You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

Examples of Retail Business Ideas Do you want to run a retail operation? Ensure you know what to expect when launching one of these 10 examples of retail businesses.

By Nicole Crampton

You're reading Entrepreneur South Africa, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


Do you want to sell finished products directly to consumers? The retail industry could be the business opportunity for you. You could open anything from a clothing shop to a gaming parlour but before you get started you will need to know what strategies to employ and what you should offer.

Here are 10 examples of retail business ideas that will immerse you into the retail industry:

1. Coffee Shop and Bar

A coffee shop and bar is a coffee shop until 4pm and after that you would also serve beer and wine. This type of retail business will increase your customer base as you'll appeal to both the coffee shop crowd and when that begins to taper off, you're appealing to the night-time crowd.

Before you launch your start-up, here is an example of a retail business you can learn from:

Business Name: Slightly Toasted


About the business:

Slightly Toasted offers coffee, toasted sandwiches and pastries all day, and then from 11am they offer full lunch and dinner menus. They also offer takeaway and delivery services.

Related: 25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Innovative business offering

Besides their coffee and bar options they also host private parties on their first floor and on their rooftop lounge, and they offer membership programmes that enable their customers to enjoy discounts and special offers.

2. Mystery shopping

A mystery shopper is employed by retailers to evaluate the performance of the store anonymously. If you want to improve the performance of a retail chain, this could be the retail business idea for you. Here is an example of a mystery shopping business you can learn from to ensure your business remains competitive:

Business Name: BMI Research


About the business:

BMI Research offers a comprehensive mystery shopper strategy for their clients including determining compliance with organisational standards and promotions, identifying areas of weakness and strength and testing the effectiveness of their clients training programmes.

Innovative business offering

BMI Research also offers a complete research solution to their clients delivering insights across all tiers of their value chain. They also provide valuable insights across multiple sectors and pricing options within their client's industry.

3. Sports Bar

Are you a sports fan? Do you want everyone to come to your establishment every time there's a game on? Then maybe this is the retail business for you.

Related: The Ultimate 101 List Of SA Business Ideas To Get You Started

Before you launch your sports bar, you'll need to learn a trick or two from existing businesses, here is an example of a retail business:

Business Name: The Bay Sport Bar


About the business:

The Bay Sport Bar is a restaurant and bar with an emphasis on sport. They're located at The False Bay Rugby Club, where patrons can either watch sports of all kinds on their screens or support the local rugby games in person.

Innovative business offering

Besides sport, The Bay Sport Bar also offers live entertainment for those looking for a different experience. This helps them expand their target audience to include customers that prefer live music over sport.

4. Flower Shop

Flowers are the go-to gift for most special occasions, why not be the one to supply them in your area? You'll need to decide whether you're going to have an online or physical retail business, as both are possible with a flower shop.

Before you launch your business learn some tip and tricks from this successful example of a retail business:

Business Name: NetFlorist


Established Date: 1999

About the business:

NetFlorist is a platform where customers can buy flowers and send them to their loved ones. NetFlorist itself doesn't grow or hold the flowers, but they outsource them from florists throughout the country.

Innovative business offering

NetFlorist has expanded it's offering to include jewellery, personalised gifts and experiences that their customers can buy and send to their loved ones.

5. Flipping Furniture

Do you enjoy repairing, repainting and reimagining a piece of furniture? This could be the retail business idea for you. Before you start haunting all the second-hand furniture stores in your area, you'll need to learn a few tricks and tips from an operating business.

Related: A Free Business Plan Example to Launch Your South African Business

Here is an example of a retail business you can learn from:

Business Name: New to You


Established Date: 2010

About the business:

New to You is a physical retail store where customers can come and buy or sell their second-hand furniture. Since they're so selective about the items they consign, they are able to maintain a high-end showroom, with the feel of an interior decorating outlet.

Innovative business offering

The founder Tracey Tonathy helps her customers find what they're looking for by keeping a lookout whenever new furniture comes in.

6. Bookstore

If you love books and have a growing knowledge of different authors and genres, then maybe opening a bookstore is for you.

Before you start ordering hundreds of books, you'll first need to know some strategies to keep your business profitable. Here is an example of a retail business you can learn from:

Business Name: Strand


Established Date: 1927

About the business:

Today the Strand carries over 2.5 million used, new and rare books covering topics from occult to philosophy to finance. Their employees are both knowledgeable and passionate about books. They house old treasures for reasonable prices while offering one of the largest, diverse selections of books in the USA.

