According to a Nielsen survey, majority of Ghanaians do most of their shopping at general stores or from road side kiosks that sell almost everything from beverages to mobile recharge vouchers. The survey also found that only 11 percent of respondents use supermarkets or hypermarkets as their primary channel for groceries.
Retail shops are often the channel from which many Ghanaians buy the products they consume. For first time business owners, the retail business is one that I advise people to consider. It is easier to set up and comparatively easier to manage as well.
What to Sell
The next question is what products exactly to retail for maximum return on your investment. To answer this question, I always tell people to take a look at the products they consume (or make use of) almost every day or at least once every week. From the time you wake up to the time you sleep, from Sunday to Saturday. Toothpaste, toothbrush, cups, plates and bowls, bread, sugar, coffee, tea, clothes, the saloon or barbershop, transportation, food staples, groceries, recharge cards (or the electronic form), and the list goes on. These are the areas where cash is exchanged on daily basis and your job is to place your business somewhere in that never-ending cycle.
Let’s look at the numbers. Retailers of fast moving consumer goods often earn at least 5% markups on their products and this can go as high as 50% on products such as imported clothes, confectionery, agricultural produce (food crops, meat etc). At the lowest profit, 5% that is, given that you turnover stock once every week, your profit at the end of the year well exceeds 200% on initial amount invested in stocks. The operational costs associated with these businesses are not so high for small and medium-scale set ups. However, for bigger setups such as supermarkets located in major malls, the operational expenses (electricity, rent, insurance, salaries, etc) can be high.
Major risks associated with these businesses include perishability of products (those with short shelve life), theft and pilferage by shop attendants and consumers in limited cases.
With as little as GHS1,000 you can start a retail business on a small scale, and grow it steadily. You may need a basic understanding of inventory management. I advise retailers to often stick to cash sales and avoid selling on credit as much as possible. Bad debts at this stage of your business, can spell the end of your small businesses if you are unable to replenish stock, because your money is locked in debts.
Other areas where we spend daily are communication, electricity, water and fuel but these setups require bigger capital, and so you may consider them when your pockets grow deeper. However, these seemingly big businesses also have smaller sections that you can consider investing in.