Make your shop a success

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  • TV retail guru Mary Portas shares her ten top tips on how to be a success in the tricky world of retail

    1. Have a unique selling point
    Ask yourself, “Why would the customer come to me instead anyone else?” It might be the fact that you’re the cheapest or you have decided you’re going to have a place that is such a great environment, that people just can’t stay away.

    2. Know the marketplace
    It’s one thing to have a great idea, but you must understand your community and audience. Do your research. Ask friends and friends of friends what turns them on when they’re buying.

    3. Forget about location, location, location
    It may have been Marks & Spencer’s mantra, but M&S is selling mass to the masses. Get the formula right and people will travel out of their way to find your shop.

    4. Market yourself
    There’s no point existing if no one knows about you. Consider partnering with other businesses to promote each other. Do research in your local area. Think about doing special events and customer evenings and market your shop as a place where people can meet, as well as buy.

    5. Get inspiration from the big names
    Go to large, successful shops and decide what they’re doing right and wrong. Take a notepad with you and write down the names of the companies that supply the products you love.

    6. Keep up-to-date with shopping trends
    Buy trade magazines relevant to your area, find out what new product launches are planned for the near future and what the press are talking about.

    7. Create a place where people want to spend time
    Think about the music, the ambience, the lighting and the smell of it. Don’t think of it as a shop, but as a space that you can fill as creatively as possible. Your shop should be like your home.

    8. Think what you have to offer stockists
    If you want to stock Dolce & Gabbana, you’ll have to sell yourself. You can tell them you have a beautiful boutique, with high fashion credentials in the area and that nobody else is selling their brand. Your audience is your bargaining power.

    9. Lead, don’t follow – don’t try and copy the high street
    People want something unique from their small businesses. If you’ve got style and originality, people will buy from you.

    10. Know your customers personally and give brilliant service
    That’s the most important tip. A wonderful, efficient personal service is the one area big stores just can’t compete in.

    How to Shop with Mary, Queen of Shops by Mary Portas (BBC Books) is on sale now.

    Discover more about Mary and how to shop at

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