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3 steps to a successful store opening

Retail store openings can be one of the most stressful times in a leader's career. Your organization is counting on you to not only open successfully, but on a specific timeline, usually asking to be under the budgeted cost, and most importantly it is always the “most important” project for the company.

This blog will provide you with the steps you need to successfully open your next retail location and help you understand why following a set of steps is important. Following these steps will not only help you open successfully but will also be your roadmap for any of your future retail business locations.

Why is it important to follow a set of steps and actions when you are planning to open a new retail location?

● The obvious answer is YOUR OPENING WON’T BE SUCCESSFUL!

● Your retail “Flagship” store just became another business in a crowded space.

● And your leadership and skill set could come into question.


● If we don’t talk about anything else, you need to understand how important planning the opening is and the idea that it is not too early to start your planning process and organize all the pieces that will contribute to your store opening success.

● In a store opening you do not control everything! I know you want to think that but there are many areas of an opening you rely on others including the General Contractors and their subcontractors, government agencies in which you will need permits and approvals, suppliers who may or may not uphold their end of the opening in terms of product offerings and delivery times, and the list goes on!

● Start by gathering every member of your retail leadership team that will play a role in the opening and plan meetings to discuss the project at intervals that make sense to keep everyone on the same page and keep your retail store opening on target. Don’t give anyone a pass on your meetings. They need to understand the importance of their role and be held accountable for it.

● Over the last 25 years with more than 100 retail store openings I have said to myself while sitting in a meeting or on a call why are we having this? And then it appears! Someone or something did not happen as we had PLANNED it. But because we were all on the same page, we all knew our roles and responsibilities, and held each other accountable in these meetings we were able to pick it up and keep going without major disruptions to the goal of having a successfully completed project.


● If you don’t have a store opening checklist or you don’t think they are important to keep your store opening and your team on track, go back to step #1 and start over!

● Your store opening checklist should include tabs for every department within your organization that will be involved in the success of your store opening. Examples include your IT Department, Treasury Department, Loss Prevention Department, HR Department and so on. Each department tab should include everything that falls under their department, who is responsible for it, the date in which it needs to be completed by, and what if anything is needed to accomplish the task. As your calls or meetings progress the items are marked off or reviewed for completeness.

● Your store opening checklist should always start from the planned opening date and work backwards. Leaving yourself extra time built in for anything that does not happen on time or does not go according to plan. For example, in a Duty Free Retail Store your store opening could be delayed or pushed due to customs inspections, building permits held up, suppliers unable to meet deadlines and you need to figure out plan B, or your GC decides to take a vacation for a week. The list of possible interruptions is endless. Your store opening checklist should account for everything possible if it is reviewed accordingly there should be “no stone left unturned”.


● This project is the most important thing for your organization right now. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! If you want a successful store opening that you can show off to the world when you open the doors it will take the entire team. You alone cannot do it by yourself!

● In step 1 we talked about how important the planning process is and the importance of getting everyone involved that will play a role in the success of your business.

● In step 2 we talked about how important it is to have checklists and timelines and why these should include the entire team.

● And as a part of your planning process, you may see the need for someone outside of your organization with a specific skill set. (Yes, this is where I shamelessly sell myself, email But in seriousness don’t be afraid to get outside help from someone that understands all the nuances of a successful retail store opening.

Successfully opening a new retail store in any environment can be a huge challenge for any organization. The 3 steps I outlined above of course do not cover every aspect of it. Every new store will have its own set of challenges that you will encounter. But if you plan accordingly, create a checklist and timeline that includes built in speed bumps and everyone involved works together as a team you have put yourself in a position to succeed.

Thank you for taking the time to read through our article and we hope to see your new store opening soon!

Chris Berthelson is the owner of WP business consulting in the U.S. and specialises, amongst other services, in store openings within the retail sector. To discuss Chris's work further contact him via or visit

Chris Berthelson is a member of the JES Travel Retail partner programme.

Disclaimer: Guest posts and comments represent the diversity of opinion within the travel retail world. The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of JES Travel Retail who shall not be held liable for any inaccuracies presented. The methodologies presented in this, and all guest posts, may not reflect strategies recommended by JES Travel Retail.

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