Startup entrepreneurs usually shy away from establishing a brick and mortar store because of the cost implications. Oftentimes, the expenses one may incur can far outpace the limited capital a new business has in its war chest. Thankfully, the advent of the internet and the growing popularity of bazaars have given businesses a great springboard and testing ground for products and ideas, with lesser cost considerations than a traditional storefront.
But as the brand grows, there comes a time when a business may need to set up a physical store to establish more credibility with their market. This may come in the form of a small stall, a hole-in-the-wall type, or a full fledged store. But how does a business grow from a bazaar to a storefront?
Entrepreneur.com.ph culled some pointers from retail outlets Dean & Trent, Goods of Desire (G.O.D) and branding expert Cedric Sta. Ana.
1. Use bazaars to gain traction for your product: Product recognition is one of the hallmarks of a successful brand, and creating good buzz for your bazaar product is a good springboard to a full fledged retail store.
Cultivating customer loyalty is one of the reasons Timmy Ang of Dean & Trent has managed to grow his business into an up-and-coming fashion label. Though risky and complicated to learn at first, picking the right bazaar became his way of introducing his brand to potential customers.
“Selling men’s items was difficult in the beginning because guys usually don’t go to bazaars to buy but to grab a bite and stay in the food area,” he said. So, he began marketing his products by coming up with classic designs that caught the attention of male shoppers, slowly building credibility for his brand and establishing a loyal following.
Her passion for clothes led Pamela de Guzman of G.O.D to become an import merchant, reselling items she bought abroad in local trade shows and bazaars. Soon enough, her unique finds were flying off the shelves in the events she joined.
“A merchandiser has to have an eye for uniqueness, and that is how I built my brand in bazaars. Bazaars give you access to a good number of people, but they also challenge you to get the attention of the spending public. Getting their vote of confidence will help your brand stand out,” she said.
Sta. Ana on the other hand says a bazaar is the perfect venue to build consensus for a startup brand because of the word of mouth it generates. It can also serve as a laboratory to explore new ideas and discard bad ones.
“This is your first school before you can start your own store. The mistakes you make here can teach you the ins and outs of the business you are in, and help you lick those problems when you have your storefront. Making mistakes when there’s a lot of money on the line can be costly, so it’s better that you learn early on what to do,” he said.
2. Make sure the demand is there: Setting up a brick and mortar store can set you back a hefty sum, so do your homework and start evaluating your cash flow and profit projections. Also, learn what customers are looking for by using your bazaar experiences to pinpoint what products to carry and what to drop. Ang says frequent queries from customers finally pushed him to open a traditional store, but not before figuring out if his financials could handle the transition.
“Through the bazaars, I met people who were interested in my products, and one of them offered me a leased space in a shopping mall. Thankfully, my bazaar sales were doing well then, so I had the courage and cash flow to foot the bill. I figured since customers were always asking where they could buy my products, I might as well take the opportunity to set up my own shop,” he said.