Opening Your Own Store: Thinking Outside the Brick and Mortar Box

MG_0107A great product is central to success in business. Products by themselves will rarely do the trick, though. It is critical to the success of your venture to find ways to put your products where buying customers will see them. Unless you have access to tens of thousands in spare cash to rent a great storefront, though, finding a way to bring your products to the buying public can require some creativity.

Startup entrepreneurs today use unconventional concepts to take their product to market.

Mobile retail units

Truck-mounted retail businesses sell more than just food; from fashion (Fashion Truck is an example) to art (Marco Art), enterprising businesses think of all kinds of new products to sell on the go. While retail trucks tend to have issues with retail permits, they often get around them in creative ways, such as setting up shop at farmers’ markets where mobile retail units do not violate local regulations.

Pop-up shops

Pop-up shops are full-fledged retail units set up in proper brick-and-mortar retail spaces on a temporary basis. Renting a pop-up can cost anything from $10,000 a month to 10 times as much, depending on the location. These stores can be a great way to put start selling at a great location for short period of time.

Retail kiosks

If you have only a small line of products to sell, a retail kiosk can be an excellent idea. Kiosks are stalls set up on shopping mall concourses and other public retail areas. These tend to be right for seasonal products, cosmetics, jewelry and electronics. Kiosks tends to be available on short-term contracts for no more than $5,000 a month.

The online route

E-commerce is one of the first ideas that that most people think of as a substitute for a brick-and-mortar retail location. It’s easy to get up and running with no more than a small investment in a website, quality IBM AS400 website hosting and shopping cart software. Getting on third-party shopping sites such as Amazon is another option.

Giving up retail to go wholesale

Retail tends to be an expensive proposition — on a limited budget, a startup can usually only afford to be at one or two locations at a time. The wholesale route, though, is different — you don’t need a store location, at all; and you can scale up merely through establishing partnerships with a couple of wholesale agents who supply retail stores.

It isn’t necessarily a huge sacrifice to do without a traditional retail store; these can be expensive to maintain, and can tie you to a location that may or may not turn out well. It also tends to be much easier to deliver a great shopping experience on a website than at a brick-and-mortar outlet. These alternatives can actually be a great way to test drive a business idea before sinking big bucks into it.

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