What makes a successful retailer

Is it that the store is in an ideal spot? Or that they inherited a successful store? Or perhaps that they are in a tight-knit community? Whilst all of these things are likely to have an impact on the success, the thing that is common to all successful retailers is that they have worked hard at making it so. That means that every small business has the potential to be successful with the right approach.

We spoke to the Retailer Advisory Panel, a group of award-winning retailers, about what they think makes a successful retailer.  

They believe that taking the time to look at your business - being honest about what's good about it, what's bad - is just as important as putting in long hours day after day.  Sales through convenience stores are growing but don't assume that means that your business will continue to thrive as competition is coming from the likes of Tesco Express and Sainsbury's Local - take steps to make sure your business is in the best possible shape.

Hints & Tips

  • Ensure that you understand the industry that you are hoping to be successful in.
    • Read the trade press, eg Convenience Store, Retail Newsagent, Independent Retail News
    • Speak to other retailers and share experiences
    • Read the business pages of the newspapers
    • Join trade bodies such as the Association of Convenience Stores
  • Take risks.
    • But minimise the risk by doing your research, eg. ask your customers, ask other retailers, investigate other sources of information for example your local council.
  • Understand who your customers are and tailor your offering to their needs.
    • Are the majority of your shoppers just buying cigarettes and a paper, or are the elderly shoppers doing regular small shops?
    • Do you know what they want, or do you just think you know what they want?
  • Take the time to review your business and identify the pros and cons.
  • Give your staff the opportunity to take responsibility.
    • Give members of staff specific jobs - and see what they can suggest to improve how things work
    • It will give them an incentive to work hard, and give you free time to look at the bigger picture
  • Always be prepared to get your own hands dirty.
    • Don't always delegate the worst jobs as this can discourage your staff

These are some general ideas to get you thinking about whether you can improve your business - have a look around the website to find out more specific suggestions and tips on what to do.