Learn about the basics of retail management, responsibilities and skills of retail managers, and how retailers can optimize operations with best practices.
Published 25 Nov 2022
Retail management is the process of running and managing retail outlets’ day-to-day activities surrounding the selling of goods and services to customers. It is the process that aims to make sure that customers are happy with the goods and services they purchase and that retail outlets run smoothly and remain profitable.
Retail management is crucial to the success of any retail store. Key to any effective retail management strategy are the individual store managers. They take care of store employees, help achieve sales goals, assist with maintaining customer satisfaction, oversee the daily activities of the retail outlet, and empower colleagues who may be potential retail store managers in the future.
The word ”retail” comes from the Old French word “retaillier” which literally means “to cut back, cut off, reduce”. Since the early 15th century, the term has been used to describe the “sale of commodities in small quantities or parcels”.
However, the history of retail goes beyond the Middle Ages (5th-15th century) because its birth can be traced back to the Age of Antiquity (3200 BC-476 AD).
From the barter system, or the old method of directly exchanging goods or services before money existed, to primitive shops, trade centers, and open-air, public markets in ancient Persia, Assyria, and Babylonia, retail has been a practice since the beginning of recorded human history.
From standardized coinage as a mode of payment (around 600-500BC) to the development of banknotes or paper money during the Song Dynasty (12th century), the lucrative business of retailing contributes much not only to a nation’s economy, but to the global market as well.
Merging into the Renaissance (12th-15th century) and the Age of Discovery (15th-17th century), retail flourished in Medieval Europe, where traders set up permanent shops in major cities and periodically sold goods in countryside fairs or market towns. Trademarks, or any visible sign used to identify a merchant’s goods and distinguish them from others, began to take on a greater importance during this period.
Transitioning from booth-like shops with dark interiors to general merchandising stores with glazed windows, display cases, and service counters, significant retail innovations, including the invention of price tags, occurred during the Industrial Revolution (18th-19th century).
Emerging multi-vendor spaces operating under covered roofs called “shopping arcades” paved the way for retailing in the modern era—department stores, warehouse shops, and retail outlets.
At the dawn of the contemporary age (1945-present), shopping malls shaped the retail experience to be easily accessible and comfortable for people to spend more time in the facility and increase their likelihood of making purchases.
However, the continuous rise of technological advancement established e-commerce, or buying and selling products through online services or over the internet, as a necessary platform of doing business in today’s retail industry.
The process of retail management has evolved from managing a physical store in one location to handling retail outlets around the world, concentrating efforts on virtual shops or online shopping. The retail management process, as we know it today, entails several key concepts in the fields of business administration, finance, and marketing. Here is the end-to-end retail management process to help you get started in the world of retail:
Eliminate manual tasks and streamline your operations.
Store managers are key to maintaining the profitability of the retail stores and their colleagues can turn to them for help with the following:
According to the UK National Careers Service, here are some of the skills retail store managers should possess:
If you search “why is retail so” on the internet, then you will find that one of the retail world’s most dying questions to be answered is: “What’s so bad about working in retail?” Listed below are our answers to the top 3 most frequently asked questions about working in retail:
While working in the retail industry can be stressful and difficult at times, retail managers can do more than just keep up—they can be excellent and stay on top. Here are some best practices for retail managers to optimize their store operations:
Many retail professionals think that retail management will soon entail virtual reality shopping, where the customer can visit their favorite store, view their products, interact with the staff, and make a purchase, but never leave the house. Others say that there will be less waste and that everything about retail will be simplified—from the displays to packaging to inventory.
Whatever the case though, the world of retail will continue to evolve and the premise remains true as it always has been—the problem you’re trying to solve for the people you want to help. We don’t know exactly what the future of retail management would look like, but when we hold on to this truth no matter how much the times have changed, it will compel us to keep on improving to give the best for our customers.
Today’s retail training can be proactive to prepare for what’s ahead better. As long as retail management keeps their customers at the heart of everything they do, together with their properly trained staff using the right tools, the retail company or brand will be optimally positioned for innovation.
With multiple concurrent responsibilities in retail operations that store managers help look after, SafetyCulture is here to assist in fulfilling the job—like how this Australian supermarket giant empowers their employees to deliver high-quality products and ensure a top-notch shopping experience.
Retail managers can use all the help they can get to be empowered with assisting their staff and run the retail outlet smoothly. Retail store audit checklists are tools that can be used to effectively control and monitor the status, branding, processes, and standardization of retail outlets.
Jona Tarlengco is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture since 2018. She usually writes about safety and quality topics, contributing to the creation of well-researched articles. Her 5-year experience in one of the world’s leading business news organisations helps enrich the quality of the information in her work.
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