Retail operations managers typically oversee the day-to-day activities of stores that sell physical products. They work to improve the profitability of the business by ensuring products are well-stocked and attractively displayed, keeping the retail staff motivated and implementing efficient operational procedures. These managers can find employment in large retail chains, manufacturer-owned retail outlets, as well as independently owned specialty stores.
Using the Skills
To succeed in the role, retail operations managers should be creative individuals with strong leadership skills. They must find creative ways to motivate the sales staff, such as creating sales competitions where players earn points for each sale they make. These professionals need strong customer-service and analytical skills to identify and assess customers’ needs, and ensure stores offer products that meet these needs. When making operation decisions -- like determining opening and closing hours -- retail operations managers need a solid business acumen to reach decisions that can improve the financial performance of the store.
Improving Operational Efficiency
In large retail chains, retail operations managers are usually stationed at the head office, where they manage the operations of all retail outlets within a certain region. They hire outlet supervisors or managers, and analyze the operational performance of each store. If many stores are underperforming, the operation manager may organize a training seminar to improve the competence of the store heads. When the chain decides to increase the price of a specific product, it is the job of the retail operations manager to communicate the price change to all outlets in the region.
Coordinating Sales Activities
In small stores, retail operations managers have hands-on roles. They are often on the sales floor supervising the sales team or coordinating the stocking of products on shelves. When the customer-service team escalates a compliant, the operations managers resolves it. For example, if a customer’s debit card was charged twice when paying for goods, the manager may ask the customer to provide bank statements showing the double charge, and then refund the cash.
Other duties of retail operations managers include maintaining contact with product suppliers or distributors, presenting financial information to store owners or senior executives, and maintaining customer service reports and other retail documents.
While small retail stores often hire people with an associate degree in retail management or business administration, large chain stores prefer bachelor’s degree holders. Many retail operations managers begin in entry-level positions, such as retail sales coordinator, and work their way up with increase in experience. The National Retail Federation offers a retail management certification that aspirants can combine with a master’s degree in retail management to become general managers of retail chains.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage of first-line supervisors of retail sales workers was $41,450 in 2013. The lowest earners received $23,490, while the highest earners got $62,830.
- Operationsmanager.com: Retail Operations Managers – Career Path and Job Description
- National Retail Federation: Retail Management Certification
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: First-Line Supervisors of Retail Sales Workers
- Monster: Retail Store Manager Sample Job Description
- Photo Credit Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Getty Images
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