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Best Retail Business Loans for 2021

Getting a foot in the door of the retail industry is not always easy and you may need a retail loan to get you started. Our guide will reveal the top retail business loan options, features, and potential lenders.

Financially Reviewed by Gordon Scott

At a glance Running a commercial business can be exciting, and has the potential to keep you busy all year long. However, finding the capital and operating funds you need to get started is challenging, especially given the current economic landscape. There are many pitfalls to avoid, for example, you don’t want to be hooked into a contract longer than necessary. Read our detailed guide on retail business loans to discover the standard loan features and which lenders we recommend.

A Quick Overview of The Best Retail Business Loans

Finding the right retail business loans is challenging. We’ve listed the most relevant options here below with links to the preferred lenders. 

Financing Need

Best Loan Type

Loan Features 

Recommended Lender

Capital investment

SBA loan

  • Amount: Up to $5 mil
  • Term: Up to 25 years
  • Interest: From 6% and up
  • Time to get the loan: Up to 2 weeks

Funding Circle

Fixed and moveable assets

Equipment financing

  • Amount: 100% value of equipment
  • Term: Up to 6 years
  • Interest: Between 4% and 40%
  • Time to get the loan: Up to 48 hours 

SmartBiz

Inventory stock

Inventory financing

  • Amount: $250,000
  • Interest: 15.00 - 78.00%
  • Approval: as fast as 5 minutes
  • Min credit score: 600

BlueVine

Cash flow

A business line of credit

  • Amount: Up to $500,000
  • Term: Up to 18 months
  • Interest: Between 7% and 25%
  • Time to get the loan: Up to 24 hours

OnDeck

Emergency funds

Merchant cash advance

  • Amount: Up to $500,000
  • Term: Repaid weekly or monthly
  • Interest: Up to 1.5% of sales
  • Time to get the loan: Up to 24 hours

Square Capital

Upgrade equipment, hire additional staff, pay taxes, renovate business, invest in advertising strategies

Short Term Loans

  • Amount: $5,000 to $500,000
  • Term: Up to 15 months
  • Interest: One-time factor rate
  • Time to get the loan: Up to 72 hours

Fora Financial

Best Retail Business Loans Explained

Now that you’ve seen which retail business loans are available, let’s analyze each one further. We’ll also explain why we feel each lender is appropriate for the indicated finance solution.

1. Funding Circle - Best for SBA Loan

Small Business Administration (SBA) is beneficial if you are looking for a massive capital investment that you can pay off over more than a decade. Thanks to the government’s support, with these financial solutions you’ll pay less interest than you would with standard term loans. You can only apply for funding if you’re looking to make a profit, and not if you’re working for charity.

SBA loans are a good option when you’re looking to purchase or renovate a property and need an enormous capital injection. You can also include the cost of other fixed and movable assets you may need for your retail business, such as computer technology and security upgrades. Lenders are fond of offering retail companies startup capital thanks to the promise of a decent return on investment.

Funding Circle has a P2P lending model that works much like an SBA loan, but you’ll have a better chance of approval. Thanks to its innovative system, you’ll also be able to apply for other business loans when you need them. You’ll be given a dedicated account manager who will assist you along the way.

2. SmartBiz - Best for Equipment Financing

As the name implies, equipment financing lets you purchase the assets and equipment you will need to successfully run your business. Many companies prefer this financing solution, as you can receive approval for up to the entire equipment value. The only downfall is that the lender will reclaim the assets if you fail to pay.

Your retail business is going to need furniture, fittings, shelving, sales terminals, and a host of other equipment. Rather than take a term or SBA loan, you can aim for equipment financing, as it has a shorter repayment period. You can also use an equipment financing loan if you plan on leasing machinery for a year or two.

SmartBiz is an approved SBA lender that can help you obtain equipment financing through various solutions. SmartBiz will help you decide how much you need to loan to ensure that you won’t run short in the first few years. They also have a faster approval rate than banks and many other financial associations in the industry.

3. BlueVine - Best for Inventory Financing

Inventory financing works much the same way as equipment loans but focuses on the initial stock that you will need. Inventory financing helps small businesses that can’t afford term loans, providing a short repayment period with low to medium interest. You will also receive up to the total value of the stock, based on a professional evaluation.

Since your retail business will need merchandise more than equipment, you may want to focus on inventory financing. You can stock up your shelves and storage rooms, to ensure that you can close sales in the first year. This will help keep that initial turnover and keep the ball rolling. You’ll need to ensure that you regularly replenish your inventory so that you can repay your loan on time.

BlueVine is our choice for inventory lines of credit. BlueVine's line of credit for inventory financing provides quick working capital for short-term borrowing requirements. With speedy approval times and multiple terms lengths for financing needs, BlueVine is a solid choice. 

