Important retail manager skills needed to succeed
Wondering how to be a retail manager who employers are looking for? This is what it takes to get the keys to the store.
Retail managers have to do it all: work with customers, manage sales associates, hit monthly store quotas and pitch in whenever something needs to get done.
That’s why employers in the retail industry often look for a blend of "diverse, transferable skills on a resume that are indicative of a versatile, well-rounded candidate who has a good understanding of the industry and is able to adapt as needed," says Michael Lan, resume consultant at Resume Writer Direct in Wilmington, Delaware.
These are the seven skills you most need to be a success as you rise in the ranks.
Customer service is critical for everyone in retail, says career communications specialist Kelly Donovan in Los Angeles. Retail is all about making sure the customer has an excellent experience every time, so this skill should be at the top of your list.
As a retail manager, you'll be supervising a team that may include inexperienced employees earning modest wages for a tough job, Donovan says. You’ll need a track record of your leadership capabilities, and you must be able to provide examples of how you motivate people.
Devin Pappas, who works as a store manager and visual merchandiser for Clearwater, Florida-based Patchington, says that being able to assess other people’s strengths and identify areas of opportunities is key. Depending on how the store or chain is managed, you may be asked to provide one-on-one management and written action plans for store teams. You’ll also have to create a team environment to get everyone working together.
You may also be responsible for employees’ training and development, and you will need a background in recruiting or networking in the retail market to help fill positions, Pappas says. You’ll need to be able to handle delicate situations with fairness and patience, follow corporate guidelines and hold every employee to high standards.
“Most retail employees are responsible for sales,” Donovan says. “So sales skills are essential for the majority of retail applicants, whether you're going for an associate position or a management position.”
Have examples ready that show you understand how to turn a browser into a buyer, and how to maximize sales by upselling customers with add-ons to their purchases.
Your own sales experience may not be enough. Not only do you need to motivate people to work, you must motivate people to sell, Donovan says.
A background in sales leadership is vital for retail managers. You may be asked to train sales associates and then improve their sales numbers over time.
Retail is constantly changing, says Lisa Ritchie, vice president of human resources at Match Marketing Group in Mississauga, Ontario. Retail managers need to be flexible and mentally tough to deal with day-to-day variations. While the uncertainty of the industry can be exciting, it can also lead to burnout if you don’t have the chops to handle the ups and downs.
Retail is a fast-moving and dynamic industry, and it takes a lot to stay on top of everything that’s going on. Successful retail managers are organized, good planners and strong troubleshooters, Pappas says. Being able to multitask helps as well.
You’ll need to draw on your communication skills to work with employees, customers and your own manager, Pappas says. You’ll be directing store meetings and will need to confront a variety of internal and customer-facing situations, both positive and negative. Being able to communicate effectively will serve you well through it all.
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