How to Set Up a School and Office Supplies Store

A school and office supplies store is almost as stable as the food business, because students and offices will continue to consume needed supplies even if there is a recession. Even better is that the products sold are non-perishable.
Below are some of the important things to note if you plan to get into this business:
• A suitable location. Remember that school and office supplies stores sell convenience goods. People will buy from the nearest outlet that sells at a reasonable price. Your location must be near your potential consumers, and so being near schools and commercial establishments is an advantage. While malls are the best locations, a start-up may find it hard to meet the rental rates. There are smaller malls that may still be affordable for a small business.
• Negotiate the lease contract. If you will be renting your store spaces do not just accept the contract given by the landlord. In most cases there is room for negotiation. Do not be shy to haggle with the rental rates, escalation clause, repairs, etc.
• Invest in display fixtures. Some display fixtures are expensive but they are your silent sales force. Not only do they make your merchandise more attractive but they also serve to secure against theft.
• Plan your layout. For those with self-service, this is critical. Study similar stores and see where they place the different categories of merchandise. Plan where to place your merchandise to induce the largest sales and profits. This is why some place the most sought after items at the back so that consumers will see the other items first.
• Buy direct whenever feasible. It may be more convenient to buy from a wholesaler but, generally speaking, the fewer middlemen, the cheaper you can obtain your goods. So try buying directly from the manufacturer or importer if you can meet their volume.
• Always be sourcing new items to sell. Retailing is a dynamic business and you must always be on the lookout for new items to sell. You should also be prepared to discontinue slow moving inventory.
• Have a market-based pricing strategy. Survey your competitors continuously regarding their pricing. Consumers do not know your cost but they know the price of your competitors.
• Have a Point of Sale (P.O.S.) System . Do not be left behind by technological advances. With the rapid decrease in prices in POS equipment, even the small entrepreneur can afford this now. Since you will be dealing with thousands of items it will be impossible to track each one without a computerized system. Buy software with an inventory management and purchasing module integrated with your POS.
• Have a planogram for your merchandise display. A planogram is a drawing or diagram that shows the ideal placement of merchandise. It may be done manually or with a computer program. Having this template will enable you to maximize revenue and profits from your display. Not only will your store look more orderly but this will assist in inventory control as the location of an item will be easier to determine.
• Protect against both internal and external theft. Deploy CCTVs at strategic locations and have rules and procedures to minimize the risk of theft. It is important to have these control measures in place as early as possible because applying them later may cause employee resentment and resistance.
The school and office supplies business has great potential but there are many other things to learn if you want to start a school and office supplies business.
If you want to know more, BusinessCoach Inc., a leading business seminar provider, is conducting seminars on this venture.
Click here to view details of the training program on: How to Start and Manage a School and Office Supplies Store »
*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.