Even though the digital music revolution has completely reshaped how people buy and listen to records, that doesn’t mean that record stores have become obsolete. In fact, there are still thousands of record stores in the United States alone, with the market size of the record store industry still exceeding $1 billion.
So, if you’re a music aficionado that understands and values the physical aspect of owning a piece of music history through a record, you may be wondering whether you could turn it into a profitable business by opening an online record store.
However, finding success in selling records online can be an uphill battle. You need to find your audience, understand how to promote your business, and also cover your assets in case something goes wrong.
Let’s look at some of the critical steps for starting an online record store that will help you maximize your chances of success.
Protect Your Business
A record store is, first and foremost, a business. And that means that you must be compliant with regulations in the state you operate in, as well as think about how to protect your business from liabilities and losses.
Because of that, one of the key steps when starting an online record store is getting the required insurance for your retail business. While the specific insurance packages can be customized according to your needs, you should at least have commercial property insurance, product liability insurance, and general liability insurance if you don’t want to end up incompliant and at risk of lawsuits.
The good news is that today, finding the right retail or e-retail insurance is easier than ever before. You can quickly compare pricing and plans online, selecting the coverage that best suits your situation.
Even though the most obvious reason to get retail insurance is to get a certificate, the added protection can make a big difference and keep your business covered against various unexpected scenarios.
Find Your Audience
Another critical step when starting a successful record store is finding your ideal customer. Record stores have become a more niche industry, which means that you can’t expect to be successful if you don’t have a well-defined and highly-targeted audience that you cater to.
Most people today listen to music on Spotify or other digital platforms, so you will usually target more sophisticated listeners who are attracted to the aesthetic, the sound quality, or periods associated with vintage records.
When you know the types of audiences you could cater to, it will become easier to plan your entire business. You will know what type of brand you should create, what messaging to use, and even the types of records you should be offering.
Have a Plan for Promoting Your Online Record Store
Any business that wants to be successful needs multiple methods for attracting new customers. As you build a loyal following, you can expect to have some repeat customers come in regularly, but you still need to have a process for getting discovered by new people who are likely to be interested in buying records.
The good news is that selling online offers many opportunities for really zeroing in on the ideal customers you want to attract. And if you do a thorough job of performing market and audience research, you should have plenty of ways to identify these ideal customers and get the right messages in front of them.
You can run targeted paid advertising campaigns on Google, Facebook, and other social media platforms. These types of advertising platforms offer a variety of ways to target people based on demographics, preferences, actions, and interests.
It’s also a good idea to prioritize SEO, which can help you build a steady stream of traffic to your store over time. While SEO does take effort, by creating informative content around topics that interest your audience, you can build a following of readers who will trust your authority and will be more likely to buy from you.
Finally, you should work to create a subscriber list through email marketing, as it’s one of the best ways to keep customers coming back and buying again. You can inform them of new releases, create curated lists of records, and offer various deals that get people’s attention.
Opening up a record store can not only be a lot of fun, but it can also be a profitable business. But to have a chance of succeeding in an age of digital music platforms, you must understand who you want to reach, how to market to them, and how to protect your business.
The strategies listed above should help you get started on the right track and develop ideas for what your online record store should look like.