able to lease affordable storefronts, as landlords want to make sure to fill those vacancies.
- Trends come and go, and successful small businesses have to be able to quickly identify a market and determine what products will sell. Small businesses seeking to keep up with trends without going under often do so through making deals with wholesale manufacturers.
- Loss prevention, or theft and damage to merchandise will always be costly to proprietors. Businesses often have an inventory management strategy that electronically tracks merchandise, in addition to cameras that monitor employee and customer movement in the store.
- Operational costs or costs associated with overheads such as payroll, rent, insurance, maintenance, and stocking merchandise compete with sales. For new businesses, the first five years are challenging in making a noticeable profit.
Much of opening a high street business relies on branding as well, especially if the business is a specialty shop. One of the best ways to brand a product is to become an expert in the field. This begins by researching and understanding every aspect of the product, which means understanding trends in the sector. This requires not only reading up on the subject but also connecting with others who have expertise in the area. Also, research the market carefully to see who else is offering similar products and research to find a target demographic. Knowing the demographic and what their interests are will help in shaping the brand.
At the same time, the brand has to stand out from others in its field, so making the product unique can help with sales. Getting product exposure can also aid in pulling in customers, whether it is through online advertising, print advertising, special events or just every day hustling in malls, shopping outlets and any public place where the product can be presented.
Presentation is also important for marketing and advertising for a product. While location is important to foot traffic and selling a product or opening a shop, customers have to want to come into the place. Customers might not go into the establishment if the outside looks drab or neglected. In addition to displays, proper upkeep of the area, especially if it is part of a greater shopping area, is important to attracting new customers.
Fire hazards and stores in poorly lit areas or with dim lighting are accidents waiting to happen. In some cases, this neglect invites unwanted criminal behaviour, which also can increase insurance premiums. Whether maintenance is done through the leasing agent or owner of the building, or whether contracting with businesses that specialize in maintaining properties, for example, www.allemergencyservices.com, maintenance of the property shows the owners care about the business and reflects a certain professionalism, in addition to showing compliance with the law.
In all, one has to pour a lot of energy, focus and passion into making a business not only become established in the beginning stages but also remain competitive, during both good and bad economic times.
While there are challenges to opening a high street outlet, especially with the advent of online shopping and the convenience of superstores, prospective proprietors can successfully open a business. The current trend in high street outlets says that customers are out and about, dining and enjoying entertainment, so the issue is not that consumers are not spending money, but that they are spending money on items other than those found in traditional retail outlets. As the retail industry evolves and grows, high street retailers will have to adapt to these trends to attract and keep customers.