Small is big

Smarter solutions

It’s fair to say that big box retail has been one of the standout growth areas of the New Zealand retail scene. Everywhere throughout the country, retail players with scale have emerged to occupy generous-footprint premises in aggregated large format precincts.

But, there’s no need to feel outdone or outweighed by these big box players. There’s definitely room for the more modest retailer and in a world increasingly dominated by faceless online portals or generic big brand marketing, the “little guy” can actually make inroads to customer wallets.

Just as the tiny house movement is gaining momentum in the residential realm, there’s some real potential to transfer the ideas to a retail context.

So, if you’ve taken a look at your budget and decided that the rental component needs to be on the thrifty side, then cut your retail space expectations to fit your bank account.

Here’s some things to consider:

• You could use off-site storage to improve your operational efficiency and optimise physical space or, if there’s room on the property, you could hire a container to have overflow or seasonal stock close at hand

• A small store, kiosk or food truck allows you to experiment, to trial ideas and test your market without massive outlay

• Small premises may give you more elasticity with the landlord around lease terms

• If you opt for a kiosk, it may be easier for you to exit a lease (compared to a conventional storefront)

• A more intimate space offers you a great customer interface where you can truly provide the personal approach (as opposed to the big box model where customers can wander aimlessly looking for assistance)

• You’ll be able to keep overheads low – less area to heat/keep cool, fewer lights, less area to clean and merchandise

• Look into smart payment systems to keep costs down and streamline reduced counter

• using mobile point-of-sale technology (such as an iPad as a cash register) allows you to make a sale on the spot right next to the product your customer is looking at, the issuing of e-receipts saves trees, and the new generation of shoppers will be right at home with the concept

• gone are the days when you have to book column centimetres in your local newspaper to market your store – the rise and rise of social media as a marketing forum is cost-effective, targeted and in real time

• Small retail premises in prime shopping areas will allow you to leverage off the foot traffic and the buzz generated by neighbouring businesses

• If you have a small store, you can truly specialise in offering a carefully-curated product range – become an expert

• You can become creative with your store fit-out – look at all the available space and work out how to optimise the opportunities for vertical displays, unique props and quirky layout to capture customers’ imaginations

• You’ll be less likely to hang on to old or slow-moving stock so your store will always feel fresh and current

While some major retailers may claim “big is good”, you have the opportunity to show that “small can be great”.


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