How to Choose a Site for Your Business

Right for the market

In deciding where your outlet should be sited, it is useful to ask yourself whether what you are offering is largely something which customers will buy on impulse if they happen to see it, or whether it is something they need, so will seek you out, within reason, wherever you happen to be.

This means you have two broad categories from which to choose – prime sites and secondary sites.

Site for Business

Prime sites

A prime site is where you will find the ‘big boys’, the household names which customers expect to find in any worthwhile shopping venue.

Prime sites are expensive, and a question you need to ask yourself is, ‘If I choose a unit in a prime site, will people passing my door on their way to the branches of the national multiples be tempted to stop and consider my wares – and will they do it in sufficient numbers to justify the expense?’.

Secondary sites

Secondary sites are located away from the prime site areas. Naturally the outgoings on a secondary site are lower than those for a prime site. The level of trade could well be lower, too, so you will probably need to tell the public that you are there, which means that advertising costs for a secondary site could be greater than those for a prime site. Many small shops site themselves on the periphery of a small town.


Whether prime or secondary, it is worth considering the position of your outlet. For example, would you want to be actually fronting onto the street with pedestrians and traffic passing by or would you prefer to be within a shopping centre?

In considering a site it might be worth seeing who your neighbours will be. What type of goods will they be offering? Will they be in direct competition with you? Will they attract people who might equally be interested in what you have to offer?

Size and shape

Two units with the same square footage could offer good or bad possibilities depending on the shape and the type of stock to be fitted into it. So before tramping off to the agents or around the town centres, consider:

  • the optimum size of the unit you need (do not forget stockroom and office space as well)
  • the most appropriate shape for the type of business you are intending to run

For example, a deep, narrow shop with very little frontage would be acceptable for a counter service operation – like a jeweller’s or a motor accessories shop – but would be unsuitable for a self-service shop – like a mini-market – where customers need more space to walk around selecting their own items.

Decide how far either side of the ‘ideal’ you are prepared to go, and try to stick to it.

Rent and rates

The shape as well as the size of your unit will have an effect on the expenses. This is because of the way the rental is calculated. The floor area of the shop is divided into zones, with each zone attracting a different level of rent; the zone nearest the front of the shop being the most expensive, so that the rent for a deep, narrow-fronted shop is less than for a narrow, wide-fronted one.

Public transport and parking

Customers need to be able to get to and from your shop easily and conveniently, whether by public transport or under their own steam. When deciding on the siting of your potential outlet, ease of access for customers is something else to consider.

Site for Business

Access for deliveries

As well as thinking about how convenient it is for your customers to get to your store, it is as well to take into account how your stock will be delivered to you in the first place.

For any potential site, see what access there is for suppliers’ or carriers’ vehicles, and how easy it is to transfer items from a vehicle to your goods-in area.

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About the Author: Justin Belden is a freelance web & graphic designer with over 15 years' experience. He is also an Avid member of the Design/Development community and a Serial Blogger who loves to help people by sharing interesting and informative tips and trick related to computer and technology.

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