Retail management is more challenging than most people realize. Running a store means overseeing everything from customer service and employee performance, to inventory management, marketing, and hitting sales targets.
Retail is a huge sector of the economy and a top employer. Some business students already have experience working as a sales associate (at say, a grocery or clothing store), but not many have held assistant manager or manager positions.
Envision yourself leading a store to success after business college? Or maybe even opening your own store? What should you know about being a truly effective retail manager?
Start with these three timeless words of advice.
Stay on your toes: Change is the only constant in retail
Remember when there were only two seasons in fashion? Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter? Well, now there are 52 "micro seasons" per year. The industry is designed to make shoppers feel out of trend just one week after making a new purchase.
Stores like Zara, H&M, and Forever21 have new styles coming in several times each week (and sometimes daily)—and Topshop introduces 400 styles a week on its website.
You'll see similar trends across many areas of retail, where stores compete for customers by showcasing the "newest" products and hottest merchandise. Managers must content with a veritable rotating door of stock deliveries, not to mention constant questions around which new items to showcase, promote, discount, etc.
In the highly competitive world of retail, it's all about grabbing attention—and that means embracing the often fickle, always changing, world of consumer demand.
Value your employees: They're your greatest asset
Ever experienced a manager who treated you like an expendable, second class citizen? Or a supervisor who acted like they alone steered the store to success?
It's true that managers perform many crucial, behind-the-scenes tasks; however, it's what happens out on the store floor that really makes or breaks you in retail. Sales associates are your direct links to consumers, and without a doubt, your most valuable asset.
One negative interaction with a rude or unhelpful sales assistant can lose you a customer for life. On the other hand, the stronger your team is at informing, assisting, and building rapport with new clients, the better your store will perform.
The best way to build your team? Good examples include:
- providing thorough training (one day won't be enough!)
- setting clear work standards and goals for performance
- encouraging staff to explore, try on, and try out new product lines (the more familiar they are with the stock, the better they'll be able to sell it)
- openly praise hard-working employees (save constructive criticism for behind closed doors)
- arrange team events (or rewards like free dinners or coffees) to bring your staff together and build positive working relationships
It's worth investing in your employees. If not, you'll end up forever firing and hiring new team members—a very costly and time consuming process that will eat into your store's profits, and undermine your reputation as a manger.
Organization is key: Get ready to multi-task like never before
All management roles demand a certain degree of organizational skills—but retail pushes these demands to a whole new level!
From coordinating employee schedules, to running team meetings, to reviewing financials, to overseeing website updates, to managing inventory, to dealing with customer complaints...retail managers juggle an amazingly wide range of tasks on a daily basis.
This keeps the job interesting, but it also presents serious time-management and organizational challenges. You'll need to structure each day carefully to stay on top of deadlines and tasks, but at the same time, be flexible enough to respond to spontaneous issues that crop up (like an employee calling in sick at the last minute, a problem with a delivery, or an issue with online orders).
This boils down to certain traits and skills all good retail managers must possess:
- calm under pressure
- flexibility and effective problem-solving
- planning and organization
- good stress-management
- sense of humour
Anything can happen during a day in retail. The best managers embrace the challenge, and thrive on the competition.
Sound like a good match for your natural skillset and career goals? Considering business colleges to launch your career in management?
Take a look at Herzing's Business Administration Training, delivered at both our Montreal campuses (downtown and St. Leonard locations).
This 14-month diploma covers sales, marketing, accounting principles, customer service, and the full range of skills needed to work toward a business management role.
Visit the program page to browse a detailed list of business administration courses included in the program, and chat live with a friendly advisor. We're here to help!