What is a Retail Manager?
Also known as: Store Manager.
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A retail manager is someone who is responsible for the management of a retail store. They are responsible for every aspect of the day-to-day supervision of sales, staff, and stock. All employees working in the store report to the retail manager, and the retail manager reports to a district or general manager.
As the old saying goes, “the customer is always right.” Retail managers are often confronted with difficult situations and must show care when dealing with customers. Social media can quickly destroy what was once a good reputation if a customer is mistreated.
How to Become a Retail Manager
What does a Retail Manager do?
A retail manager is responsible for the hiring, the training, and in some cases, the development of employees. Employee development is key; stores can then promote from within and develop capable managers, potentially for employment at other locations. A retail manager may have several subordinates, such as assistant managers, department managers, supervisors, key holders, shift leads, or leads.
Retail managers ensure staffing is adequate to operate the store effectively, and ensure employees receive adequate training for their job responsibilities. Retail managers are often on the shop floor, and are in constant contact with their customers as well as their staff. They ensure their staff give great customer service, and will deal with any customer issues or complaints. They also need to keep their employees motivated, resolve any internal conflicts and make some hard decisions.
A retail manager must meet sales goals (monthly, quarterly, or annual sales - dependent on the company's fiscal cycle). This involves offering sales promotions, setting quotas, or holding contests for employees. There are times when the retail manager may be forced to decrease employees' hours in order to reduce expenditures, and meet sales goals.
Whether it is dealing with employees, customers, management or vendors, retail managers will have to make decisions that affect the company. Having the ability to make hard and fast decisions is crucial to their success. Customers often ask to speak to the manager, and how the manager interacts with customers is crucial for repeat business, employee morale and the health of the company. Great customer service skills will help retail managers solve issues before they become problems, and help create customer loyalty.
Typical responsibilities include:
- recruiting, training, and supervising staff
- facilitating staff development
- managing budgets, and maintaining statistical and financial records
- planning, promoting, and marketing the business
- dealing with customer issues and complaints
- overseeing pricing and inventory control
- meeting sales targets
- preparing store and advertising displays
- performance management and workplace scheduling
- ordering, receiving, price changes, handling damaged products, and returns
- problem solving, and handling unusual circumstances
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How to Become a Retail Manager
On-the-job experience in this line of work is a must. Most retail managers have spent years on the sales floor as general employees before working their way up to retail manager. There are many general management courses available that an individual can take that may shorten the time it takes to reach management level. It is also a bit easier to get a foot in the door if one has a degree in business administration. For those without a degree, internal training and development programs are options.
An individual can become a retail manager in a number of ways:
Promotion from within a retail department
- by building up experience as a retail sales assistant and through training and development, one can move up to sales supervisor then departmental manager jobs. This is a common entry route.
Graduating from a trainee management program
- many retailers run graduate trainee management programs. These combine mentoring and training with work placements in different parts of the business in order to develop retail knowledge, skills and leadership qualities.
Participating in a management apprenticeship program
- apprenticeships in retail management are a popular entry point for individuals with some previous retail experience who want to fast-track their retail management career. Work-based training is combined with study towards retail management qualifications.
Moving from a management job in a related sector
- job opportunities are available by switching from a managerial post in a related field, for example customer service or sales. Individuals would be given training in retail to build on their existing management experience.
What is the workplace of a Retail Manager like?
Stores are often open from 9am to 5pm, and some stores are open 9am to 9pm, therefore retail managers are often required to work non-traditional hours. Hours are likely to include weekends and possibly evenings, depending on the store's opening times.
Retail managers are often promoted by moving to larger stores in larger markets, or to area or regional management. Due to the nature of retail, these positions are rarely in the same city, so moving may be required.