Four Important Factors for Site Selection
By Fran Stevenson, VP, Retail Strategic Accounts
Market planning and site selection is not based solely on where your target audience lives anymore. As consumers' schedules get more complicated and competition increases, researching your next ideal location and market has become much more complicated.
There are many factors that can go into identifying, evaluating and acquiring new locations. When selecting the perfect market and site, always keep the following 4 areas in mind.
Any location you consider should be easy to access. Look for places that are nearby one or more major roads (in good condition) and are easily served by public transportation, if applicable. If it makes sense for your brand, also research storefronts that are within walking distance of neighborhoods or high-rise apartments. (Note: if you are currently in a location with a lot of pedestrian traffic, make sure you have an amazing window display to draw those potential customers inside!)
Besides being easy to access, consider how accessible other places are from you. Consider a location that’s near other stores as well as places that people visit regularly, such as a grocery store, bank or post office.
Also consider a place that is easily visible from the road. Having your sign visible to traffic is constant advertisement for your brand.
Check for compatibility with nearby stores when researching a site. The ideal location will have neighboring stores with a similar target audience that sell products or services that complement what you offer. For example, as a high-end boutique shop, a great location for you might be next to a nail salon and a bistro. If you’re a record shop, consider finding a location near a music venue or vintage store. With this strategy, you are helping create a bigger retail experience than you could offer alone.
Similarly, avoid setting up shop near direct competition, especially if they are a more established brand. If you do end up by a competitor, you will have to not only share the market, but will also need to come up with a competitive advantage to draw customers to you versus the other.
Except for cities like New York and Chicago, parking availability is very important for your business. How many times have you decided to skip a store because you couldn’t find a parking spot? A good measure for retailers to follow is the ratio of 3:1, or 3 square feet of parking space for 1 square foot of store.
Not only should parking be readily available, but also consider the layout of the parking lot or garage. If it’s easy to find a parking spot but then difficult to get into it because the spaces or lanes are too narrow, this can also deter shoppers from returning in the future.
Beyond the base rent, consider other costs that may affect your bottom line. If you’re in a retail strip, how much will it cost you to contribute to lawn care, utilities and security? If the location is remote, how much more money will you need to spend on marketing? Is the location ready for move-in, or will it require significant repairs? What are your common area maintenance (CAM) expenses? These costs can quickly add up and make a seemingly cheap option into a money pit.