Posted: Mon 4th Feb 2013
Successful online retailers are increasingly looking for opportunities to meet customers face to face. Pop-up shops are one solution; another is to open your own small shop. Marc Loud of Park Insurance Services, offers his tops tips for online businesses planning to go offline.
Recently there's been a lot of talk about how the internet is taking over the retail sector, particularly with high street mainstays like HMV and Blockbuster going into administration, writes Marc. But the high street is far from dead, and it is increasingly the case that businesses which have prospered online are now migrating back into the 'real' world. If you're considering taking the high street leap, here are my top tips to smooth the transition.
1. Find the best site for your shop
Location can mean the difference between success and failure. Before you start looking at individual shops, check which areas of town are seeing decent footfall versus those which are experiencing decline.
2. Weigh the pros and cons of buying or leasing premises
Buying or leasing demands careful consideration. In buying's favour, you will eventually own the property, but it is much more of a long-term commitment. With leasing, you will never own the property but the short-term costs are usually cheaper and carry less commitment.
3. Research the local infrastructure
Things like parking, traffic and frequency of local bus services are important factors to consider as they may impact upon the number of people shopping on the high street. If you're also going to continue operating online from your new premises, it's vital to check what internet connection speeds are being received in the neighbourhood.
4. Find out whether there are any hidden insurance costs
Check before buying a property whether the area is prone to flooding, adverse weather conditions or other risks that will push up the cost of your insurance.
5. Make sure you have sufficient insurance cover for contents and stock
Having a physical shop brings new opportunities but also new risks. Make sure that your shop's insurance fully covers all of your contents and stock, or you may find that when the worst happens you receive only a fraction of the value lost.
6. Get business interruption insurance
As well as having cover to insure your building itself, you should also get business interruption cover as part of your shop's insurance. By doing so you can ensure that you don't lose money by being unable to trade for a period.
7. Cover yourself against slips, falls and other accidents
People are no longer digital as far as you're concerned - they're flesh-and-blood humans who are remarkably accident prone! So make sure your shop's insurance covers you against potential claims for compensation claims by members of the public injured in your store.
8. Find the best deals on banking, card payment services, etc
Take the time to study the websites of various banks, and arrange appointments with at least two different local business advisers.
9. Find a reliable source for legal advice
Health and safety and employment law are just two pitfalls waiting for you in the 'offline' world. Many legal firms, banks and other organisations can provide you with regular, and often much-needed, legal advice.
10. Fit your shop out to give you an edge
Finally, don't blend into the urban scenery - make sure both your shop front and the interior have character to really draw those 'real life' high street customers through the doors! Marc Loud is a partner and commercial Manager at Park Insurance Services in Bristol. The family-owned firm meets unique insurance requirements for businesses of all types.
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