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Can You Use Office Space for Retail?

Lauren Valensky
12 May 2022

Since there are now approximately 400 square feet of unused office space per every British citizen, many entrepreneurs have begun to explore the possibility of converting these spaces into retail stores [1].

And considering the high cost of rent, which makes it difficult to find a space that is both affordable and visible to potential customers, it's no wonder that so many businesses are eager to take advantage of this opportunity.

However, there are a number of factors to consider when contemplating this transformation, since retail requires a very different kind of setup than office spaces typically do. Fortunately, we've been doing some research, and have collated some simple steps to follow if you're thinking about using office space for retail.

What is 'office space'?

Office space is commercial property specifically designed for use as an office, typically one that is rented out to businesses on a short-term basis. Such spaces can range in size from small cubicles to large open floors and can come equipped with everything from meeting rooms and private offices to shared workspaces and conference facilities.

While these specific features can make office spaces ideal candidates for interesting retail establishments, they can also hinder compatibility with the retail set-up, and such it's important to consider these crucial points:

Some of the key considerations when transforming office space into a store include the following:

Location, location, location

First and foremost, you'll need to carefully consider where your business will be located within the office space, as this will impact everything from traffic flow to visibility and accessibility. Ideally, you'll want your store to be located in a high-traffic area of the office that is easily visible, such as near the entrance or within a busy common area.

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Create a floor plan

Once you've decided that an office-turned-retail space is a right fit for your business, it's time to get to work on creating a floor plan that can be used to evaluate your layout's legalities - potential zoning issues, (such as fire safety regulations), building codes or restrictions on noise for example.

In addition to this, you'll also need to take into account things like utilities and storage needs, as well as electrical outlets and plumbing. All of these factors will play a role in determining the feasibility of your office-turned-retail space, so it's important to consider them all carefully before getting started.

Conduct a feasibility study

Talking of feasibility, before committing your business to any office space, it's essential that you conduct a thorough feasibility study of the entire vicinity. This will help you get a better idea of what kind of store would work well within this setting, as well as what kind of traffic you can expect.

Some factors to consider during your feasibility study include:

  • The demographics of the surrounding area
  • The levels of consistent foot traffic
  • The accessibility of the location, with regard to customer parking and public transport

By carefully evaluating these factors, you can determine whether your office space would actually be a viable location for a retail store.

Get the appropriate permits

If you're planning on making changes to the office space itself, such as painting walls or installing new fixtures, you'll need to obtain the proper permits from your local authorities before proceeding.

While the process can be somewhat time-consuming, it's essential to obtain the necessary permits in order to ensure that your retail operation is legally compliant and safe. You can find more information on how to do this online, or by consulting with an experienced retail professional in your area.

Choose your merchandise wisely

When selecting merchandise for your store, it's important to consider what will complement the office setting, and ensure that you have a wide enough selection of different products so that customers can peruse your wares easily.

Be sure to select items that complement your company's branding and image and provide the product your customers expect - it's important to carefully evaluate the specific needs of your target customers and determine how those needs can be best addressed within the available space.

How to use an office space for retail

If you're looking for additional revenue streams, need extra space for product fulfilment, or just want to try something new, you might be asking how exactly office space can be used for retail? 

Well, there are a number of ways that you can utilise your office space for retail, aside from a simple brick and mortar store. Some simple transformations that can help turn these empty spaces into vibrant and profitable retail operations include:

Pop-up shops

Pop up shops are a great way to test out a new retail concept without making a long-term commitment.

By setting up shop in your office space for a few days or weeks, you can determine whether there is interest in your product and gauge customer reaction before investing in a more permanent store.

In-office showrooms

If you have products that are too large or delicate to sell online, setting up an in-office showroom can be a great way to give customers the opportunity to see your products in person before making a purchase.

This can also be a good option if you have limited space for inventory, as it allows you to showcase a selection of your merchandise without having to keep a large stock.

Platforms for partnerships with other local retailers

If you don't have the time or resources to commit to running a full-fledged retail operation, partnering with another local retailer in an office space can be a great way to get your products in front of customers. This can be done through consignment arrangements, co-branding, or simply by renting out space in your office to the other retailer.

No matter what route you decide to take, remember that the key to success is all in the planning. By taking the time to evaluate your options and make thoughtful decisions, you can successfully turn your office space into a vibrant retail hub that will help grow your business and engage your customers.

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  • Review auto-generated profitability reports based on individual product performance, trending items, best and worst sellers.
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  • Customer management systems that save customer contact details and shopping preferences for more targeted marketing.
  • Integrations with over 100 apps including marketing, accounting, bookkeeping, and loyalty program apps.

If you're looking to be a pioneer in the office space department, we'd love to hear from you!

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