Retail management surely is a heavy responsibility – and that’s because you play a vital role in the business’s success. You’ll have to wear many hats: A sales associate, customer service representative, manager, or even social media manager.
And as many retail stores are now exploring multi-channel sales, the number of caps only continues to grow. Let’s see how you can equip yourself with the appropriate skills, staff, and technology to help you steer a tight ship into operation.
One of the essential roles of a retail manager is to coordinate and encourage retail employees. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that’s especially important considering employee turnover rates in the retail industry. Additionally, 38% of retailers reported an increase in employee turnover from 2016 to 2017, with the highest turnover of hourly employees at 65%.
Retail management can play a big role in scaling down a business. Let’s look at the journey of an employee and the role of an effective manager at each stage:
“Hiring the right team from the beginning, most experts agree, is the single best way to reduce employee turnover. Interview and interview candidates carefully to make sure they not only have the right skills. That’ll also help you figure out if they fit in well with the company culture, managers, and coworkers,” writes the Wall Street Journal.
As a retail manager, you play a vital role in hiring those individuals, ensuring they’re the right fit for that position, and setting smart expectations. Ask candidates hypothetical questions to give you an idea of how they will perform in the store under pressure and specific but challenging situations.
After finding the right talent, you’ll want to ensure that their transition into the role goes smoothly. A big part of this is training employees to be up to date on everything from sales tips to placing in-store displays on the brand.
If you use some special tools for that, remember to train new employees on how to use them properly. Perhaps the most crucial piece of technology you’ll want them to master is your POS.
Keeping the onboarding process consistent and complete can help document that process. This includes specific training, milestones, performance goals, and deadlines for new employees. That keeps you and your employees on the same page. Also, it means each staff member goes through the same training and has similar experiences and expectations.
Once you’ve onboarded employees, that doesn’t mean it’s time to leave them to their own devices. As a retail manager, it is your job to keep engaging with them in their onboarding journey. But how can you make sure that those performance goals we told you to set? Have regular 1:1 meetings with your employees to check progress and set new goals when past goals are met.
And as much as it is your job to lead and advise, it is almost more important to remember to listen to your employees. Listen to their challenges and solve them, listen to their ideas and encourage them. Identify staff strengths and assign roles and responsibilities that fulfill them.
Every business, whether a multinational media company or a retail store, has a corporate culture. Culture is a living, breathing part of your retail store that exists whether you are dealing with it or not. Culture either controls you, or you control it. But the bottom line is that if you’re not addressing the culture in your retail store, you’re making your job a lot harder.
Your culture consists of the values, beliefs, and behaviors of you and your employees. The part of your business will undo any new policy, practice, or standard that you may try to enforce. Often the master says one thing, but his behavior says something else.
For example, one of the main obstacles to having an integrated sales process is the retail manager or store owner spreading the word about the sales process but not following it themselves. Employees see this and know that company values should not be confused with speech.
In other words, the owner “promoted” how important the sales process was but didn’t follow through on their own when they were at the sales stage. Culture grows and develops in a cycle. That’s important because if you try to change the attitude of your employees (like many managers do), the culture cycle proves that it won’t work. To change the non-constructive attitudes, you have to change beliefs and values.
Everything speaks for your culture. Every sign you make, every policy you pass, every decision you make reflects the true beliefs and values that you accept as a business.
Take a moment to examine your vision for the store, explore the culture, and see if it aligns.
Without standards in your retail store, employees will make up some for themselves. If there is no standard, how will employees know if they are doing it right or wrong?
Think of it this way, your version of a “clean” bathroom is probably very different from your staff’s. So if you hire them to clean, you can understand the cleaning that you and your customers are not happy with. Putting things in writing always makes a difference.
You might be reading this and saying, “That sounds like a lot of work,” and you’d be correct, but remember, it’s a one-time job, times like the time it takes to fix a poor performance- not bar. Here’s a trick to help your employees. Constantly update and improve your standards.
It’s easy to be complacent, but your customer continually changes and evolves their desires in a retail store. That means that you have to update and develop your standards to deliver a great customer experience every time.
Nine of the top 10 businesses representing different retail sectors indicate that growth takes more to retail management and strategy than any type of tide-raising boat in a particular category.
Staying on top of stock control is one of the most significant ways you can contribute. Shrinkage is a costly issue for retailers. Globally, in 2017, Tyco Retail Solutions found a turnover of approximately $100 billion in 2017. As a retail manager, there are several damage prevention steps you can take to reduce shrinkage.
Keep a routine cycle counting method. A simple physical count is when you count a part of your inventory to estimate your total stock.
Philip Pravda of SuitCafe.com would do a physical count every day while he was managing his store. “I’ll pick the smaller portions of the store… [and] count them with the style number and size, then go to my computer and compare. It’s hard for a small business to have an entire store because you’re always helping customers.” And don’t want to be off the list.”
Tyco also found that exterior theft/shoplifting contributed the most, reducing lost sales by over 35% – followed by internal theft at about 25%.
Just because you’re in charge of the retail management doesn’t mean you have to do it all. (Remember that the ability to delegate is a top leadership quality.) Communicate openly about why staying on top of stock controls is essential and provide education and training on how they can help.
Most retail operations can be streamlined with the right tools. From selecting the right POS system to finding the best inventory management software, this technology can change how you do your job and how efficiently the overall business is run.
Use automated reports to find the items that are selling fast and which need additional promotion. Identify differences in online and brick-and-mortar trends. And look for opportunities to boost sales through creative promotions and campaigns.
Today’s data-driven retailers are the fastest growing and most sustainable. Understanding metrics like sales rate, sales per square foot, and gross and net profit can help you make more practical recommendations that will make a real difference to the bottom line. With the right tech stack, you don’t need to be an analyst to understand your data.
No matter what you do, there’s always room for improvement and honing your old skills. Some key areas to consider getting additional training are:
Even if it is not a core part of your duties, there will come a time when every retail manager will have to increase sales actively.
If you want to take your education a little further, consider sales training and courses. If scheduling is a challenge, there are several online options. You can also attend an in-person training or hire consultants to come to your location to keep you and your sales team up to speed.
A key difference between being a retail sales associate and a manager is the added responsibility of being in charge. And suppose you’re transitioning from sales to retail management. In that case, you’ll want to pick up some more skills to help you lead more effectively.
As already mentioned in our previous blog, retail managers must possess these seven critical leadership skills:
If you expect employees to have an in-depth knowledge of brands and products, it’s a good idea for you to do so as a retail manager. Use products, get to know them, understand your competitors, and stay up-to-date with product and brand training. If there is no training or documentation, start a conversation with your superior.
The three worst words for a client to hear from a colleague are, I don’t know. Keep an eye out for everyone who checks the shipment for what’s new. Ask employees to try on, handle, or use new merchandise,
Inventory management and operational functions fall on your shoulders. If you don’t have the required experience in these areas, it’s a good idea to study and learn your role in retail management.
Retail managers need to serve customers and ensure they are supporting their sales team. They oversee stocking, ensure promotions and signage are up-to-date, and schedule the sales team.
Today’s retail managers also have new challenges, he continues. 86% of the customers shop on more than one channel. That means brick-and-mortar businesses often open online sales channels. The aim is to diversify income streams and tap into a new customer base. Managers may contribute to online order fulfillment, customer service, in-store pickup, online returns, and even website management.
There is a wide range of skills to learn, so it is best to identify the best training option to look at your particular needs.