Innovative business offering

Not only do they sell books, but they also sell literary gifts and goods such as Moleskin products, Shakespeare insult coffee mugs and Strand onesies.

7. Gaming Parlour

Do you love all types of games? Why not open your own gaming parlour and offer a space for others of all ages to enjoy a vast collection of games? Before you launch your business here is an example of a retail business you can use to learn.

Related: Why You Need To Be In The Startup Game To Win It

Business Name: The Game Parlour


About the business:

The Game Parlour focuses on board games and helps people to maintain personal and physical connections with each other as they meet regularly in this board game caféThey have a huge selection of over 900 games from old to new.

Innovative business offering

Besides offering a welcoming and comfortable space for people to meet together over board games, they also offer eats and refreshments for their customers. They serve café style food and boast a speciality coffee and espresso bar.

8. Health Food Store

Being healthy and maintaining health is a continuing trend around the world, making a health food store an ideal retail business idea.

Business Name: Jacksons Real Food Market


Established Date: 2014

About the business:

Jacksons Real Food Market is a small family run business, showcasing local farmers and producers. They offer clean, chemical free food in their markets and their new Bryanston branch won Best food market in the Best of Joburg Awards in 2018, in their first year of operation.

Innovative business offering

Since they already offer healthy food options, they opened a restaurant to expand their offering to their customers. The eatery has experienced phenomenal support as their customers continue to seek out healthy options when eating out.

9. Bed and Breakfast

You can create lodgings with a twist and start your own bed and breakfast business. Come up with a fun theme or decorations to give your bed and breakfast something unique. Before you get started, you'll need to learn a few tips and tricks from existing bed and breakfast businesses.

Related: 20 Innovative Business Ideas Doing Well Overseas (That Could Make You Money In SA)

Here is an example of a retail business you can learn from:

Business Name: A.G. Thomason House


About the business:

A.G. Thomason House offers seven elegant and inviting guest rooms with modern amenities in this 1909 Duluth Colonial building. They also offer views of Lake Superior on their grand veranda, a gazebo, a sunroom, hammocks as well as numerous fireplaces.

Innovative business offering

Besides all of their vast offerings A.G. Thomason House offers unique and customised packages for their customers to ensure they can experience everything the area has to offer.

10. Subscription Boxes

Subscription boxes are growing in popularity, whether it's food, books or beauty products. You can start a subscription box service today.

Business Name: Paw Post


About the business:

Paw Post offers natural, healthy, eco-conscious gift boxes for dogs and cats. They have multiple payment plans from 1, 3, 6, or 12-months.

Their clients can choose between goodies for their dogs, treats for their dogs or a cat box of pet goodies, which will get couriered to their customers' door.

Innovative business offering

Pet Post also has a blog that offers users information on their furry family members as well as the latest pet news and pet friendly establishments their users can visit with their pets.

Related: 11 Uniquely South African Business Ideas

Nicole Crampton

Entrepreneur Staff

Sales Enablement - Content Developer

Nicole Crampton is an SEO specialist who contributes to She has studied a BA Journalism at Monash South Africa and has continued her studies with a Creative Writing degree from UNISA. Nicole has completed several courses in writing and online marketing, and continues to hone her skills and expertise in digital media, digital marketing and content creation.

Health & Wellness

This 103-Year-Old Doctor Opened Her Medical Practice Before Women Could Have Bank Accounts — Here Are Her 6 Secrets to a Healthy, Successful Life

Dr. Gladys McGarey started medical school in 1941 and helped pioneer the holistic medicine movement in the U.S.

Business News

Hacker Who Leaked GTA 6 Sentenced to Life in Psychiatric Hospital

Arion Kurtaj, an 18-year-old member of the cybercrime group Lapsus$, was sentenced to an indefinite hospital order for leaking clips.

Business News

Side Hustles Are Soaring as Entrepreneurs Start Businesses Working Part- or Full-Time Elsewhere, According to a New Report

The younger the entrepreneur, the more likely they were to start a business as a side hustle.


26 Of The Richest People in South Africa

Here are 26 of South Africa's richest people, but how did they achieve this level of wealth? Find out here.


5 Media Kit Examples To Help You Leverage The Power Of Media In Your Branding

Learn from the best and create a media kit that boosts your brand's image and credibility on autopilot. Check out these top five successful media kits that have propelled the growth of their brands' popularity.