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The Covid pandemic might just be the best opportunity for starting a new brick and mortar business.

According to commercial real estate firm CBRE, in the second quarter of 2020, the amount of recently-vacated retail space in America surpassed newly-occupied space by 14.6 million square feet. That’s the first negative reading since 2011. Second quarter rent growth was also down by 4 percent. All of which has landlords ready to deal.

For those who can navigate the uncertainties that come with the pandemic, there’s never been a better time to acquire a prime location.

But acquiring the space is obviously just one part of the process. Before you throw open the doors and start welcoming customers, there are a few other things to consider that can dramatically impact your chances of success.

Location is all-important

Even if you find a space that’s a great deal, if it’s in a place people can’t easily find, those savings aren’t worth it. People shouldn’t need detailed directions. You want a location where you can be seen – ideally, a location where other businesses around you attract a similar demographic to your own. 

Understanding your audience is key – if you’re targeting students, perhaps a location near the campus or university makes sense. If corporate employees are your intended customers, you might want to choose a location close to a business park or office center. 

“It’s important to get outside your head and think about this from your customers’ perspective,” advises Mary Kay Sunset, Principal at Semple Brown Architects & Designers. “Who are the neighbors? How easy is it to find? How is the access to transit and parking?”

The location should complement your business. So take the time to properly identify your target audience before you settle on a location.

The design matters

Obviously, there are several factors that go into designing your brick-and-mortar location, and you’ll want to be unique in order to stand apart from the competition. But there are some common considerations to keep in mind.  Whether your goal is to tell your brand’s story, create an immersive shopping experience, or steer customers to specific products, the right design decisions up front will pay dividends down the line.

 “Think less about designing a space and more about shaping an experience,” Mary Kay from Semple Brown recommends. “What’s the relationship you want to encourage between you and your customers? How do they feel in the space – and how do they remember it? We use lighting, texture, color, and shape as layers that all should contribute to a cohesive experience.”

Ensuring customers have enough space to enjoy their experience without feeling crowded has become even more important in this era of social distancing. Choosing a minimalist design or furniture with mobility within your location can help create extra space. Likewise, the proper lighting will play a large part in determining how customers feel as they move through the room. And adding plants or greenery has been repeatedly shown to provide a calming, welcoming influence.

Don’t forget the (properly-sourced) music

The music in your space can be just as important as any other element. And, it’s not just an auditory element.

“Make sure your audio systems are integrated into your design,” says Mary Kay. “Incorporate speakers subtly and take into account proper aesthetics. Your music should sound good AND be visually pleasing.”

Not only is it an opportunity to showcase your unique style, it can also engage customers and make them more willing to both linger AND break out their credit cards.

“You need music as part of your business plan and business model,” says John Bradley, Chief Music Officer and Co-Founder of Custom Channels. “The right music can amplify the best parts of your company’s identity.” 

But not all music options are created equal.

All too often, business owners overlook some of the inherent pitfalls of improperly using music in their space. Not only do you run the risk of alienating potential customers with your choices, there are legal and licensing concerns to consider as well. You can’t simply put on a CD or flip on the radio – a fact that comes as a surprise to many business owners. The music you listen to at home is not licensed to be played in a retail or business setting. Doing so breaks any number of licensing rules and copyright laws. You need to use a service specifically designed for business – so the music in your store will be both skillfully curated and fully compliant.

Streaming music channels are the way to do this.

A custom music mix is an ideal way to help your business stand apart. At Custom Channels, we curate online streaming channels that you can customize to the unique needs of your business while improving engagement with your customers. Every year, we provide music to millions of ears in places like restaurants, retail locations, medical and dental offices, gyms, spas, hotels and more.

Learn more about how Custom Channels can help your business improve your customers’ experience with our customized, licensed playlists and channels. Either visit Music Licensing Basics or give us a call at 303-444-7700.