How To Start A Retail Business: A 6-Step Comprehensive Guide

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How to Start a Retail Business in Singapore?

Starting a retail business in Singapore can be one of your best decisions ever. A retail business, which is commonly referred to as shops, kiosks, and many more, is an efficient and innovative means to sell consumers’ needs or products.

The extent of retail sales growth in Singapore can not be overemphasized. Singapore is home to craftsmen, local artisans, and business personnel. In addition, we have areas in the retail sector such as speciality retail, food & beverages, general retailing, work, home & lifestyle, and wholesale & logistics. These areas vary but are the major retail sectors in Singapore.

However, it should be noted that not all companies or persons can start a retail business; a license has to be obtained. In addition, not all grounds can be implemented for commercial practices; for example, residential environments can not be used for any exchange services.

What is a Retail Business?

In contrast to wholesaling, the retail business is a common way of selling one’s goods or services to customers by inducing their pleasure, usage, or consumption to earn profit. Therefore, if you are buying from that local woman kiosk in your neighbourhood, you are patronizing her retail business. And in other terms, you may have the goal to buy from a manufacturer or wholesaler and sell in smaller quantities. This is also retailing.

Retail businesses influence the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of a country’s economy. In Singapore’s economy, the retail sector contributes 1.4 per cent to the GDP and employs 3 per cent of the country’s workforce.

We can verily say that retailing can begin in numerous forms. For one, you can obtain your goods from a manufacturer or wholesaler, offer your services to your customers, or work digitally and make deliveries of the customer’s product without a physical shop or kiosk insight. In Singapore, every e-commerce retailer that falls under Singapore Broadcasting Authority (SBA) Act, all other licensing broadcasting services, online computer services provided by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Internet Content Providers (ICPs) inclusive, must be licensed. And since all internet content is considered broadcast content, individuals must then take note.

Either way, it can be rightly said that the nature of the retail business would determine the approval needed or licenses required to create a retail store in Singapore. The process is quite straightforward and easy to obtain. In this guide, we are to explore the various processes needed to achieve this. Be rest assured.

Moneyyy, it’s a gas!

Close up shot of dollar bills

Very few things have more power in altering the course of your business than money. It’s an essential commodity that you need to open a store and hence it’s imperative that you plan this aspect of building your business in the best possible way. Here’s how you can get started on this.

How much will the whole affair cost?

What if things go south?

Opening a retail store is one thing while owning a retail shop for a substantial period for it to get established is an entirely different thing! Have a rough estimate of how much time it’s going to take for you to reach the break-even point, that is when the total cost and total revenue are equal.

Is there a deficit?

Retail business owner checking funds

Don’t worry, you don’t have to Google “how to open a retail store with no money”, and bang your head around getting those finances in place! To make things easy for you, In this section we exclusively talk about how you can look for alternate means of getting the required funds:

  • Bootstrapping: This basically involves anything and everything inside of the outside circle! So all the money that you invest from your own savings + all the money that you borrow from your inner circle such as friends, family, colleagues, etc., fall into this category, as there’s no external funding involved herein.
  • Small business loans and grants: The U.S. Small Business Administration is a special government agency that supports small shop businesses and entrepreneurs in their journey of starting up. There are a variety of schemes under which you can avail loans and grants to acquire funds for your business.
  • Angel investors: These are affluent individuals who invest their own money into startup ventures. They typically help you take your business off-ground, and get started on selling. The best way to find angel investors is through networking. Ask your friends or family members if they know any such investors. Besides, you can also find angel investors on different platforms or websites such as AngelList, Angel Capital Association, Gust, Angel Forum, Angel Investment Network, etc.
  • Venture capital: VC is a form of private equity and a type of financing that investors provide to startup companies and small businesses that are believed to have long-term growth potential. Although VCs won’t be of much help at the beginning of setting up a business, they will come in handy at the later stages when you want to expand your business further.
  • Crowdfunding: It basically is a method of raising funds for a business or project by collecting relatively small amounts of money from a large number of contributors using an online platform. Indiegogo, SeedInvest Technology, Mighty Cause, StartEngine, GoFundMe, and Patreon are the top 6 crowdfunding platforms that you can look into.

Again, planning financials is something that all of us inherently seem to know for whatever reasons. However, if this looks intimidating, you might want to consider roping in an expert to take care of this because this is an essential aspect of any “steps to open a retail store” handbook that you’ll ever come across.

Deciding on branding, concept, and design

Your branding is effectively the common thread that ties together your shop’s name, your business’ logo, the shop’s interior design, the tone of voice you use when communicating with and advertising to customers, the way the shop’s website looks and feels, and the posts you share on social media – making all of these facets recognisable as a part of your business.

Why? Because the new design did not connect with Gap’s target market. Instead of warning its target market about its rebrand, Gap simply released its new designs, taking away the identity of the brand. Its audience simply did not resonate with the corporate-esque replacement, which meant they quickly reverted to the original design and wasted lots of money in the process!

When you’re thinking about your brand design, make sure it’s accessible. Many startups are all guilty of wanting to be perceived as ‘top end’ – however, you can achieve this too well, and frighten off your customers with the perception that your products will be too expensive and out of their budget.

Branding should also be memorable. Isobel Perl, founder and CEO of Perl Cosmetics, told us that creating a standout brand is key to attracting new customers: “There is a plethora of competition in the skincare/beauty industry with tens of thousands of new businesses being set up each year.

It’s also about the finishing touches. Branding might seem like an area you can save – but it’s actually the most visible aspect of your business in most cases. I nvest in the services of a designer or design company who’ll put time, skill, and effort into transforming your vision and energy into an amazing branding concept.

Product Perl Cosmetics