English pop singer Rachel Stevens just about sums it up for all of us: “I love going to my supermarket. Sounds so rock n’ roll, eh?” The fact is that much of our community life revolves around our local supermarkets. That’s because the supermarket is where we purchase our basic commodities, discover new products on the move on our local shelves, and even socialize.
But even if you’re a businessman who knows the value of a supermarket, starting up a supermarket business is another matter entirely. Upfront, you’ll realize that you’ll be entering a resource-heavy industry with fierce competition and infamously low profit margins. It’s safe to assume that you won’t recoup your losses within your first year of operations, even if your business is doing well.
If you’re still up to the challenge with knowledge of these circumstances—perhaps you’re passionate about the food and retail industry, or you see yourself filling a gap in your community life that other big supermarket outlets haven’t yet—then we’ll lay out the details right here. From managing your capital, licensing operations, keeping day-to-day operations going, and preserving your customers’ trust, here’s a quick assortment of tips for starting up your own supermarket business.
1. Decide on funding. First things first, a big business venture like a supermarket will only work if you have sufficient funding. Your seed fund could encompass part of your savings, contributions from investors, or applying for a bank loan. Whatever the case may be, consolidate all the plans that will guarantee your financial readiness to own your own supermarket.
2. Determine your business name and brand. Start the planning process in earnest by thinking of a unique name for your supermarket and figuring out its branding. Choose distinctive colors, shapes, and taglines that will set your business apart from its existing competitors.
3. Scout around for your ideal location. Location is key. What will drive a balanced, all-encompassing marketing strategy is an accurate picture of your customer base, and this will come from your prospective location. We recommend gathering as much information in advance about the local area’s age demographic, accessibility of transportation, and the like. Take note of all the little details in the community that could influence their purchasing habits.
4. Go about licensing your business. One of the hardest parts of opening any business is the red tape, and an endeavor as big as a supermarket is no exception. Read up on how to get a certificate of registration and a business permit, how to rent or buy property, and how to pay all necessary fees to secure the location. When in doubt about the payments you need to make and the ordinances you’ll need to follow, tap the services of a consultant, realtor, lawyer, or representative of the office of the city government as needed.
5. Procure all the necessary hardware and software. When much of the red tape has been accounted for, you can start procuring all the necessary hardware and software. Perhaps foremost among your acquisitions are working computer monitors and accounting software for your business. Work to complete the setup of your supermarket’s cashier stations, back office, and security desk.
6. Begin a search for product suppliers and staff. Technology aside, you’ll need to populate your supermarket with the right staff and the right partners. Start a search for skilled and hardworking service staff to join your team. On top that, build a directory of both the local and foreign suppliers whose products you’ll want on your shelves.
7. Establish an airtight system for managing point of sale, cash flow, and inventory. A fledgling supermarket business would definitely benefit from an efficient ERP system (short for Enterprise Resource Planning). This is a system that utilizes a centralized database for data on each customer’s point of sale (POS), the store’s inventory, and the updated cash flow all at once. This applies in the simple case of being able to tell a customer on-site if the item they want is available or not, based on up-to-date data from the inventory. It can also help organize and keep track of your overall inventory and how you can avoid over and under stocking of items.
For a supermarket, precision and timeliness in the handling of data is crucial. It’s not hard to imagine how much the consistent, updated, and easily accessible data would improve business operations, keeping customers happy and content.
8. Think of how the community can truly benefit from your supermarket business. Perhaps the biggest challenge of running a supermarket business, and one that’s not so easy to concretize, is to keep it relevant. Supermarkets, boutique groceries, convenience stores, and bodegas are all a dime a dozen—what will make yours stand out? It’s time to think as well about how to put meaning into your business. Some great starting points are to showcase a wide range of quality local producers, to partner with a beneficiary from a local charity, or to advocate green shopping practices.
Once again, if it’s a chance you’re willing to take, then we hope it will work out for the best! Here’s to the opening of your future storefront, and the wish that you’ll serve many a satisfied customer.