Whether you are opening your first store or expanding your retail business, choosing the right space and location is a big decision. Here are some priorities to keep in mind that will ensure you make the right choice.
Why your retail space is so important
An important challenge that all retailers face today is getting the balance of e-commerce and physical stores correct. Some might operate only as an online business, whereas others may only sell their products in-store. Many retailers operate as a combination of both. Although consumers have moved towards online shopping, the majority of purchases are still made in physical stores.
This last fact demonstrates that your choice of retail space is more important than ever. As well as facilitating spontaneous or planned purchases, stores are also increasingly serving as collection hubs for online buys. For large or certain niche goods, they may act as showroom spaces for browsing ahead of online purchases. Brick-and-mortar stores are still very popular; people are just using them differently.
The benefits of a carefully chosen retail space
A high-quality retail space can bring a wealth of benefits. First and foremost, it gives you the opportunity to engage with your customers and target market in person. This is really important when building your brand in order to make connections, respond to customer feedback and get to know your market.
You also have the opportunity to lure people into a really immersive, impressive customer experience. While online retailers are doing clever things with gamification and VR, amongst other things, there is no substitute for indulging your customers with a live, in-person experience of your product. You have the chance to really wow your potential customers and build brand loyalty.
The key to optimizing these benefits, however, is to choose exactly the right retail space. Here’s how to do that.
There are lots of types of retail stores to explore. You might be considering a shop for rent in a mall, a pop-up kiosk, or a large flagship stand-alone store. Whatever you think you might be looking for, these priorities still stand.
Priority 1: Meeting your unique needs (and your customers’)
There are going to be some important basic needs unique to your business that should be met before any space makes your shortlist. Largely, these are related to the size and type of space.
For instance, as well as adequate space for displaying products and processing sales, do you need changing room space, or a workshop for repairs? Storage is also important. Before you begin your search, you need to know the approximate range of square metres you are looking for.
The final question to ask is: Can the space provide the best kind of customer experience you want to give?
Priority 2: Visibility
Is the space visible or is it hidden away? Your retail space needs to be noticeable and stand out to those passing by (more on footfall and location later). As such, you are looking for a modern storefront. Ideally, it should be as wide as possible with lots of glass. The more the better, since this will allow you to create vibrant, eye-catching displays that lure people in.
It’s worth considering that in a shopping mall environment, you can also benefit from the mall’s marketing professionals who will be keen to help you with visibility. Their team is working hard to attract more customers into the mall, from which you can only benefit.
Priority 3: High (quality) footfall
Does the surrounding area attract a lot of traffic? The location of the store is going to have a huge impact on its success. People are either going to come into your store because they’ve made an intentional journey to get there or because they are tempted in as they pass by. Clearly, the more people that pass by, the more likely you are to have high numbers of store visits.
Popular malls have excellent footfall, as do busy shopping streets. Being situated near to large destination or flagship stores and popular attractions is also likely to result in good passing footfall. However, it is also important to consider whether the “right” kind of people are likely to be passing. Are they likely to be from your target market?
High footfall numbers might not be enough to get people into your store. You need to think carefully about whether neighbouring outlets might complement your store or not. It is not wise to have too much direct competition, nor is it wise to situate yourself amongst stores that attract very different customers than yours.
Say, for instance, that you retail in high-end boutique home furnishings. You’d need to ensure your store placement was surrounded by other luxury retailers and experiences, such as known fashion names or premium restaurants, to get your store noticed by your target customer.
Priority 4: Parking and accessibility
How easy is it for your customers to get to your store and leave with their purchases? This is a fundamental question. It is well worth exploring typical customer journeys.
Think about your target customers. In what areas do they live? How do they travel (by car, on foot or by public transport)? Where is the most accessible place for them to shop for the kind of goods you are selling?
Before you commit to a store lease, you need to check if there is adequate parking or transport for your customers. If you sell large items, will be it easy for your customers to transport their goods home from your store?
Priority 5: Budget
Finally, your chosen retail space must be affordable if you want to make your business profitable and successful. That is simple. But remember that some retail spaces are worth more to you than others. Let the four priorities above guide you to the optimal space rather than automatically opting for the space closest to the top end of your budget.
As a final consideration, if a space offers excellent footfall and accessibility for your target market, good visibility, and the perfect space for your venture, it is likely worth considering stretching your budget over compromising on these priorities.