How to Open a Store: Planning the Launch

Planning for the launch of your new store requires strategic thinking about how the launch will support the ongoing operation of the store into its first year. This long-term thinking should keep the planning of the launch event from becoming simple party planning.

Coordinate the Pieces

Many different, separate projects must reach completion by the time of launch to make sure it goes off without a hitch. The improvements to the store’s space must be completed, including all interior and exterior renovations and the placement of displays and equipment. Inventory must be purchased and put on display. Staff must be trained and ready to work. The systems (software, hardware, and human) for sales, accounting, and store maintenance should all be in place and tested.

Launch Event

Most stores publicize a launch event, whether it is a short reception, day-long event, or sale for a week or more. For a successful launch event, always keep in mind that the purpose is not for the management and staff to celebrate, but to make customers and the community aware of your opening and to jump-start sales by encouraging them to try your products. To do this, concentrate on how to get potential customers to attend the launch event and on how to treat them when they arrive.

Marketing for the launch event can use many of the same promotion tactics that the business will use on an ongoing basis, such as

  • social media marketing
  • print advertising
  • public/press relations
  • direct mail
  • flyers

Furthermore, signage on the exterior of the store in the weeks and months before the event can raise awareness, as can signage once the opening event is underway.

Also, be sure to put together an invite list weeks before the event. Invite prominent members of your community to attend and ask them to invite others.

To create a festive atmosphere, stores often use standard party decorations, like streamers and balloons. However, it may be more strategic to put this money towards free samples, gifts with purchases or some other type of enticements and thank yous to the store’s first customers. The point is not just to create buzz leading up to the launch event, but for the launch event to create buzz which builds customers as the store moves into regular operations.

The first step to opening a store is to develop your retail store business plan. Growthink provides products and services to help you develop a professional business plan and turn your dream into reality.

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