With the meteoric rise in popularity of online shopping this year, malls have become a respite from the isolation and scroll fatigue created by 2020.
Its been a difficult year for Malls, but with the increasing availability of a COVID vaccine its easy to anticipate a return to the nostalgia of in person shopping. This could be your opportunity to capitalize on newfound energy in malls and shopping centers. This could be your year to finally open that kiosk you’ve been dreaming of!
It’s no secret that 2020 was a difficult year for malls. Temporary and long-term closures resulted in a year of poor sales. Malls weren’t even in a great place before the pandemic – shoppers were more and more frequently turning to the internet for items they need.
That doesn’t mean that malls are a thing of the past, though – retail expert predict that high-performing locations will continue to perform, though some of the worst-performing are likely to close.
If malls are going to stay open, then they will still want mall carts and kiosks to fill the extra space in their hallways. If you are interested in starting a retail business, a mall cart might be the right choice for you.
Why a Mall Cart?
Mall carts and kiosks require significantly less up-front investment than a traditional storefront at an estimated $2,000-$8,000 for merchandise, acquiring the cart, and costs like insurance. These numbers are higher than the starting investment for a web-based store, but on the internet, you will be competing with thousands, if not millions, of other stores. Even getting views from customers will cost you in advertising, but then they’ll have all of those competitors at their fingertips to compare against you.
Mall carts have the benefit of being in front of the customer. They generate impulse sales – a customer sees something and they want it. It is much harder to get in front of a customer on the internet, and customers won’t be able to see merchandise inside a traditional storefront if they are just walking by.
What to do First?
Both the location and product you sell are vital to the success of your kiosk. You probably already have a product in mind, but if not, consider problems that people have today. What products might solve those problems?
Unless you want to invent and patent a product of your own, go for a mid-level problem to solve. Not something urgent that will force a customer to seek out a solution, but something that bothers a customer enough for them to want relief when they see your product.
Consider when and where a customer might have that problem. If possible, go to those locations and observe customer behavior. This post details an interesting example where the answer may not be as obvious as it seems.
Get Your Business Set Up
The legal and financial set up of a business can seem daunting, but don’t let this stop you! There are plenty of guides available that can walk you through the process. Bankers and even officials at the mall you plan to open your mall cart or kiosk in should also be able to answer your questions, and there are plenty of forums available to get information from people who have done it before.
The important thing is to take it one step at a time. Don’t let everything that needs to be done overwhelm you. Check out the list below for some of the legal things you’ll need to think about when opening a kiosk or cart.
Open a Business
To open a kiosk or cart, you will need a business license. This will allow important documents to be under the business’ name, as well as giving you and your property some protection. Every state handles business licenses differently – you will need to search how to get one in your area.
You can structure your business in a few different ways. For a small business out of a mall cart or kiosk, consider an LLC or Sole Proprietorship. They each have different benefits in terms of taxes, regulations and liability, so you will want to carefully consider each option. Spend some time researching the difference to know which makes the most sense for you.
The mall you are in will likely require you to have insurance, but it’s important to get it even if they don’t. Kiosks and carts may not have a high up-front investment, but you still don’t want to lose all of that contribution should anything happen. Not to mention liability if someone gets hurt on your equipment and decides to sue.
You will want to contact your mall and see if they require you to add them as an “additional insured” party, which will cover the mall and their property as well.
Insurance companies can make it seem like its only a matter of time until something bad happens, but plenty of people go their whole lives without having to use it for anything major. You just don’t want to be stuck with the bill if anything does happen!
Be sure to shop around for the right insurance policy to best protect your unique business. There are insurance packages meant specifically for mall-based businesses, which can insure that the package is meeting your needs.
Once you have all your legal obligations covered, its time to open your kiosk! While it probably feels like all your hard work is finally over, your product doesn’t sell itself. We’ve already discussed how you have a hand up over traditional retail stores, so now its time to lean into those qualities and advantages.
For one, you are much more in a customer’s line of sight than a traditional store’s wares. Take advantage of this with eye-catching displays and creative marketing.
You’ll also want to emphasize customer service. Once you catch someone’s eye, you or your employees will need to look lively and interested in them. They most likely won’t be able to access the merchandise for themselves, and if you look busy, bored, or otherwise unwelcoming, they may not want to bother you for more information. That moment of inattention may mean a lost sale.
Make sure you don’t come across as pushy. A search like “avoid mall kiosks” will easily bring up thousands of annoyed people sharing stories about being grabbed or harassed by a kiosk salesperson. Observe moods in the crowd and look for people who are already studying your wares. Avoid reaching out to anyone who looks flustered or looks like they are purposefully avoiding eye contact with you.
It may feel like a lot of rejection up front, but selling is a skill and takes practice. If you persevere, you’ll learn a lot about the types of customers to target and how to talk to them.
For more tips, read this article.
Protect Your Merchandise
Retail shrinkage is a huge problem for all retailers. Even if you aren’t selling expensive, theft and loss of your merchandise will chip away at your profits if you aren’t proactive.
Since many carts and kiosks display merchandise on both sides, its common to install locking see-through cases to stop passers-by from simply grabbing an item as they pass.
When your store is closed, though, you may want to add another layer of protection. Without an employee nearby to intervene, potential thieves may feel emboldened to break into your kiosk’s cases. Consider a cover to keep your merchandise safe from prying eyes. Covers can also be a great solution if you don’t have other display cases.
Have You Thought About Opening a Mall Cart?
Opening a mall cart or kiosk is a lot of work, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, a mall kiosk or cart might provide the start you need if you don’t have access to a lot of investment money up front.
Have you thought about opening a mall cart or kiosk? Let us know what products you would sell! Or if you have made your dreams come true, leave your best advice.