Four Retail Business Ideas That Stand Out From the Competition

Yellow Smiley face balloon hovers above the crowd of white balloons

Access My FREE 5-Part Retail Sales Training Email Course!

Updated May 29, 2024.

If you're paying attention to the doom and gloom associated with retail, it might seem that the exuberance of online shopping - it’s SO easy -  has pushed brick-and-mortar stores out to pasture.

That's not the case.

The majority of customers still prefer in-store purchases for most types of products, and they will for the foreseeable future.

While a number of high-profile retail chains have gone out of business, their downfall was more due to debt than a lack of shoppers.

To succeed, you have to look for creative retail business ideas. Many of them revolve around ways to reach customers where they are, engage them in new ways, and get to know them individually.

Regarding driving sales, retailers shouldn’t be afraid to try innovative things. In Shanghai, Hema Supermarket recently added an adult section to its app. Now, consumers can receive delivery of condoms, pregnancy tests, sex toys, and more in 30 minutes or less.

It is easy to scoff at retail store ideas like this one. Still, the retailer has tapped into a fundamental human need and raised consumers' expectations of short delivery times for on-demand purchases.

Find inspiration with these retail business ideas

Here are four creative ways to serve your retail customer base across channels and in real locations.

1. Be available where your customers are

Domino's Pizza is not a new business; it was established in 1960. However, it always aims to push the envelope to remain relevant and connected to its core customers. It used to be that restaurants were all about location. One of Domino’s interesting business ideas is that customers can order to hotspots without an address. This is one of those great retail business ideas other businesses should consider.

Hotspots include outdoor parks, beaches, Central Park in New York City, and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. As long as you are GPSable, you can get their pizza anywhere.

2. Take knowing your customer to the next level

Lolli & Pops, which bills themselves as an encyclopedia of the world’s finest candies and confections, implemented facial recognition programs in their stores. This allows their sales associates to see VIP shopper preferences and even allergy information so they can offer new creations and locate old favorites quickly.

Yes, it could have a bit of a creep factor, but it also cuts down on explaining many things each time. Any time-saving strategy is good for your retail store, especially if your employees are busy.

3. Make shopping seamless across all channels

Everlane, an ethically sourced clothing company, lets customers see exactly how much the materials and labor cost. Now, they have integrated their brick-and-mortar and online stores using an integrated ID system.

Like at big-box retailers, shoppers can return items purchased online in-store. They can also shop wallet-less and apply any existing credits to their purchase, whether online or in-person.

It’s a great idea for every retail store and one way to prevent your store from becoming a showroom for Amazon.

4. Remove the guesswork and build a digital profile for shoppers

ModCloth started as an online fashion-design company offering clothing inspired by yesteryear.  At their new stores in Austin and San Francisco, shoppers work with an in-store, in-person stylist and have an introductory conversation that covers personal style, wardrobe goals, and budget. The stylist takes detailed measurements and gives a guided tour around the showroom to showcase the best styles and fits for the customer’s body type and needs.

The appointments themselves are free, and there’s zero purchase obligation. This leaves the customer free to shop their omnichannel empire, confident that whatever they purchase, online or in-store, will fit.  This saves the customer in-store time and makes their online purchases doubt-free.

More importantly, this retail store idea creates free customer value and allows the salesperson to build rapport quickly.

See also: How Retail Store Of The Future Holds Keys For Retail Shopping Trends

Why shoppers don't purchase isn't the same as why shoppers do purchase.  

When you look at the sales you are missing, you become curious about your shoppers’ motivations.

You are focused on delivering in-person relationships and finding new product delivery methods. These four retailers show you the way forward.

They are innovating with unique retail store ideas that combine technology with great customer service to elevate shopping experiences.