Opening a new retail store is exciting — what was once an idea is now coming to life. You’ve come up with the idea, you’ve secured a space, you’ve stocked up on inventory, and you’re prepping your brick-and-mortar space.
The process of opening a retail store, while rewarding, can also be lengthy — and financially draining.
But there are some ways you can generate revenue, and build a little buzz in the process, before your store’s grand opening. This can help fund those last-minute needs before you open your store, as well as give you a head start on making a profit.
Let’s look at some ideas on how you can generate some cash flow before your doors are open.
Sell While Under Construction
If your space is under construction, that doesn’t have to mean it has to be totally off-limits to customers. You could allow shoppers to pop in and browse your limited supply of products pre-opening. This gives shoppers a behind-the-scenes look into what’s going on, and you’re also not obligated to operating under specified hours — just remember to caveat any communications and promotions so shoppers aren’t angered or put off by closed doors.
The Daily Basket is a brand-new store in Germanton, North Carolina, occupying a space that was formerly a hardware store. As the new owners were turning the space over to fit their new vision, they didn’t want to lose the business of the already-established customer base. So, instead of closing down completely for renovations prior to their grand opening, they kept the outdoor space functioning.
“It provided cash flow immediately while we weren’t really set up inside,” says owner Miles Montgomery. While he was there making hands-on preparations for the grand opening, customers could pop in and browse their (limited) selection of goods.
RECOMMENDED READING: You Just Find a Way: The Owners of Delancey Sports on Opening a Store Mid-Pandemic
Open an Online Store
Opening an online store is a great way to build a customer base and get some cash before you’re in business. And if you keep the online store up post-opening, you’re also setting yourself up for future success. Retailers that sell via two channels nearly double their revenue, according to data from Stitch Labs.
If you don’t have all your products yet, or some aren’t easy to ship (perishables, fragile, oversized, heavy, etc.), you can make a few available on your online store. Treat it as a sneak peek to your full product lines, which will be available when you’re store’s open. Alternatively, you can sell gift cards so customers can use them when you finally do open your doors.
FURTHER READING: Learn how to use gift cards to grow your retail business.
When building your online store, remember to include your store location(s) — with a map — phone number, store hours and opening date.
Get Involved With Pop-Up Shops, Markets, and Events
One thing that’s great about physical retail today is that it’s more accessible than ever. You don’t need to have a store, or a fully stocked warehouse, to set up a booth at the local farmers market or rent vendor space at an upcoming festival.
Look for events and opportunities in your local market so you can get your name and business in front of those likely to visit your store. Make sure you tell shoppers that your grand opening is coming up and to extend them an invitation.
Learn more: Make your business future‑proof with Shopify POS. Learn more at shopify.com/pos.
To help you move forward, we’ve already prepared a few resources to help you get started:
- Pop-Up Shop Ideas: Lessons From 10 Successful Shops to Help You Get Started
- 8 Ways a Pop-Up Store Can Boost Revenue and Build Buzz for Your Brand
- Markets, Fairs, and Festivals: How to Choose the Right Events for Your In-Person Sales
Distribute to Local Retailers
Looking into wholesale, even if temporarily, can be a great way to generate cash flow and brand awareness with your target customers. Sell some of your most unique or interesting products to local retail businesses that cater to a similar audience.
“Selling to businesses is a great opportunity before opening your own store because you can make sell relatively large orders and deliver on favorable terms, like 30 or 60 days,” says marketing and growth expert Michael Alexis. “You can then use these funds to help open your own shop.”
Plus, wholesale is a great way to start to build awareness for your store among your local community.
“You can either sell your products wholesale or ask to rent out a small corner of a store to display your products,” says Meaghan Brophy, retail analyst at FitSmallBusiness.com. “Placing your products in stores that are already established is a great way to build brand recognition and sales before your grand opening.”
Employ a Delivery Service
Though customers may not be able to come to the products, you might be able to bring the products to them. As multichannel retail continues to evolve the customer journey, brands are experimenting with creative fulfillment options, some of which cater to the not-yet-opened brick-and-mortar.
Here are just two examples: Starbucks partnered with Alibaba to create Starbucks Delivery Kitchens, and Target acquired delivery service app Shipt (and also offers curbside pickup for the holidays).
You can take care of the delivery yourself if you have the team and processes to make it feasible. This is how Misha Kaura fulfills customers’ orders to their homes, hand-delivering items for a personal touch — which suits the upscale, couture fashion brand.
You can also use delivery services and platforms that are already established. Depending on your location and business, it’s worth looking into apps that handle delivery like Instacart, FreshDirect, Foxtrot, and Postmates, especially if this isn’t a service you plan to continue post-grand opening.
Generate Revenue on Social Media
Social media has now opened the doors to ecommerce. Sellers can use Facebook marketplace and shoppable Instagram posts to sell their wares directly from the social media platforms themselves. This would also require some sort of ecommerce component.
Not keen to set up an online store? Get creative and promote your products on social media for “purchase” before you open.
Brophy recommends this approach because it also plays into marketing your brand and store.
“Advertise your merchandise as it arrives for your store and instruct followers to leave a comment if they’re interested in buying,” she says. “Then you can hold it for them until your grand opening. This helps ensure sales and traffic on your opening day, and creates buzz on your social media profiles.”
FURTHER READING: Learn other ways tobuild buzz for your store grand opening.
Host a Preview Sale
If your space is presentable enough, you can open to doors to a private event. This begins the relationship with potential customers, and also gives shoppers a sneak peek of what to expect from your brand.
Brophy recommends holding a ticketed event, making it more exclusive and buzz-worthy.
“Sell a limited amount of tickets and include refreshments, cocktails, live music, or an activity,” she says. “Guests have early access to purchase your products before anyone else.”
At the end of the event, she recommends sending guests home with gift bags featuring samples, small products, information about your business, a coupon or discount, and an invitation to your grand opening.
Moving Forward With Your Retail Store
Even though you’re busy putting the final touches on your retail store, it’s important to begin marketing and generating brand awareness well before the doors open. This way, customers will be excited about your store to open and to shop your wares.
Looking for more inspiration? Check these ideas on how to use social media marketing to promote your grand opening.