SOLD ON Retail

Anne Horton of Tonik Retail advises would-be shop owners by Gaynor Edwards


for many, opening and running a shop, and being their own boss, is a life’s ambition. As Anne Horton, consultant and MD of Tonik Retail explains, while it may be harder these days, there is still money to be made in retail. The risks are greater, the banks are less supportive and retail success in the 21st century involves a multi-platform approach, creative thinking and community spirit – as well as an understanding of the industry, maths and the right choice of location.

“There’s no substitute for handson experience and research,” says Anne. “If you have a location in mind for your store, consider getting a job locally in retail so that you can observe your potential customers from the shopfloor.”

The potential retailer needs to assess when it’s busy, when it’s quiet and who forms the passing trade – how affluent are they, what are they buying and how much will they spend in one transaction? Does this demographic match the target market? This will provide a starting point for estimating potential takings.

The biggest expenses tend to be rent and rates, so it’s essential to weigh up the cost of a prime location with the increased passing trade that it should deliver. “The real trick is to identify an upcoming area where you can benefit from lower rents,” says Anne. “Here all aspects need to be factored in: are you a niche market that will attract devotees, and does the area have complementary or competing businesses?

“Research, understand your business and your customers requirements first, then work out the figures to see if your business plan stacks up,” continues Anne. “If the maths doesn’t work and you are still committed to the idea, consider sharing a space, renting a pop-up shop or a market stall, or having a ‘by appointment’ studio and an e-commerce website.

“‘No matter how passionate you feel,” Anne warns, “you must follow your figures first, as ignoring these can quickly turn your dream into a living nightmare.”


Whether the shop ultimately exists in the real or virtual world, today’s retailer must deliver style, substance and service. Retail has become a multi-channel industry with online presence and social networking integral to a store’s success – these should promote online sales, drive traffic to the physical store and encourage repeat business via positive reviews.

The window display and interior space of the physical store must also reflect the lifestyle and tastes of your ideal customer, whilst being easy to navigate. Anne explains that “Whilst the longer customers stay instore the higher the chance of purchase, they should stay because they are enjoying the experience, not because they are waiting or searching for an item. Only positive experiences will result in return visits.”

Whether online or instore, service is what seals the sale. Never underestimate how a smile and friendly exchange with staff can lift someone’s day. By going the extra mile to help a customer, they are likely to return the favour with loyalty and repeat sales – giving the retailer even more reason to smile.

For more information on Tonik Retail visit the website:

208 Bermondsey Street
t: 0207 378 967


“whether online or
instore, service is
what seals the sale

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