If you dream of opening a retail store, you’re in good company. Some 99 percent of U.S. retail stores are small businesses. Retail accounts for 29 million jobs and contributes $2.6 trillion to the U.S. GDP each year. And while e-commerce sales are growing rapidly, almost 90 percent of all retail sales still take place at brick-and-mortar stores.

With so much competition, both online and off, retailers must start smart if they hope to survive and thrive.

If you’re ready for the exciting world of retailing, download this ebook to learn 21 steps to prepare your store for success.

The first three steps include:

  • Conduct market research
    • Is there a market for what you want to sell? Market research will tell you. Who are your target customers—including their age, income, marital status, lifestyles, location and other demographic factors? Is this market growing or shrinking? Research your competition, both brick-and-mortar and online stores. How big are they, how do they price their products, and what are their unique selling points? Find market research information online, via industry associations and publications, and from government sources such as the SBA, the Census Bureau and FedStats.
  • Define your niche
    • Use your market research to fine-tune your vision for your store. To compete with national chains, discount retailers and Amazon, you must offer unique products and memorable customer experiences. Upscale, customized, or hard-to-find products can give you an edge, as can locally-made or artisanal wares. It also helps to sell products consumers prefer to see, touch and buy in person, not online.
  • Develop your brand
    • When customers think of your store, is its “personality” earthy and organic, or sleek and modern? Work with a local graphic designer, or find designers on sites such as 99Designs, Logoworks or DesignCrowd, to create a logo and other visual branding elements for use on signage, hangtags and bags. Be sure to trademark your store name and logo.

Read the ebook to learn all the steps.

21 Steps to Starting a Retail Store