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Why an Online Retailer Might Invest in a Physical Storefront
If you’re an online retailer that is considering investing in a brick and mortar space, we’re happy to share a few reasons why other retailers have considered this a worthwhile move. While most people think that online shopping is the only way to shop these days, the truth is that many retailers still find brick and mortar locations crucial to their business success.
Why? Well…a few key reasons:
Enhancing the Customer Experience
Physical storefronts provide a unique opportunity to create a personalized and immersive shopping experience. Customers can interact with products, try them on, and receive personalized assistance from the store’s staff. In turn, this builds customer trust, strengthens brand loyalty, and increases customer satisfaction and retention. Win-win-win.
Reaching New Customers
It may come as a shock, but not all customers prefer to shop online. By establishing a physical storefront, brands can tap into different customer segments who may prefer in-person shopping or who have not heard of your brand.
Letting Customers Try Before They Buy
Some products require physical interaction or demonstration to fully appreciate their value. For example, a furniture retailer can display their items in-store, allowing customers to see and feel the quality firsthand. This can be particularly beneficial for luxury or experiential brands.
Building an Omnichannel Retail Strategy
Many successful retailers adopt an omnichannel approach to integrate both online and offline channels — and if you’re new here, we think an omnichannel retail strategy is a pretty smart move. By adding a brick and mortar location to your retail strategy, you can complement your existing online presence and allow your customers to browse products in-store and make purchases online or vice versa. Talk about seamless integration.
Now that we’ve covered a few key points — of many — on “why” a retailer may want to break into the in-person shopping experience, let’s discuss the “how”.
7 Tips to Kickstart a Successful Store Location Search
If you’ve started your search for a retail location, we have a few tips to consider in your search. Learn from our 20+ years of experience helping customers like you do the same.
1. Understand Your Customer Demographics Inside and Out
Before selecting a physical storefront location, it’s essential to have a deep and unwavering understanding of your target customers. Consider their demographics — age, gender, income level, and shopping preferences — in order to make informed decisions about where your store should be, what it should look like, and what the in-person experience should feel like for them. Curious where to find this information? We have a few suggestions on accessible resources you can utilize to gain insights on your audience’s shopping habits — try using:
- USPS data (free)
- Social media analytics (free)
- Website analytics (free)
- Customer surveys and feedback (free or $, depending on service used)
- Competitor analysis (free or $, depending on service used)
- Market research reports or data providers ($)
Once you’ve collected the necessary demographic information, map it out to identify geographical areas with a higher density of your customers. By visualizing this data, you’ll eventually identify some potential store locations that make the most sense for your customer-base and you can start looking for the right spot to land.
2. Learn from Your Competitors
While it may seem counterintuitive to open a business near your competitors, the truth is that this could be a really smart business move — especially if their store gets a lot of traffic. In actuality, their presence in that location can indicate a successful retail area for you to consider for your own business. But before deciding that you’re absolutely going to move in next door, it’s important to understand why they chose that location, if they’ve seen success in that area, and then leverage those insights for your business’ gain.
3. Think About What Setting is Best
Choosing a busy area with high foot or car traffic is critical for the success of your retail store. Think about it — you’ve undoubtedly been driving around before and seen a store that was haphazardly placed somewhere that was challenging to get to. Don’t be that person. Instead, focus your retail real estate search in bustling locations to increase the chances of attracting potential customers and boosting your sales. For example, you could consider an indoor mall location with high foot traffic, a downtown location that’s highly visible, or a strip mall location with ample parking. No matter what the location is, you have to trace it back to your demographic data and think about what makes the most sense for your customers. Where would they shop? Once you can answer that question, narrow your focus to those types of locations.
4. Remember That More Square Footage is Not Necessarily Better
While the size of the store certainly does matter, other factors hold greater importance, especially for experiential shopping . While many retailers may be inclined to find a bigger space to showcase as many of their products as possible, perhaps a smaller space could make more sense for your business. By choosing a smaller square footage, you can reduce overhead and operational costs, enabling faster profitability. And, with endless aisle technology, you can still offer your full inventory without needing all that display space. We recommend striking the right balance between location, square footage, and rent costs.
5. Remember That Humans Are Highly Visual
Have you ever heard the statistic that it takes a customer up to seven times to recognize a brand and commit it to memory? In a visually saturated world, this is why effective signage and visibility into your store are paramount in your location choice. Opt for eye-catching and memorable signage that stands out from the noise, and make sure your store has ample glass windows, allowing customers to peek inside and feel enticed to explore what you have to offer.
6. Consider Infrastructure Costs and Maintenance Needs to Get Up and Running
Before signing on the dotted line for your retail location, evaluate the condition of the space, considering infrastructure requirements that you’ll have to do yourself and invest in after you sign the lease. Most landlords for retail locations require the store to be responsible for everything, starting at the wall studs. By determining whether a location is turnkey or if it requires remodeling, you’ll have a better understanding of the time and costs associated with choosing that specific space.
To help with this step, we made an easy-to-reference checklist of costs you’ll want to evaluate up front:
- Physical renovations
- Ongoing maintenance
- Electrical upgrades
- HVAC systems
Check out more of the infrastructure needs you should be familiar with in our guide to retail installations.
7. Partner with a Company That Knows What They’re Doing
If all of this seems overwhelming and confusing, the good news is that there are companies that specialize in this type of work. MINT has a proven track record in helping online retailers make a successful entry into the physical retail space by finding the ideal location that aligns with your brand and customer base. Ensure you hire a partner who can secure the right space at the right price for you so you can hit the ground running.
Take the Next Step in Building an In-Person Shopping Experience for Your Customers
Finding the perfect store location is crucial for the success of your retail business. By understanding your customer demographic, analyzing data, considering key real estate factors, evaluating rent costs, and partnering with an expert — like MINT — you can confidently select a location that maximizes visibility, attracts your target audience, and sets the stage for a thriving retail experience.
If you need support in getting your store location search off the ground, get in touch with MINT to learn how we can help. We wish you the best in your retail store location search!