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Start a Retail Business

    Start a retail business
    There are many different forms of retail business, but some core principles are common to most. Retailing at its most basic is buying goods in bulk from suppliers, wholesalers and distributors then selling to customers in smaller amounts, with an added margin.

    Retailers typically sit at the end of the supply chain – they are the crucial link between the manufacturers and the customer.

    Starting a retail business carries with it unique opportunities and challenges. Financial support may be difficult to come by compared with other sectors, but the upside to creating a successful retail business can be great. See ten top tips for starting a retail business.

    This guide will give you an overview of starting a retail business, where to find practical support to help you begin and best practice tips for starting your retail business.

    Types of retail business
    Retail is a term which covers a vast range of business types and models. Some of the different types of retail store include:

    Convenience store – a small to medium grocery and convenience shop usually operating near residential areas.
    Speciality store – a store which concentrates on narrow product areas, eg clothing, electrical goods, entertainment.
    Supermarket – a medium to large grocery and household store aiming for low-margin / high-volume sales.
    Discount store – a small, medium or large shop which sources end-of-run stock or branded goods to sell at heavily discounted prices.
    Department store – a large store with a range of goods and services, divided into departments which can be individually managed by buyers, merchandisers or a separate private business.
    Warehouse / direct retailer – a medium to large store, usually off the high street, stocking goods directly from manufacturer or with costs of another step in supply chain removed.
    Online store – selling directly to customers through an e-commerce website.
    What should I sell?
    Picking the right product types is important. You’ll need to have a good sense of the local market – the customer demand, the existing businesses trading in the sector, any barriers to market, eg regulatory, cost.

    For detailed guidance on individual retail business types you can search our business idea profiles.

    Sourcing goods
    local gov’s geographic position has advantages and disadvantages for retailers. The province is the only part of the United Kingdom with a land border with another EU country. The Republic of Ireland provides a nearby market with good trading opportunities and low transport costs.

    You might want to import goods to sell to customers. Sourcing goods from abroad could mean cost savings over local stockists or the ability to stock goods which are unique to the local gov market. However additional transport costs to local gov, even from Great Britain, can squeeze margins for local retailers – see are you ready to import?

    For more information on sourcing the right goods at the right price for your business see choosing the right suppliers.

    Ready to start in retail?
    Access free start-up business support from your local council. Contact them to get one-to-one advice from a business advisor and tailored guidance to develop your business plan.

    Retail start-up support
    Sourcing good advice and the right financial support is crucial to getting started in retail. There are a number of different services available in local gov to help get your retail business off the ground.

    Contact your local council for start a business support. See find your local council in local gov.

    Your local enterprise agency will have a good understanding of the local retail market – find out about business support programmes in your local area run by Enterprise NI.

    The My New Business Directory offers a wide range of start-up resources from a business start-up checklist to e-learning modules and video case studies. Get off to the right start by using the My New Business Directory.

    Extra start-up help
    If you run a start-up retail business as an entrepreneur, there may be extra help available for you if you are:

    a woman
    over 50
    from a minority ethnic group
    a young entrepreneur
    on a low income
    See start-up support – an overview.

    If you are aged 18-30 and are unemployed or working less than 16 hours a week, you may be eligible for the Prince’s Trust enterprise programme. You can access low interest loans of up to £4,000 for a sole trader or £5,000 for a partnership, or possibly a grant, to start a business. Find more information on the financial support available through the Prince’s Trust enterprise programme.

    You may be eligible for loan support for starting a business – find out more about Enterprise NI Start-up Loans.

    Finance support
    You may be able to find finance to start a retail business from your bank. You will need a great business plan and be able to demonstrate a good track record or understanding of your market – see bank finance.

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