With the ease and appeal of the Internet, it’s all too easy to dismiss the idea of opening a traditional retail business. After all, who would want to spend all hours sitting behind the shop counter when you could be working at home at your own pace, wearing your dressing gown if so wish, and running your own online shop? However, this rather flexible romantic view of running an Internet business is the sort of stuff that sells dubious get-rich-quick online schemes, while the reality of running an online business is somewhat different. In Chapter 8, I showed you what’s involved in running your business on the worldwide web, however let’s take a closer look here at the opportunities offered by traditional retailing
IS A SHOP GOOD FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
Whilst the main ethos behind this book is starting a home-based business, eventually this same business may well outgrow your kitchen table, house, garden shed, garage, or wherever you initially locate it. There are other, and in my view, often overlooked benefits to opening a traditional bricks and mortar shop
When our Dutch bicycle business outgrew the garage and rented containers stage, the most logical step forward was to open a shop. And so the Littlehampton Dutch Bike Shop was born. Initially the costs were prohibitive and our business struggled to meet the additional costs of renting a shop, business rates, and so on. But working from a shop gave our business instant credibility as would-be purchasers could now test-ride our bikes and visit our shop, and so overnight we went from being just another online faceless retailer to a high profile business.
IS YOUR BUSINESS SUITABLE FOR TRADITIONAL RETAILING?
Not every business will be suited to high street traditional retailing. For example, since writing the first edition of this book the owner of our local record shop advertised his business as up for sale. At the time I was interested in the property, not because I wanted to open a record shop but because the location of his shop was in my view ideally suited for our business.
When I approached the owner about taking over the property and not the business, he told me he had already sold it. At the time I wondered who would want to buy a high street record shop given that even the biggest multi-retailers were having a very difficult time competing against online companies, many of whom were operating outside of the UK
Traditional retail products
Products ideally suited to traditional retail sales models will include all those items that you wouldn’t ever dream about buying online. For example, would you order your bread online? Okay, perhaps you order your shopping via a supermarket online delivery service, but how many of us can resist being pulled into a shop by the gorgeous, mouth-watering aroma of fresh bread?