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Retail store ideas – How to come up with a unique concept?

9 September 2022

The key to the success of retail store ideas is coming up with something that no-one else has thought of. Your idea needs to be unique, so your business stands out and becomes the go-to place for whatever product you choose to sell.

One of the main ways to create ideas for shops is to solve a problem. Is there an item that people need that doesn’t exist? Coming up with a winning concept for retail store ideas will ensure that your business is profitable.

So how do you think of creative retail store ideas? Ankorstore can help you develop your small retail business ideas.

Andrea Landi

Find a niche market for your retail store

Discover an opportunity and review your target market

You don’t open a retail store without having a good idea before. This is about knowing your customers and understanding people’s needs. It’s tempting to sell something just because you think it’s a good idea, but market research is crucial. Identifying your target market will help you decide which products to sell and how to market them. It also narrows down the vastness of selling retail goods, which can be overwhelming.

Are you going to try and sell organic food products to affluent households or shoes for children that are easy to put on? The opportunity for niche products is vast but you have to understand the problems people have. Then you have to solve the problem by offering an affordable product people will buy and talk about. You can do this by carrying out market research using focus groups and local questionnaires     . 

Busy and working parents are often a good target market as they welcome anything to make their lives easier to manage. Be direct with questions. What would make your life better? How can we help? The internet is also a valuable resource for researching what the latest retail trends are.

Research the retail competition in your area

If you think you’ve found a niche idea, it’s important to be aware of what your competitors are selling. Take a look at competitors online by entering your main product into Google and seeing what comes up. 

Tip: defining a niche:


Base your search for a niche on:

Price – is there a demand for a cheap item or will the market withstand expensive price points?

Quality – are people looking for a premium product that lasts?

Demographics – what is the age, gender and income level of your target market?

Geography – where do the people live you are targeting and what is their disposable income?

Lifestyle – do people enjoy sports, have pets, or enjoy refurbishing their homes in the market you want to sell to?

When you’re reviewing the competition, look at their best-selling products and try to work out what makes them successful. Read company reports and projected sales of the sector you intend to operate in and follow trends. For example, are eco-friendly cosmetics set to grow? What’s the size of the health-food market? Are hand-made goods a growing area? Asking these questions will give you an idea of whether your retail store idea will be successful.

Meet a retail need

Connect with your potential retail buying market

We all need food and water to survive. In this context think about the companies that have come up with portable water bottles, folding water bottles and flavoured water. Someone saw a way to connect and offer products to address our basic need for water. They made the product interesting by giving it a flavour or making it something you take everywhere with you (consider how many people these days carry a portable flask filled with tea or coffee around with them).

Appeal to people’s busy lives

Timesaving is key in today’s hectic world. Anything that can save us time so we get more leisure time is a product we feel we may need. These products don´t necessarily fulfil our basic need for survival, but they do make life better.

Examples of time-saving products sold on Ankorstore


  • Eziclean vacuum cleaner
  • Icebreaker dispenser
  • Water filters
  • Food blenders
  • Detachable bike baby seat

All of these products have been successful ideas as they give people the chance to get more done.

Case study: Tom’s reusable baby clothes store


Tom’s family like to be environmentally friendly. Tom’s wife has just had a baby and doesn’t want to use disposable nappies which take years to break down. She also doesn´t like buying baby clothes that only last a few weeks as babies grow so fast. This inspired him to set up a recycled baby clothing store in his town. As well as selling washable nappies his store sells recycled baby clothes. He did his research and found quality second-hand clothing is a growing market for children and adults, as people want to do their bit for the planet. Tom’s USP is that fashion is one of the biggest contributors to damaging our world, and he aims to change this by recycling baby clothes.

Tom started the business as a hobby and now employs his two daughters to help him run the store.

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Set up the right retail environment

Get creative in your day-to-day life

Whether you come up with a new idea in the shower, walking the dog or when travelling home from work, allowing your creativity to run free is the way to come up with retail ideas. For example, some people like to sit down with a blank piece of paper and brainstorm, while others need to be doing something else to come up with a great plan.

Share ideas with others and make a note of them, no matter how silly they may seem. There’s no magic formula – the ideas will start when you’re in the right mood.

Relax and let your mind wander when planning a retail store

If you sit at a desk with a blank piece of paper and try to come up with a new store idea, you’re likely to be sat there for a long time. You need to be in a relaxing environment (the garden, countryside, in bed?) to set your mind free.

Write down everything on a large sheet of paper and draw pictures. This doesn´t have to be a neat list – it’s your inspirational document.

Consider your situation before opening a retail store

What time do you have available to open a shop?

Whether you plan to be an online retailer or open a physical store, your situation will make a difference to the services you offer. If you have a full-time job and are planning to open a retail store as a side-line to make extra cash, remember it will take up most of your evenings and weekends in the beginning.

