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How to Write a Grocery Store Business Plan

Marcel DeerAuthor

Business Plan for Grocery Store Guide

Americans spend 12.8% of their income on food, across both groceries and eating out. Grocery store spend for consumers is one of the largest monthly expenses and makes up a significant percentage of share of wallet spend. 

In the grocery retail landscape, success hinges on strategic market positioning, where both the bottom of the market and high end of the market being attractive options. Low-cost stores thrive by appealing to budget-conscious shoppers, offering affordable options through streamlined operations and high-volume sales. Meanwhile, premium grocery stores cater to a smaller yet willing clientele, who prioritize quality, unique offerings, and personalized service over price. By understanding and meeting the distinct needs of their respective customer bases, both low-cost and premium stores demonstrate the power of strategic alignment in achieving an enduring grocery store business.

Regardless of the strategy you choose, the best place to start is with a grocery store business plan that covers all the bases and helps you find stakeholders to support your enterprise. 

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • Why a grocery store business plan is so important

  • What your plan should include

  • How to present it to potential investors

How to Write a Grocery Store Business Plan

Grocery can specialize in certain types of food, levels of quality, or price ranges. They can be local, family-owned businesses or massive corporate-owned superstores. But all of these businesses need plans. New owners need to know who they’re targeting and how, what’s necessary to create and operate their business, and how all of these pieces will fall into place.

It’s important to clarify and simplify your business ideas into one coherent direction, and your business plan can help you do just that. Ex-CEO of retail giant Costco, Craig Jelinek, says,

“We want to keep what we do simple. If you start to drift and become complicated, it costs you a lot of money to be complicated.”

By planning out the fine details, you can keep things on track and prevent issues from ever becoming problems.

Elements of a Grocery Store Business Plan

The major sections you need in your plan should give your readers the necessary details they need to understand how your business will be set up, how it will operate, and how money will flow through it. These include:

Executive summary

The most impactful part plan should be a strong summary that explains the major points of your business. This is also where you can define your company in terms of a mission statement, concept, potential costs, and core values. You should briefly but captivatingly explain the purpose of your business and why it will succeed so that your potential partners and investors will be enticed to read on.

Company Overview

Define the kind of company structure you want to set up. Will it be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a limited liability company? Define the ownership structure. Talk about the location you’ve selected or the general area and explain its significance. This is also the time to define your grocery store’s unique selling points. Explain to your audience what’s different about your business idea and how that will make you competitive.

Team and Management

Like with all enterprises, success in the grocery business requires strong leadership, excellent management, and great staff. This section of your business plan can focus on who will run the store’s day-to-day operations and who will manage the business at a higher level. You can define your staff schedule, the positions that you’ll need (like cashiers, stock handlers, delivery drivers, and more), and the strategies you’ll use to fill them. 

Market Analysis

It’s not enough to simply have an exciting business idea. Even if it’s novel, interesting, and likely effective, it could fall flat if it were set up in a location where it can’t outcompete a popular incumbent. This is why it’s crucial to look at what the competition is doing and to be sure that you have something better or different to offer.

Target Market

People have a lot of choices, so be sure you’re focused on certain segments of the population that may be underserved and looking for a new option. Find out who these people are and what they want in terms of products and services. They might be looking for Pick Up & Go services that are not yet available where they live or for specialty items like exotic produce that no one else is providing.

Grocery stores can target different market segments based on their offerings and pricing. Explain which market which segment you store is going after, and why you have a right to win in that segment.

  • Low-End Segment: Focuses on affordability with basic products and minimal frills, appealing to budget-conscious shoppers.

  • Mid-Market Segment: Balances affordability and quality, offering a diverse range of products including budget-friendly options and branded items.

  • Premium Segment: Emphasizes quality and specialty products, catering to affluent shoppers seeking gourmet foods and upscale offerings.

Location Analysis

A great location is paramount for a grocery store. Analyze the area you’ve selected by starting broad and zooming in to find a location that offers everything you need, from space to parking or easy access to public transportation. Make sure your target customers can and will get there easily.

