We live in a digital age, and for many people, the concept of shopping involves a few clicks of a mouse and waiting for a parcel to fall on the doorstep. However, despite the rise in online shopping, there is still a sizeable market for businesses with brick-and-mortar stores.

Often these businesses will also have an online presence, but they understand that the customer still wants to opportunity to have a more personal experience. If you are considering opening your own retail store but are not sure where to begin, this guide will take you through the key steps involved.

Have a great idea and a strong business plan

In all likelihood, you already have an idea of the kind of retail store you want to open and the products you want to sell, but ideally, you should have a unique slant that other stores are not offering. You need to think about who your customers are, the products you will sell, the prices you will set, your competitors in the local area and beyond and the employees you may need. Your business plan should also include how you will be funding the business initially, how you will market it and your ongoing running costs.

Find the perfect name for your store

Choosing the name for your store is a trickier task than you might initially think. It should have some meaning to the customer and be relatively simple, but it also needs to be unique and distinguished from other brands. Once you have your name you need to ensure it is not trademarked and that the domain name is available for your website.

Get your licenses and insurance

There are several legal requirements you will need to satisfy to set up your business. You will need a license to operate in your city, county or state, an employee identification number (EIN) which enables you to hire staff and collect tax and a seller’s license for the products you want to sell. You will also need to choose a legal structure for your business such as a limited liability corporation (LLC) to separate your personal and professional assets. Finally, to cover your business in case a customer should be injured while in your store, you should take out general liability insurance from Next Insurance.

Find the ideal premises

Choosing a location for your store is a complex task. The store should be easy to access for customers and in a busy retail area as well as big enough to comfortably accommodate your product displays and storage. It may be tempting to choose the cheapest rent you can find, but this is unlikely to equate to a desirable store for you or your customers which will have a direct impact on your business success.

Develop strong relationships with your suppliers

Your supply chain will be essential to your success as a retail business so it’s important to develop strong relationships with reliable vendors as early as possible. Work out where you will need to source your products from, how long shipping is likely to take and taxes you may need to pay.