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The First Steps Of Leasing Retail Space For A Shopify Ecommerce Business

A DTC store showcasing a variety of soaps and other items.

Starting an ecommerce business has become increasingly popular recently, with platforms like Shopify making it easier to launch an online store.

However, many e-commerce businesses are now taking the next step and moving into physical retail spaces as they seek to expand their brand and connect with customers in a new way.

If you're a Shopify e-commerce business owner ready to leap into brick-and-mortar retail, this guide will help you get on the right foot.

Understand Your Business and Your Market

Before looking for retail space, it's essential to understand your business and your target market. With the guidance of Unilog, you can determine which retail space will best cater to your needs. For instance, are you offering luxury products that necessitate a premium shopping ambiance? Or are you marketing more utilitarian, daily-use items suitable for a relaxed retail environment?

Once you clearly understand your business and your target market, you can start researching the types of retail spaces best suited for your business. For example, suppose you're selling luxury goods. In that case, you'll likely want to look for high-end shopping centers or boutique stores that cater to your target market—on the other hand, looking for retail spaces in busy shopping areas or shopping malls would be better if you're trying to find a place to sell more practical, casual inventory, like homemade cards and gifts.

Know Your Budget

Once you clearly understand your business and target market, you'll need to determine your budget. Renting retail space can be expensive, especially if you're looking for a high-end shopping center or boutique store. You'll need to consider the cost of rent, utilities, insurance, and any necessary renovations or improvements to the space.

It's also important to consider the long-term cost of renting the space. Can you afford the rent for the duration of your lease? If not, consider a short-term lease or a shared retail space that allows you to split costs with another business.

Look for the Right Location

Location is one of the most critical factors when leasing retail space. You want to choose an area that is easily accessible to your target market and offers plenty of foot traffic. For example, if your business is in a high-end shopping center, you'll want to look for a location that is in a busy shopping area with many other high-end retailers. On the other hand, if your business is in a more casual shopping mall, you'll want to look for a location near popular retailers with high foot traffic.

In addition to location, you'll also want to consider the overall vibe of the retail space. Is the room bright and airy, or is it dark and dreary? Is it modern and trendy, or is it outdated and needing renovations? You want to choose a retail space that fits the vibe and aesthetic of your business.

Find the Right Listing

Finding commercial real estate listings for your small business can be done through various channels. The most common way to see listings is through online commercial real estate websites such as LoopNet or MyEListing.com (this Youtube video shows how to sign up for an account, it's free). These websites provide a comprehensive database of commercial properties for lease or sale, allowing you to search for properties based on specific criteria, such as location, size, and price.

Another option is to work with a commercial real estate agent or broker, who can provide valuable insights into the market, connect you with potential properties, and help negotiate the lease or purchase on your behalf. Brokers and agents can access a broader range of listings, including those yet to be listed on public websites. 

You can also find retail spaces through local newspapers and real estate magazines or even by doing it the old-school way and driving around the area you're interested in, looking for For-Sale signs, and seeing if any properties catch your eye. 

When searching for retail space, it's crucial to be proactive and to keep an eye out for new listings as they become available, as the best properties often get snatched up quickly.

Evaluate the Space

Once you've found a retail space that meets your needs and budget, you'll need to evaluate the building. Start by taking a tour of it, paying close attention to the layout and size. Is it big enough for your business and customers to move around comfortably? Does the space have a good setup that will allow you to display your products effectively?

You'll also want to look closely at the electrical and plumbing systems in the space. Do they need to be upgraded or replaced? Is there enough electrical power and plumbing to support your business? You want to avoid signing a lease for a retail space only to discover that you need to upgrade the electrical or plumbing systems.

Another vital factor to consider is the amount of natural light in the space. Good lighting is essential for creating a welcoming and attractive shopping environment, so you'll want to choose a retail space with plenty of natural light. If it needs more natural light, you'll need to consider the cost of adding artificial lighting to the building.

Finally, you'll want to consider the state of the space's walls, floors, and ceilings. Are they in good condition, or must they be repaired or renovated? If the building needs renovations, you'll need to consider the cost of these renovations and factor them into your budget.

Negotiate the Lease

Once you've evaluated the retail space and decided it's the right fit for your business, it's time to negotiate the lease. This can be a complicated process, so it's essential to clearly understand what you want and what you're willing to compromise on.

When negotiating the lease, be sure to consider the following factors:

  • Rent: What is the monthly rent for the space, and is it within your budget? Are there additional fees or charges, such as property taxes or utilities?
  • Length of lease: How long is the lease? Are you looking for a short-term or long-term lease?
  • Renewal options: Does the lease include options for renewal, and if so, how long are the renewal options?
  • Improvements: If the space needs renovations or improvements, who will pay for these? Will the landlord make the improvements, or will you be responsible for paying for them?
  • Termination clause: What is the termination clause in the lease, and can you terminate the lease early if necessary?
  • Parking: Is ample parking available for customers, and is it free or paid?

Once you've negotiated the lease, get it in writing and have it reviewed by a legal expert before signing. This will help ensure that the lease is fair and that you're protected in case of any disputes.


Leasing retail space for a Shopify e-commerce business is a big step, but it can be exciting and rewarding. By understanding your business and your target market, knowing your budget, looking for the right location, evaluating the space, and negotiating the lease, you will undoubtedly be on your way to a successful retail presence. With a suitable retail space, you can expand your brand, connect with customers in a new way, and take your e-commerce business to the next level.

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