Clothes are big business in Britain, with fashion-conscious shoppers spending around £20 billion pounds on their wardrobe every year. An equally large clothing retail sector exists to sate our insatiable appetite for looking good, all too happy to fill our hands with goodies in exchange for our hard-earned cash. The shops we so love come in all shapes and sizes, from large department stores such as Marks and Spencer, to high street chains like Topshop and Urban Outfitters, to the thousands of independent clothes stores scattered across our little island.
Looking at our appetite for excess, it might seem that this is a market just waiting to sweep up the budding entrepreneur and welcome him to its money-filled abode. Unfortunately for you, it isn’t that simple. Clothing is an incredibly highly-developed retail sector and the established brands have an almost draconian grip on the market, leaving little room for anyone else. For those who want to muscle in on their success, the key is to find a gap, dart into it, and then put in an awful lot of time and work. Still committed to the idea? Then read on to discover the path to success.
The Necessary Skills
Like most retail-based roles, owning a clothes shop doesn’t require any formal qualifications. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s suitable for everyone. To improve your chances of success, there are certain skills that you need to acquire.
The clothing market changes season by season, with fashions changing continuously. Sales will rise and fall based upon the time of year, with typical busy periods between March and May and September to December. If you own a business, stock control is crucial to meet the demand of your buyers. You must have enough of popular lines when it’s busy, but also ensure that unsold clothes don’t pile up when trade slackens or the season changes. To predict changes, you’re going to need a detailed understanding of fashion, and to apprehend them you need to be well-organised. It can be really useful to invest in an electronic point of sale system, which can record each item you sell and calculate how much stock you have left. As well as allowing you to keep your shop well stocked, this also allows you to track which lines are most popular. If your premises are low on storage space, consider paying for garment storage at an outfit like Warehouse Storage Solutions Limited, so that you can have extra stock close to hand without cluttering up your shop.
Serving the Customer
A good way to distinguish yourself from your larger competitors is through the service you offer your customers. As a smaller outfit, you should have enough time to personalise your service, so think about distinguishing yourself by taking measurements and making alterations, provided you have the necessary experience, as well as through being friendly and approachable. Plenty of people who choose to shop in independent stores are there to see the owner as much as the clothes, so make sure you have the necessary people skills to keep them coming back.
The Nuts and Bolts
You might only be interested in the clothes and fashion, but running a successful clothing shop requires more than mere passion – you also need some business expertise. Brush up your numerical skills, as you need to be competent with figures if you’re going to be calculating stock levels, working out profit margins, negotiating prices and completing tax returns.
Also consider the time you’ll need to put in. In the beginning, when you are understaffed and just establishing yourself, six day weeks and long hours are normal, particularly in the lead-up to Christmas.
Underlying all of this should of course be an interest in the enterprise you’re running. Passion can’t take you all the way to the top, but it can certainly help you part of the way. If you have the enthusiasm and the commitment to learn the skills you need then you’re already on your way to success, so it’s time to make your dreams a reality.