10 Secrets of Running a Profitable Retail Store

by | Jul 29, 2020

From crossing items off the honey-do list to finding the perfect pair of boots, your customers should be able to find everything they’re seekingHowever, providing what customers need doesn’t always result in lucrative sales. That’s why, in recognition of National Independent Retailer Month, we’ve compiled 10 secrets to boost sales in your retail store. Let’s nail down some specific tactics!

Create a niche

What kind of niche can you market to in your store? This depends on your location and buyers and will be personalized to customers you regularly receive.

Are you in a new town with houses popping up every day? Then your niche might be new homeowners and your hot items might be kits with everything a new homeowner might need.

Is your store located in a tourist destination? Then items tourists might need or want could be your niche. Outdoor recreation gear, summer clothing, fishing and watercraft are all possibilities.

An excellent example of niche markets are the prevalent breweries and outdoor activities that draw people to Central Oregon. The microbrew industry has turned local businesses into nationally known corporations. Hydro Flask, Humm Kombucha, Ruff Wear for dogs, and other companies have been sparked by regional interests and their products are wildly popular nationwide.

If you’re not sure what your niche market is, then ask yourself: “What is my customer’s biggest need?” Your store should be the best solution to fulfill their desires. Whatever the niche, stock your shelves accordingly.


Creating a niche is the ultimate customization. To go along with the niche market, some stores hire designers and industry specialists to draw in and hook customers. Does your hardware store specialize in crafting kitchen floors or luxurious bathrooms? A designer might help to give your business that high-end boost. Do you have a furniture store? Hiring an interior designer to help customers chose the perfect living room or bedroom set is a huge attraction. Do you have a mainstream pharmacy? Specializing in holistic wellness and its products and hiring someone who specializes in alternative treatments is a great way to attract shoppers.

Serve the community

Community service is a must for the success of any small businessLocal independent businesses need to be involved in their communities to attract and retain customers. And the possibilities for that involvement are endless. Get involved in rebuilding a park, painting the library, or home repair for someone in need. Sponsor youth sports, not just with a check, but with involvement. Volunteer at community events such as fun runs, food drives, or festivalsCommunity service goes a long way in the hearts of citizens. It also builds a bond between you and your customer. They’ll remember what you did, and they’ll remember your store.

Stay in season

In the spring and summer, your store should be stocked with the must-haves for outdoor activities, both work and fun. In the winter, create an eye-catching window display of shiny new tools for shoveling snow, warm winter clothing, or in more temperate coastal climates, shift your focus from shortsT-shirts and sandals to hoodies, flannel pants and fuzzy, warm after-surf boots. Adjust to the season to keep your sales flowing smoothly.

Keep it social

Social media is any retail store’s dream. If your store isn’t using online sales and social media, do it. Approximately 3.5 billion people in the world use social media in some form. And for those of you who think it’s a young person’s platform, 48% of those people are Baby Boomers – those born between 1946 and 1964. You can use social media to both build a customer following and sell products at very little cost. Different platforms that attract different audiences. Facebook is big with Baby Boomers, Generation X and millennials. Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter are the top platforms with the younger generations.

Reward your customers

Want to keep your customers coming back for more? Reward them. All retail stores should have an incentive program for their customers and even if you’re not Costco, Home Depot, or Target, you can reward your loyal customers. Rich Rewards is a royalty-free loyalty program from Paladin that will keep customers coming in for more. A loyalty program gives an incentive for the customer to buy more; once they reach a certain amount, they get a freebie. And as you know, free is a customer’s favorite word. Another possibility is a third-party provider such as RepeatRewardsThese solutions give retailers high-powered programs to effectively compete with chain stores and big online experiences. They reward faithful customers and give retailers a great way to interact with their loyal shoppers.

Offer convenience

If you can stop a customer from having to go to two different places to finish his to-do list, then make that happen. Can you sell snacks? Convenience items? What are some things customers have asked for that you don’t carry? How can you make shopping convenient for your customers? Delivery service is another convenience that is rapidly becoming an expectation of modern shoppers. Businesses can set up their own delivery service or contract with local providers. Buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) or curbside pickup has become increasingly popular during the health and economic crisis.

Update your technology

If a hamster running on a wheel is needed to operate your cash register, then it’s time to update your technology. Keeping your store up to date with technology gives your customers a sense of security and benefits your store with organization, automation and accuracy. A digital retail platform with an intuitive point-of-sale system is a necessity today as the economic shutdown has shown.

Paladin offers a point-of-sale solution for independent businesses that streamlines all business operations. Paladin provides powerful inventory management along with hundreds of supplier and business features and integrations designed to let you manage your entire store from a single touchpoint. There is plenty of new technology – dynamic digital signage, mobile delivery and sales tools, and more – you can put to use to enhance your store’s shopping experience.

Offer helpful tips

Sometimes business isn’t always about making sales. Your online presence and helping your customers with their needs is extremely important as the retail closure has demonstrated. Businesses without a website, including a way to sell from it, had no way to conduct business or communicate with their customers when their doors were locked. Bring information and solutions to your customers’ needs with daily (or weekly) tips in an online blog can keep your customers close. Instruction on anything relevant to your store’s specialty can keep your store at the top of their minds when it comes time to shop.

Think about your niche market and the specific problems you want to solve for your customers. Now ask: What do they need help with? What can my store teach them? These answers are perfect for your blog or social media. If you’re not tech-savvy enough to create or maintain a digital presence, some retail technology providers offer integrations with specialty software companies that can help you set up and maintain a website. Social media, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, is another way to engage and help your customers.

Go the extra mile

What can your store offer that Amazon can’t? A customer relationship. When you go above and beyond to help a customer solve a problem or fulfill a need, you now have a loyal customer. No matter how big or small, going the extra mile will always keep customers coming through your door. In-store workshops are exciting ways to engage loyal customers and reach out to new shoppers. Hosting local fundraisers is another.

Which secret will you use?

Now that you know 10 secrets to running a profitable hardware store, it’s time to get busy and make some sales!

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