Industry sector: Retail and wholesale

Record shop: Operating practices

Quality standards

Independent record shops have to work hard to survive these days, so it's important that your shop:

  • is clean, tidy and professionally fitted out (don't forget to look critically at the outside of the shop - smart paintwork is important)
  • is well stocked with the titles that are in demand from your target customers. Certain areas of the music retailing business are fashion-led so, if it's appropriate to your business, you need to make sure that your stock reflects current trends. If you're planning to operate in a niche area, it's likely that your customers will expect you to be at least as knowledgeable as they are about the genre and be able to source difficult to find titles
  • is staffed by knowledgeable employees
  • offers a high standard of customer service

Don't overlook the potential of your window display - a bright, regularly changed display can help to attract passing trade. Signs in your shop window will inform passing customers about any other services you provide like concert ticket sales.

You can also use your shop window to advertise any special offers or promotions you will make, or to highlight new titles that have come in or are going to be arriving in the near future. Taking part in the annual Record Store Day promotion is also very important for many independent record shops.

Stock management

One of the most important aspects to consider in the daily running of a record shop is the accurate management of your stock. There are different ways of achieving this, the cheapest being the manual 'master bag' system. This involves keeping track on paper of the identity and quantity of orders from suppliers and also a record of what has been sold in the shop. The two records can then be compared to see what needs ordering, what titles may need discounting and so on. This can be a time consuming business and there's an increased likelihood of human error.

The alternative is to install a computerised system for stock control. These vary in complexity and what they are able to do but range from being a computerised version of the 'master bag' system to systems which handle everything, even down to automatically re-ordering online when stocks become depleted. These systems are quite expensive, so you will have to give careful consideration as to whether you can justify buying one.

Selling online

Recorded music is among the most frequently purchased items online. While many people now just pay to download the music tracks themselves, CDs (and vinyl) still sell very well online. Depending on the type of music you stock, you might decide to set up an ecommerce website so that you can potentially reach many more customers all over the country - even the world.

Using an online marketplace like eBay or Amazon is an alternative way of selling online and gives you the opportunity to see whether ecommerce works in your business without incurring the cost of setting up your own website. Selling online works particularly well if you specialise in stocking unusual, niche and hard to find recordings.

Keeping in-store and online inventories synchronised

Software systems are available that keep the shop and online inventories in line with one another. This means that if an item sells out in the shop, the online database is updated accordingly. Similarly if an item sells online, staff in the shop are alerted so that they do not sell that item in the shop.