In a previous blog post we shared 5 easy steps to getting started in retail. Step #4 was “Try mobile retail.” A lot of business owners were wondering what we meant, so here’s a quick guide to going mobile.
As consumers, most of us are already well accustomed to mobile businesses. Street fare is a mainstay in cities world-wide. Such is its popularity, even, that there are apps for tracking food trucks.
The advantages for mobility are many. Mobile businesses follow the crowds, minimize startup overheads, have incredible branding capabilities and, with all that toing and froing, have no need to pay for advertising. (Heck, they could even sell some should they choose).
With cloud business apps, mobile retail stores can utilize the same tools as their stationery counterparts. Including POS, an online store, and integrated accounting.
It’s no surprise, then, to see a new breed of mobile business on the rise. Mobile retail.
Our friends from the West Coast Mobile Retail Association, founded by mobile retailers Jeanine Romo and Stacey Steffe (of Le Fashion Truck, in Los Angeles, California) have set out to help mobilize entrepreneurs all across the US.
Starting up a mobile business
Perhaps you dream of owning your own business but haven’t had the wherewithal to pursue it. It’s too expensive. Too risky. Too BIG.
Mobile retail allows you to start slowly and keep your day job. Retailing can be reserved for weekends or special events. Take your time to test various markets and trial product lines.
Jasmin Baros, founder San Francisco’s JasyB Boutique, was able to keep her day job and realize her dream. “Being a mother of 3, I needed something that would fit into our busy schedules,” says Jasmin. “An actual brick-and-mortar would require hours I could not put into the business. I work 4 days a week with my day job and the truck is my weekend baby. I couldn’t be happier.”
Location, location, location
Retail is all about location, right? Mobile retailers don’t pay premiums to ensure they have regular passers by. They just go out and find them.
As Gabbie Biedinger of La Pink Boutique explains, “I decided to join the fashion truck movement because I felt that having a brick-and-mortar limited my creativity and the number of people I could reach. In business they always say location, location, location and I feel that this concept takes that to a whole new level.”
Test your market
You might have an amazing product, with a great pitch – but you never know how your market will respond until you get in front of it.
“Being inspired from the Styleliner from the east coast, we wanted to take a chance,” says Jordana Fortaleza, of Los Angeles-based J.D. Luxe fashion truck. “The innovative idea of a boutique on wheels meant we weren’t locked down to one location; we’d be able to expose our brand to many demographics and it would be a lower start-up cost.”
Convenient and affordable (for everyone)
Le Fashion Truck owners (and founders of WCMRA) Jeanine Romo and Stacey Steffe say “when starting our business two years ago, two of our goals were to make shopping more convenient and affordable in LA. Being mobile allows us to go to our customers in their area instead of waiting for them to come to us.”
With the lower overheads of mobile retail, Jeanine and Stacey can pass savings on to their shoppers. And not much can beat the convenience of bringing the shop to the customer.
Mobile retail stores have incredible branding potential. Every detail can be customized to speak, sing or shout your brand. Plus your shop is its own mobile advertising.
Skulltastic‘s school bus is integral to the brand. “One of the first ideas I had when I came up with the concept of Skullastic was to buy a school bus and turn it into a driving retail store. It took me two years to find the exact bus I wanted and convert it to its current design,” explains Don Rich, founder of Skulltastic and creator one-of-a-kind school supplies.
Inspired, but already have a brick and mortar shop? So does Skulltastic. Don’s bus is a way to reach new customers, advertise his brand, and generally be awesome.
Plus with Vend’s iPad POS you already have a mobile-ready point of sale.
For more information on starting up your own mobile business, get in touch with Jeanine and Stacey from the West Coast Mobile Retail association. Wherever you are in the world, they’re sure to have some ideas to get you started.