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How to Write An Attention-Grabbing Retail Business Plan

How to Write An Attention-Grabbing Retail Business Plan

Business success is impossible without a good plan. And in the case of retail stores, that means putting in the time and effort on your retail business plan. 

Now, you might be thinking: ‘why do I need a business plan, if I’ve got it all mapped out in my head?’ Business plans can be so much more than another action item on your ever-growing to-do list.  

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What are retail business plans for? 

They’re planning and forecasting documents. Retail business plans explain your business model, who your customers are and how you plan to take your store or online shop from an idea to a profitable reality. 

Why are retail business plans different?

Because retail businesses are different. You know this. Whether you’re selling from a brick-and-mortar store or through an online shop, you have to consider a combination of factors that many other businesses don’t. Think inventory, store supplies, sourcing and supply chains. And, even more complex activities like order fulfillment, deliveries and customer returns. 

You don’t need to write a tome that covers all of these areas, but they will inform how you put your business plan on paper.  


Before you write your retail business plan

But let’s pump the brakes for a second. It might be tempting to dive right in and start writing your business plan as soon as possible. But consider these suggestions before you do. 

Research your market first

“Without a market, a retail firm cannot exist,” said Susan Smith, marketing manager at Velden Engineering. “One of the first things readers will look for when reading your business plan is evidence of a healthy market, an unmet need in the market and how your company is positioned to meet that need. Completing thorough market research before developing your business plan should be a top priority,” she said.

Understand your competitors 

“Most industries are becoming oversaturated at this point, so investors want to know what sets you apart. What makes you unique. Do as much research into your competitors as you do into your own business,” said Gabriel Dungan, CEO and founder of mattress topper company, ViscoSoft. This will give you valuable insight into your own products and services.

Have a growth strategy

Identify a clear growth strategy to strengthen your business plan, suggests Michelle Ebbin, Owner of Australian clothing brand JettProof.  “Most companies focus on market penetration where they sell current products to an already existing market,” said Ebbin. “While that’s a feasible route, you might also want to explore product development by introducing new, innovative products to existing customers.”

“There’s also market development where you try to find new markets for your existing products and diversification for introducing new products to new markets,” she said. Ebbin believes determining a clear growth strategy can increase retailers’ chances of convincing potential investors, who essentially want to know how you will grow your business once it’s up and running. 

TIP: Accountants and financial advisors can help you prepare your retail business plan. 


What to include in your retail business plan 

When it comes to the specifics, include these details.  

Give a business overview

Give a high-level description of your retail business. You can mention your company’s structure, legal name, location and the products or services you’ll sell. Describe whether you will be selling in-store, online or across various channels. Keep this section simple. Use easy-to-understand language. 

Explain your business goals

In this section, you should talk about what you plan to achieve. This doesn’t need to be lengthy or complex. And the goal doesn’t need to be huge, either. For example:

“Our goal is to become the go-to provider of HD gaming and streaming cameras for teenagers in San Francisco within 18-24 months.”  

You could also cover any goals you have about locations, product ranges or online stores. 

Showcase your industry experience

This section is more about you, the owner. Again keep it brief, but say why you’re the right person to take this retail business from an idea to a reality. Mention:

  • Your specialty, such as brick-and-mortar, ecommerce or both. Direct-to-consumer (DTC) is also an option.
  • Any senior roles in well-known national or regional retail businesses
  • Sales or lead generation goals you’ve driven before
  • Successful growth initiatives, like new store openings.

Put simply, this is the section where you showcase your personal and professional drive to take the business forward. 

Set out your marketing strategy 

Here’s where you talk about your store’s image and branding strategy. Cover of some of the fundamentals of retail marketing, including your plans for the 4Ps of retail marketing. Here’s a quick reminder about what they are:  

  • Product: What you’ll sell and your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). 
  • Pricing: How much your products will cost and why you’ve chosen these price points. 
  • Place: Where you’re going to sell your products (online, in-store or omnichannel).
  • Promotion: How you’re going to promote both your store and the products you will sell.  

Again, this section doesn’t need to be overlong or complex. If you want to dive into the details—or provide a complete marketing plan—you can do this in an appendix at the end of the plan. 

Financial strategy and forecast

Nine times out of 10, this is what people reading your business plan will most want to see.

“At the end of the day, your company will be judged on its capacity to generate a profit,” said Will Cannon, CEO of Signaturely, an e-signature software company. “Investors will want to see some data related to your startup demands and revenue estimates, no matter how succinct and appealing your retail business plan is,” he said. 

Think about including your:

  • Estimated capital requirements
  • Profit and revenue model
  • Estimated sales volume
  • A break-even point calculation
  • Balance sheet projections
  • Cash flow projections.

Above all, ground these figures in reason.

Detail the management structure

Explain your management setup. This will make things move much more easily throughout the early settling-in time. Everyone will understand where they stand and you will know how you plan to manage people on a daily basis. This strategy should include information such as the number of team members you’ll hire, their roles and how those roles fit into the wider plan. 

Avoid these common mistakes

A good business plan is as much about what you leave out as what you put in. 

Too much detail

“Potential partners and investors will not waste time poring over hundreds of pages of rambling nonsense,” said Nick Edwards, Director at Snow Finders, a ski holiday company in the UK.“ Long blocks of text should be avoided, and instead, visuals and graphics should be used to substitute prose, with any exceptionally heavy content being attached as appendices if necessary.”

Poor financial planning 

For example, some landlords take a percentage of sales as part of the rent. And it’s common for rent to increase annually. Your retail business plan should account for growing expenses, taxes and wider market influences. 

Spelling and grammar

Remember the basics. Grammar and spelling errors show you haven’t put diligence into the planning process. And that can undermine how partners and potential investors view the plan.  


How to strengthen your business plan 

As you’ll have noticed by now, you need to keep a few different audiences in mind while writing your business plan. In most cases, there are three:

  • Potential investors: People or businesses who want to back your business with capital, in return for future profits or part-ownership.
  • Potential business partners: Suppliers, brands and business partners who may want to supply goods or services to your business, or even help you run the whole show. 
  • Banks, lenders and insurers: Financial institutions that you may need for credit cards, overdrafts, loans or revolving credit facilities. 

“Be wary about exaggerating your numbers or laying out too difficult or impossible things,” said Stacey Kane, Business Development Lead at Easy Merchant. “You want the investor who finds flaws in your plan to be the exception, not the norm. With this perspective, you can strengthen your view of what can be done with research and transparent results. Finding ways to show how valuable your idea is will also help make them more likely to invest,” she said.  


Finishing your retail business plan 

Done well, business plans are much more than a helpful written guide to your business strategy. They’re a resource to attract future business partners, and even a foundation for securing outside funding. Don’t put writing your retail business plan on the backburner for too long—it could be one of the first stepping stones to your very own thriving retail business. 

Ready to write your retail business plan? Talk to a Lightspeed product expert to discover how the right POS technology can help you show investors and partners that you mean business. 

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More of this topic: Starting a Business