Independent retailing: Tougher than ever?

A fellow RetailWire panelist started a discussion about an acquaintance starting a small retail business without adequate funding or development of a website. She raised the question whether independent merchants are facing tougher obstacles than ever. My take:

The challenges facing small retailers (and large retailers, for that matter) have not really changed over the years. The following questions make sense today and would have made sense 30 years ago:

1. Do I have a clearcut merchandising strategy and point of difference?
2. Do I have the appropriate location for my business?
3. Do I have a marketing plan that will drive profitable sales?
4. Do I have access to financing, and to vendors who will partner in my success?

The questions remain the same, the differences are driven by technology (the need to use e-commerce and social networking) and changing demographics. Financing to support growth is a critical need for any retail business model…making it all the more vital to have a compelling plan.

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