Competitive Analysis

In what way is your business uniquely positioned to succeed in this market? Choose a vector or two that you can compete on and win. You might focus on affordability, convenience, product quality, or any number of other features. Define what they are and your advantage over your competitors.  

Marketing and Publicity

Unless people know about your business and what it offers, it won’t succeed. That’s why a marketing plan is an essential part of your overall grocery store business plan. You may need to work with a marketing firm or a consultant to develop effective strategies that range from special events to promotions. You’ll also need to define your budget for both startup and ongoing marketing as a percentage of your revenue.

Here are potential marketing ideas to improve your grocery store's marketing strategy, that you can include in your business plan.

  • Digital Loyalty Programs: Implement digital loyalty programs with incentives like discounts and exclusive deals to foster customer loyalty.

  • Social Media Engagement: Engage customers through captivating content on social media platforms, showcasing fresh produce, cooking tips, and behind-the-scenes insights.

  • Local Partnerships: Collaborate with local farmers and artisans to highlight locally sourced products, appealing to consumers' interest in sustainability.

  • Interactive In-Store Experiences: Host cooking demos, tasting events, and workshops to enhance the shopping experience and promote products.

  • Personalized Marketing Campaigns: Utilize data analytics to tailor marketing campaigns, sending personalized offers and recommendations via email or mobile apps.

  • Online Ordering and Delivery: Offer online ordering and delivery services for added convenience, ensuring a seamless shopping experience from click to doorstep.

  • Eco-Friendly Initiatives: Implement eco-friendly initiatives like plastic-free packaging and recycling programs, appealing to environmentally conscious shoppers.

Business Operations 

How will your operations work from day to day? Think about what you need in place to make sure the business keeps running smoothly. 

Systems and Equipment

Think about the systems you’ll need to use, especially for the complicated functions of inventory, point of sale, payroll, and team scheduling. You’ll also need great equipment, including things like carts, pallet trucks, freezers, coolers, and, of course, cash registers. Look into the latest technology for grocery stores, like automated scanners and self-checkout stations, to give yourself a leg up on the competition.


A great grocer needs to have groceries fully in stock at all times. Figure out who your main suppliers will be and how you’ll build lasting relationships with them.

Sales Forecasts and Operating Expenses

Potential partners and investors want to see the bottom line. They want to know how profitable your business will be after one year, five, and ten so they can make their own projections. Some of the most important financial statements to show include:

Profit & Loss

Your profit and loss statement explains your profits, costs, and expenses over a period of time to show whether you’ll expect a profit or loss during that period.

Break-even analysis

Your break-even point is simply when your profit is greater than your fixed and variable costs. This will let you know how much you need to sell before you start making money.

Expected cash flow

Calculate how much money will come in and out of your grocery store in the course of a week or a month to know what volume of trade you expect to be doing.

Financing and Loans

Once you know how much you need to start and run your business, you’ll have to figure out where to get it. You can consider taking out a loan, in which case you’ll need to work out a plan for repayment. You could also ask for investment in exchange for equity in the business. Many companies work out a combination of debt and equity financing to get the funds they need to start doing business.

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How to Present a Grocery Store Business Plan

The process of creating your business plan makes you an expert on the details of your business. With the document you create, you’ll be able to communicate these details to the people who can support your idea. But how can you reach them?

Some entrepreneurs broadcast their business plans, emailing them out far and wide, while others use a targeted approach to gain meetings with potential investors through their network of contacts. Both approaches may bear fruit, especially if you have a very strong pitch to go along with your plan. You should be able to explain why someone should join you in this venture with a short, enticing pitch that makes you and your project memorable.

Why Toast Retail is Perfect for Grocery Stores

In today's competitive retail landscape, selecting the right technology is essential for both new ventures and established businesses aiming for success. Solutions like Toast retail not only streamline operations, making them more efficient, but also provide invaluable insights to optimize the financial health of the business. 

By harnessing the power of point of sale technology, retailers can gain a competitive edge, improve customer satisfaction, and drive sustainable growth. Choosing the right technology sets the foundation for long-term success, empowering businesses to adapt to evolving market demands and thrive in an increasingly digital world.

