Top tips for moving your online business to the high street

When you first tentatively ventured into the online retail world all those years ago, all you wanted was to boost your income without having to sign away your life to a full-time employment contract.

But your business has gone from strength to strength. In between school runs and messy dinnertimes, you’ve managed to build a healthy pool of customers and a sizeable profit you could once only dream of. And along the way you’ve learned something important – you were made for the high-octane entrepreneurial lifestyle.

The only problem is, your current homespun operation just isn’t cutting it anymore.
Forget about earning a few extra pennies on the side, you’re ready to scale up and launch your retail empire with a high street flagship store.

As you get started with the big move, we’re sharing a few top tips to help you manoeuvre the tricky transition with ease.
Keep your customers in the loop
The only reason you’re able to open a high street base at all is because of the loyal online customers you’ve formed relationships with. Keep them informed of your plans at every step and they’ll also be the ones who’ll help spread the word come opening day.

One easy way to do this is to ask their advice – it could prove invaluable. Use questback software from Precision Feedback to create and send out online surveys, and you’ll be able to pinpoint exactly what they’re hoping to see as your business develops.
Stick to a budget
After a few eye-opening property searches and rough calculations, you’ve fully come to terms with the expense involved with launching a new shop.

To stop costs spiralling out of control, set yourself a strict budget. Cover everything from premises to insurance and equipment, and make sure you’ve got the necessary funds in place before starting any work or signing any leases.

Find the perfect premises
It’s all about location when it comes to picking the perfect premises. You need to be close to your customers, in a visible spot on the high street and near enough to home that your daily commute is still manageable.

And remember, there’s no need to rush the shop-hunting process. Moving into the wrong place too quickly is an expensive mistake to fix. Be patient and wait until you find somewhere that meets all your most important requirements.

Don’t neglect your website
Never mind being profitable, it’s going to take months of hard work to even get your bricks-and-mortar shop up and running.
Don’t neglect your website in the meantime. It’s still your main source of income and a good way to attract new customers. Update your shopping cart software, stay on top of SEO and restock as much as possible to keep business ticking over.
Have you recently moved your online business to the high street? Got any other top tips for us? Leave a comment and share your story.

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Written by Joycellyn Akuffo

Founder and editor of www.motherswhowork.co.uk, a mother of two wonderful children, wife, entrepreneur (check out www.geekschool.co.uk) and journalist.

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