What is store management? (And its various components)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 13 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Store management requires specific skills to successfully handle the demanding and often challenging job of managing a retail or wholesale outlet. Effective management helps increase sales and retain customers. Learning about the different elements of the role and how technology can simplify many tasks can help a business run efficiently. In this article, we define store management and explain how it helps businesses maintain control and creates a positive work environment for employees.

What is store management?

Store management involves operating and monitoring all aspects of a retail or wholesale store. This means working with employees, suppliers and customers. Effectively managing a store can boost sales and improve the customer experience. This role involves many retail elements, including inventory, sales and marketing. Understanding each component of managing a store can help a business run an efficient and successful store.

Related: How to become a store manager in 10 steps (with definition)

Components of managing a store

Here are some of the key components of managing stores:

Inventory management

Inventory management includes recording ordered, received, returned, issued or sold goods. Optimising the inventory helps control costs while ensuring items remain within the preset minimum and maximum stock levels. Maintaining the correct levels helps to eliminate stock shortages which may result in customers buying from a business's competitors. Overstocking means that a business spent its money on unsold products that take up storage space.

Related: 10 essential retail skills

Store layout

An effective store layout can maximise shelf space and make it easier for both employees and customers to find the items they want. Optimising displays can increase customer awareness of special offers or a new product range. Carefully considering how and where to place items on shelves can reduce breakage, spillage and theft. Most outlets take item popularity into account when deciding where to place goods on which shelves or in which aisle.

Related: What is visual merchandising and why is it important?

Sales

A store manager's responsibilities include selling products and services. The ability to sell and up-sell is important for assisting customers, training new employees and helping current employees improve their sales skills. Store managers constantly seek new ways to increase sales and meet customer demands. They may set daily or weekly sales targets based on previous periods, which can help them identify customers' shopping habits and market trends.

Related: Sales targets: what they are and how to create and use them

Marketing

Store managers often promote new products through marketing. This may be in-house, using creative product displays, promotions, demonstrations or sampling. A brand's own promotions staff often conduct demonstrations or sampling in retail stores. A store manager may also design social media or email marketing campaigns to publicise special offers or attract new customers.

Related: What is marketing? Definition, strategies and goals

Customer service

One of the most important aspects of managing a store is ensuring that customers receive exceptional service and feel valued. This may involve dealing with queries or resolving complaints. Satisfied customers become repeat buyers and often evolve into ambassadors for the store you work for.

Related: Happy customers: tips for improving loyalty and satisfaction

Customer loyalty programmes

While attracting new customers is desirable, retaining existing ones is also important. Offering incentives for loyal customers to continue supporting the store you work for can help them feel appreciated and valued. Customers who participate in loyalty reward programmes are less likely to compare your employer's prices with those of competitors. Furthermore, when they join a loyalty programme, they provide personal details, which is helpful when creating promotional material for certain demographics or preferences. It also helps you create mailing lists for email marketing campaigns or mailshots.

Related: Customer loyalty benefits and loyalty rewards schemes

Employee management

A store manager's responsibility includes recruiting, training and supervising the right employees for the role. They design shift schedules and assign responsibilities. Managers support all employees, encourage a proper work ethic and ensure the sales team provides outstanding customer service. They also boost employee morale and motivate everyone to meet their sales targets. Store managers conduct employee appraisals, typically once a year. They present employee recognition awards, such as salesperson of the month, often accompanied by a store discount voucher or a paid day off.

Related: The manager's role in the manager-employee relationship

Health and safety

Managers are responsible for creating a comfortable and safe environment for both customers and employees. They usually have a comprehensive understanding of health and safety regulations and industry best practices. They assess activities and inspect the premises to identify potential risks or hazards.

This includes ensuring that all areas are hygienically clean, that fridges and freezers are in good working order and perishable goods are still fresh, that shelves and cabinets are secure and that employees mop spillages and unclutter the aisles. It also means ensuring that all employees know where the fire extinguishers are and what the company's evacuation procedures are.

Related: The importance of health and safety at work (with tips)

Useful software for managing stores

Modern technology has produced software that helps in almost every aspect of running a store. It's important for employees to be familiar with and proficient in using the programs. Some software can be standalone, while others can integrate with other program modules. It can also provide in-depth analytics to help a company streamline its operations and improve sales. Below are four uses of how technology within businesses:

Inventory management software

Inventory management software monitors items on order or back-order. It also tracks received, returned or reissued goods. Inventory software can integrate with a point-of-sale (POS) system, enabling it to automatically reduce stock according to sales figures. It can also generate reports to identify fast-selling and non-moving items, which helps when re-ordering and modifying the minimum and maximum stock levels.

It's still important to conduct regular physical stock counts. This helps identify any discrepancy between the number of items on the shelves and those recorded in the inventory software. You can then determine the reason for the difference, which may be due to a counting error, goods received but not yet unpacked, a program input error or theft.

Related: What is a retail manager CV and how to write one

POS software

A POS system is the physical place where you process a customer's purchase. A POS system comprises the hardware and software that enables you to record the purchased items, generate an invoice or sales slip, process payments and issue receipts. Modern systems can handle cash, cheque, bank card and mobile payments. Most of them enable you to process purchased goods by inputting the product code or scanning the barcode. An integrated system can then automatically update the inventory.

Related: How does retail work? (Including definition, types and tips)

Sales analyses

A sales analysis can show earnings per item, brand, category, department or supplier. It enables you to see what's sold well and what hasn't, which may help to determine whether to raise a minimum stock level or discontinue an item. It can also help identify market trends and seasonal or cyclical fluctuations.

Payroll

Payroll software records employee details and calculates wages and deductions. Pay includes basic salary, overtime, commission, bonus, mileage reimbursement, statutory sick pay, annual leave and maternity or paternity leave. Deductions include National Insurance, pension and any company loan repayments. The software produces payslips for employees. Some programs can provide an entire year's pay history so you can print payslips and reports for any period. It can also pass on the information to the government. You can update most software online to incorporate new or revised legislation.

General skills for managing a store

Store managers oversee both admin and sales activities. They're responsible for developing store opening and closing procedures, establishing and implementing cleaning routines and security strategies and handling the return of faulty or damaged items, whether for replacement, refund or repair under warranty. They also manage budgets and the store's banking and generate the payroll. Store managers possess the following skills:

  • coaching skills and product knowledge to train staff

  • leadership skills to manage employees

  • organisational skills to help streamline procedures

  • multi-tasking skills and the ability to prioritise tasks

  • comprehensive computer skills in retail-related software packages

  • creative skills to help them construct appealing store layouts and product displays

  • communication, problem-solving and decision-making skills to help them resolve customers' issues, employee conflicts or problems with a supplier

  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations

  • maths skills to efficiently manage cash and budgets and devise pricing policies

  • analytical skills to interpret financial statements and statistical reports to help develop sales and marketing strategies

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