Retail business start-up checklist

Opening your own retail store involves a lot of planning and preparation. This checklist covers what you need to do when opening a fixed point-of-sale location designed to attract walk-in customers.

For general information on business start-up, consult our Business start-up checklist.

  • Business start-up checklist
    When you're setting up your business, you need to ensure that all of your bases are covered. Consider the following steps as you navigate through the business start-up phase.

Another option is buying an existing business — find out more.

  • Buying a business
    Find out what you need to know before buying a business: where to look, how to evaluate potential acquisitions, and what a fair price would be.
  • Franchising
    Learn more about buying a franchise as an option for starting a business.

Knowing the retail industry

The retail industry is ever-changing. Make sure you understand the influences and the effects that changing economic times could potentially have on your business.

Retail support and advocacy

Setting up your retail store

Finding the best location for your store is a key factor in your success. The best way to start is by getting a demographic overview of the area(s) you're interested in, like the average age and income of its residents, the size of the population, as well as nearby road and foot traffic. You'll also want to know where your competitors are located.

Once you've set up your store, you'll need signs both inside and out to draw customers in and to help them find what they're looking for.

Find out what kind of insurance you will need to best protect your business in the event of losses.

  • Insurance
    Explore business-specific insurance coverage that is available to protect you.

Use market research to make more informed business decisions about the 4 P's: product, price, placement and promotion.

You will need to find suppliers and establish relationships with them in order to build and manage your inventory. It's important to have the right amount of inventory at the right times, so that your capital is not tied up unnecessarily, and so you don't have empty shelves. You may also need suppliers to provide you with the equipment and furnishings needed for your operations (cash registers, bar coding system, shelving, shopping carts, seating, etc.)

  • Supply chain management
    Effective management of your supply chain can help you create a seamless process from pre-production right through to delivery and consumption.

Your prices must be competitive, but must also cover your expenses and include a profit margin. The price your competitors charge for similar products and services can give you a good idea of what price to set for your own.

  • Pricing
    Know the factors that will help you determine the payment you will receive in exchange for your goods or services.

Advertising is essential to let people know about your business, and help you attract customers.

Complying with retail store regulations

Find out what regulations may be required of your retail business. Search our permits and licences database or contact your local municipality.

Hiring and training your employees

Your employees represent your business — so be sure to emphasize superior customer service. Satisfied customers are often return customers. Depending on the type of business you are setting up, you may require the services of a store manager, human resources manager, or customer service department.

  • Human resources regulations
    It is important to understand your responsibilities as an employer with regards to hiring, labour standards, wages, employment equity, and more.
  • Job Bank — Employer resources
    Resources to find, hire , manage and train employees as well as handle their departure. Access regulatory, wage and labour market information.
  • Criminal record checks and security screening
    Find out how to obtain a criminal record check to protect your business and your employees, and to increase client confidence.

Additional resources

Whether you are just starting out or are an experienced entrepreneur who's been in business for years, you can never be too informed when it comes to your business.

  • Starting a business
    Want to be your own boss? Find out how to start a business.
  • Business support organizations
    Seeking the advice of peers, professional business counsellors and coaches can help you transition from new business owner to experienced entrepreneur.
  • Contact the Canada Business Network
    The Canada Business Network has centres across the country that offer guidance, information and resources to help make your journey in business a success.
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