People who run profitable businesses have to make some sacrifices. It’s essential to be honest with yourself and be sure you have the time to commit to your retail store.

Are there any financial restraints to opening your store?

If you have a lump sum of cash to open a store it’s important to budget carefully so you don´t waste money. You may wish to allocate some of the money to market research through professional focus groups, or you might decide to do your own research.

Borrowing money to set up a store also means you have to carefully manage your budget, as you will have to pay back the loan in a set time period. The kind of business you decide to open will also influence how much you have to spend to get it up and running. Selling online will be much more affordable than physical retail premises.

Finding a memorable retail store name 

Creating a memorable moniker for your store

You may already have your business name ready, or you may be finding it hard to come up with a good idea. There are plenty of business name generators online, but you could also take inspiration from:

  • your name
  • countries or places
  • foreign words
  • a nickname
  • an abbreviation of the product or service you’re offering

The name should be easy to remember and not used by another business. You can check with Companies House to see if the name is already in use

People should also be able to pronounce and spell the name easily, and it should be catchy. Your company name will represent your business for years to come, so it has to be right from the start. And while you may be starting small, if you have an online store you may ship to international customers, so make sure the name isn´t offensive in other cultures.

Once you’ve decided on a name you should register it using one of the forms on this page so the name is uniquely yours.

Be searchable and attractive online

You also need to be found easily online. This means your domain name should be fairly short and, again, easy to remember. Try to avoid the use of hyphens in your website name. While they can make a name that’s already been used unique, potential customers won´t remember to enter the hyphen.

Your website should also be enticing and professional. Visitors stay on a web page on average for 6 seconds, so you have this time to attract them. You then have to keep them, which is why news articles, blogs, and internal links are valuable. Use a pop-up to capture email addresses — you can use this to feed potential customers with ideas. 

Tip: domain names


When you apply for a domain name get one that ends in .com. This portrays a professional image, rather than endings like .net or .org. It also makes your business sound global, even if you are only small at the moment.

Branding for a retail store

Create a memorable retail brand

Once you’ve come up with your name, creating a brand for your store is the next priority. Your brand tells the story of your store idea and what your business aims to achieve. It gives your store identity and encourages people to remember you through signage and a logo. A brand is a powerful tool and should be carefully crafted. It will help build your reputation as a successful retailer. 

Who can help me create a retail brand?

If you can, it’s a good idea to ask a designer to help you create a brand and logo for your store. You will have to pay but the cost will be worth it as they will have the relevant skills and be used to coming up with brand signage for many types of business. Select a designer who has worked with small retail companies before and ask to see samples of their work. 

You should brief the designer on the type of retail store, your goals, products and target market. If you haven´t yet come up with colours for a theme for your retail store they can do this, or you can brief them on what you think will work.

Retail marketing

Tell your retail story

Your ideas for products to sell will constantly develop. You may introduce linked products or new arms of your retail store eventually. But what you need to do at the initial stage (and continuously) is market your idea. This refers to marketing the whole concept, not just individual products.

There’s a reason why you’ve set up a company and potential customers will resonate with your strategy if they know more about you. Don’t be anonymous. Share your story on your website of what inspired you to create the store and what you wish to achieve. 

Create a community

Marketing isn´t just about special offers and promotions. It encompasses sharing a dream and asking others to contribute. Successful stores interact with their customers and make them feel valued.

This link with your customers portrays you as a caring retailer who’s interested in customer opinions. Not only are you gaining valuable research by using these marketing methods but you’re also adding value to your offering.

If you’re starting a retail store we’d like to help. Join our Ankorstart support programme for free advice and guidance on setting up your store.

Tips to build customer loyalty


  • ask customers to leave reviews on your website
  • create a product rating form
  • request feedback and ideas for new products 
  • send out a newsletter to keep people informed
  • write a blog expressing your passion for the products you sell
  • create incentives (discounts, reward programmes, competitions) to get customers to return



How do I come up with a profitable idea?

Your retail store idea will only work if it meets the needs of your target audience. Do your market research and find out what people want. Solve their problems and they’ll buy from you.

What is a niche market?

A niche market is a smaller part of a large one that offers something unique. For example a niche market within Children’s Clothes could be sunglasses with a cord that stops them falling off. Focussing on a niche market can build brand loyalty.

What product sector should I consider?

Select an area you have expertise in so you can use your knowledge and expertise. Are you a sports enthusiast? Do you love food and healthy eating? Are you a pet lover? Your interests and hobbies could be the thing that sparks your retail store idea.

I can't come up with a unique idea – what do I do?

Leave your brainstorming for a while and let your mind relax. You may then come up with an idea when you least expect it. You should also ask friends and family what ideas they have for a retail store – be open to their thoughts. 

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