4. OnDeck - Best for Business Line of Credit

If you’re saving your capital and operating funds for employee wages and turnover, a business line of credit can help you deal with unexpected expenses. It works like revolving credit, giving you the chance to reuse the funds you repay. What’s more, you only need to pay interest on what you’ve used and not on the entire loan amount.

It’s dangerous to use the revenue you accumulate during the day on nonessential items. If you suddenly need funding to cover urgent costs, a business line of credit is a good backup to have. As a matter of fact, some retail stores now offer shoppers a line of credit, via lenders, as a means to repay them at the end of the month.

A specialist in short-term loans, OnDeck delivers an excellent business line of credit that will see you through hard times. You can use a business line of credit when in the initial stages of your business, as you don’t need a track record to qualify. It also offers you a higher loan limit if you’re a loyal customer.

5. Square Capital - Best for Merchant Cash Advance

A merchant cash advance is useful for businesses that accept debit and credit card payments. With this loan type the lender provides you with a lump sum, but you’ll need to repay a minimum amount weekly or monthly. The repayments are taken as percentages of the card sales made by your clients.

Shoppers are fond of using bank cards to make purchases in retail stores. It’s more convenient and safer than carrying around cash. If you want to take advantage of this, you can apply for a merchant cash advance and let your clients pay your loan off with every purchase they make.

Square Capital provides merchant cash advance for registered members, supplying them with card machines in their retail stores. If you aren’t a member, you’ll need to register first. This way, you’ll have a formal account with them, which you will be able to use to manage your income and expenses.

6. Fora Financial - Best for Short-term Loans

A short term loan is a good way to boost the cash flow of your company to help with a variety of expenses. This type of loan can be useful for a variety of businesses, such as construction, retailing or manufacturing.

If you are looking for a fast and easy access to finances, Fora Financial is recommended for all types of businesses. You can get approved for up to $500,000 in only 24 hours and the finances will be available 72 hours after approval.

You have up to 15 months to repay the loan which will save you a lot of interest compared to long term loans. You can get a no-obligation free quote from them and don’t need any collateral in order to qualify for a loan. There are also discounts for early paying off.

Recommended Reading: Best Hospitality Business Loans in 2021

How Much Does it Cost to Open a Retail Business?

When you create your business plan for your retail business, you’ll need to include what your startup costs will be. If you’ve never done this before, it can be daunting. Here we will show you what the usual expenses are, for a retail business, and will provide a general estimate of the amount you will need to loan. 

However, we need to warn you that it’s generally better to overestimate than to underestimate. If you don’t obtain enough stock and equipment in your first few months, your business could fail to meet your customers’ demands. You might think that one of the listed expenses isn’t significant, but you may regret not covering it in your loan request.

One of the variables that may affect cost accounting is whether you will lease, buy, or develop a property. As a startup business, you should look for the most affordable option as you can always expand in the future. 

Of course, the overall costs will also vary based on the type of merchandise you will be selling and how big you are wanting to start out. You could borrow anywhere between $20,000 and $500,000. Here’s a quick look at what you should include in your calculations:

  • Rental
  • Business registration
  • Permits and licenses
  • Store fixtures
  • Fixed assets, equipment, and furniture
  • Initial inventory
  • Computer and sales technology
  • Website and marketing
  • Employee wages
  • Facilities management (cleaning, hygiene, maintenance, etc.)
  • Signage and interior decorating
  • Security
  • Professional services
  • Miscellaneous expenses

Recommended Reading: Exciting Insight Into Nightclub Financing

How to Choose the Best Retail Business Loans

Many of the above loans are attractive, but you may not find one solution for all the necessary costs. As you may have seen, there are lenders that offer various loan options as part of their services. You’ll need to evaluate your business plan with them. They will be able to guide you and help you decide how best to approach the opening of your retail business. 

You shouldn’t necessarily accept the first proposal made by a loan company. Read through the terms and conditions carefully, ensuring that they aren’t tying you down to clauses that you don’t want to accept. You also don’t want to be held to a contract for several years without the option to settle the loan sooner.

Finally, make sure that you ask for more than you need. In some instances, you might need to make a down payment and in other cases you will only receive a percentage of the total loan amount. It’s also a safety mechanism, in case you need to, for example, restock or account for unexpected repairs. 

Recommended Reading: Best Photography Business Loans

See Our Additional Guides on Industry-Specific Loans

Bottom Line

While we’ve provided you with exceptional insight into retail business loans, it’s imperative that you consider all your options thoroughly so that you can make the best choice possible. Remember to consider applying for more than you need, and check that the funding stipulations match your business plan vision before you commit to anything. We hope that you succeed in obtaining the loan that works for you. Good luck!