Five Things Every Retail Startup Should Know
To us, there is no client quite so invigorating as the retail entrepreneur who has a big idea and grand ambitions. When we sit down with these driven and energetic startup visionaries, we feel their passion. We also feel a sense of responsibility.
Many of these young brands come to Medallion Retail thinking all they need is a quick sign or a “cool, revolving display, like the one I saw in that boutique in Soho.” It’s reality check time. Our job at this point is to maintain the passion level while giving our new client the cold, hard facts about creating and building a retail business.
We function as an external marketing department, helping our client build a plan; an objective-driven, budget-respecting, growth-oriented, contingency filled document that serves as a roadmap to retail success. Practical, actionable, focused but fluid, this plan always features what we have come to call The Retail Realities of the Startup.
Prove you’re special. Your startup investors and your mom might think you have a groundbreaking product. But unless Target or Bed Bath & Beyond feel the same, you have some work to do. Find your unique selling proposition, and then make it obvious. For example, the displays we created for start-up Hickies, an elastic shoe lacing system, have the product themselves woven into the units, showcasing use and uniqueness.
Make a splash, then continue to make waves. Go out big, make some noise and grab the attention you deserve. Then don’t stop. Building and sustaining momentum is critical to long-term retail success. Maintain and refresh your display units; always look new. Create a robust product – customer – retailer feedback loop, work your learnings and evolve your business.
Remember that clarity trumps cleverness. You are building a brand, not a tagline. When introducing a new product at retail, it is critical to communicate key attributes and benefits clearly and from a brand perspective. You want straightforward language and accessible, engaging graphics; avoid over-design and coy, inside jokes. The shopper doesn’t have time to figure you out. For our client SmartBox – a purveyor of themed, packaged experiences – we created an informational display that explained the product at a glance in shopper-friendly language.
Make your dollars work hard. Most often, money is tight for a retail startup. You want your in-store presence to work as hard as it can for as few dollars as possible. This means planning. Not only for current signage and display, but for tomorrow’s store presence. We create signage and displays that are cost-effective, thoughtful, durable and modular – a strong brand foundation for a forward-thinking start-up.
Fit in. Literally. Some startup retailers come to us with big ideas about endcaps and four-way displays. We counsel them to think a little smaller. The reality is that new, untried products often receive less-than-perfect shelf and counter placement (and those primo spaces can be expensive). We help our startups make the most of their allotted space by being creative with fixture flexibility, product display, non-traditional material usage and unexpected design touches. The result is small space, big impact.