The tech that redefined restaurants is now here to transform retail. Supercharge your store with the POS built for high volumes and complexity, offering everything you need to run your business on one platform. Toast's retail offering is a game-changer for businesses like convenience stores, liquor stores, and grocery stores, revolutionizing how they operate and interact with customers. Here's why Toast is the perfect fit for these retail environments.

1. Helps Modernize How You Sell

Toast's intuitive, cloud-based system simplifies daily operations. Its user-friendly interface makes staff training a breeze, ensuring seamless adoption across your team. Whether it's processing payments in-store or integrating with online sales channels, Toast ensures a smooth and consistent experience for your customers regardless of how they shop.

  • Intuitive Cloud-Based System: Our intuitive, cloud-based system is easy to learn and easy to use. Say goodbye to complicated interfaces and hello to streamlined processes. Toast is designed to simplify your day-to-day operations, from staff training to consolidated operations, ensuring maximum efficiency and productivity.

  • Seamless Payment Processing: Toast’s seamless payment processing easily integrates with online payments for smoother sales every time, no matter how your customers are shopping. This integration ensures a hassle-free experience for both customers and staff, leading to increased satisfaction and faster transactions.

  • Flexible Order and Checkout Options: Offer flexible and efficient order and checkout options with reliable hardware including handhelds, kiosks, and guest-facing terminals. Adapt to the diverse needs of your customers and reduce wait times at checkout with Toast's versatile hardware solutions, enhancing the overall shopping experience.

2. Streamline Retail Management

Efficiency is key in retail, and Toast delivers with automated, mobile-first inventory management. Say goodbye to manual inventory tracking and hello to SmartScan, a feature that enables quick product scanning and shelf placement. Managing thousands of SKUs becomes effortless with Toast's intuitive product database and bulk update capabilities.

  • Automated, Mobile-First Inventory: Experience the freedom of automated, mobile-first inventory management with Toast. Create and print barcodes in bulk, and take new products from scan to shelf in seconds with our SmartScan feature. Say goodbye to tedious manual inventory tasks and hello to streamlined operations.

  • Efficient SKU Management: Easily manage thousands of SKUs with our intuitive product database and bulk updates feature. Modify, reprice, and import multiple products at once, saving valuable time and resources. With Toast, keeping track of your inventory has never been easier.

  • Retail-Enhanced Dashboards: Stay on top of your business with retail-specific dashboards and cost-tracking reports. Monitor trends, maximize margins, and ensure your top-selling products are always stocked, empowering you to make data-driven decisions that drive profitability.

3. Tailor Your Customer Experience

Toast empowers you to tailor the customer experience to fit your unique retail concept. Whether you're considering adding food service or expanding your offerings, Toast's flexible platform accommodates creative expansion.

  • Creative Expansion Opportunities: Thinking of adding food service to your retail concept? Including Kitchen Display Systems and Order Ready Boards, our flexible platform allows for creative expansion. Explore new revenue streams and enhance the overall customer experience with Toast's versatile features.

  • Online Ordering and Delivery Integrations: Give your guests the option to order from home with Toast’s Online Ordering and our third-party delivery integrations. Meet your customers where they are and provide convenience that keeps them coming back, increasing customer loyalty and satisfaction.

  • Loyalty Rewards and Personalized Offers: Be your neighborhood's favorite shop (and incentivize repeat visits) with loyalty rewards and personalized offers. Transform one-time shoppers into loyal patrons by engaging with your community and offering enticing rewards, making your store the go-to destination for your customers.

In conclusion, Toast's retail solution is more than just a point of sale system; it's a comprehensive toolkit designed to elevate your retail store to new heights. From modernizing sales processes to streamlining management and enhancing the customer experience, Toast empowers retail businesses to thrive in today's competitive market.

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DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes only, and publication does not constitute an endorsement. Toast does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, graphics, links, or other items contained within this content. Toast does not guarantee you will achieve any specific results if you follow any advice herein. It may be advisable for you to consult with a professional such as a lawyer, accountant, or business advisor for advice specific to your situation.