Once you’ve laid out the organizational needs of your retail company, you’ll then iron out exactly how you intend to run it — and do so profitably.
Retail management involves facilitating your overall operations in such a way as to benefit both your customers and your company.
For customers, this means determining how to deliver value to your audience, both in terms of the products you sell and the overall experience you provide. On the business side, you need to be able to do all this without overextending your staff — or your bank account.
Here, we’ll provide an overview of the processes involved in retail management, including:
A lot goes on “behind the scenes” within a retail organization. In fact, it’s often your efforts during this planning stage that allow the customer-facing side of your retail business to truly shine.
Some factors to consider:
Note that these are all things to be done both pre- and post-launch of your business. Having a solid plan of attack only matters if you stick to it—and continue to improve—once your store goes live.
By continually evolving your processes as time goes on, you’ll always know exactly what needs to be done to keep your business moving in the right direction.
Procurement means finding a supplier — that is, the right supplier for your business. When sourcing a supplier, there are a number of factors to consider, such as:
Your goal is to find a supplier who you’ll be able to rely on both now and in the future. When it comes time to scale, the last thing you’ll want is to realize your current supplier won’t be able to fulfill your growing needs.
The other side of procurement — once you’ve found the right supplier for your retail business — is the actual act of purchasing products for the purpose of reselling them to the end-user.
As mentioned above, you’ll have likely agreed to specific terms with your supplier, nailing down the amount of product being purchased per order, the cost of each order, as well as how and when you’ll be expected to remit payment.
Finally, you also want to know that your organization has the capacity to take on the orders being placed. That is, you’ll need to have:
The entire point of operating a retail business is to fulfill orders made by the end-user — that is, your target customer.
Fulfillment may seem as simple as moving products from Point A to Point B but the ground-level process is far more involved.
First, develop a systematic procedure to put in place for receiving products from the supplier. As shipments come in, you’ll then conduct quality assurance checks, which will involve:
Typically, the next step involves storing incoming shipments in your warehouse for at least some period of time.
Fulfillment processes encompass:
(As you gain a better understanding of the demand for your products, you’ll be able to further systematize these operations. This may involve, for example, determining your inventory valuation method of choice.)
The next step of fulfillment is, of course, delivery.
This involves doing all of the above (assuring quality, accessibility, etc.) — but doing so as you transport your products. When delivering to multiple locations, you’ll also want to have clear and unobstructed routes defined so your shipments are always able to reach their destination intact and as intended.
Overall, the goal is to minimize the amount of time, energy, and money it takes to deliver products where they need to go — and minimizing the chances of having things go wrong along the way.
Once your products are ready to be displayed in-store (or on your eCommerce website), you can then present them in a way that clearly communicates their value to your customers.
This process, known as visual merchandising, will look very different depending on the type of retail store you run and the type of products you sell. For example, fashion retailers often showcase entire outfits, rather than individual articles of clothing:
Source: Fashion retailer Magnum’s display in its London location.
Supermarkets, on the other hand, will display similar — but not identical — products together.
There’s no “one way” to go about merchandising; you can implement multiple merchandising strategies at a single time throughout your store if need be. Whatever your approach, your aim is to put your products in the best light possible, so that they virtually sell themselves.
Your products won’t always “sell themselves,” no matter how effective your approach to merchandising may be.
This is why talented salespeople and support staff need to be on the ground, ready to help your in-store or online customers at a moment’s notice.
For customers in the preliminary stages of the buyer’s journey, your staff should be able to:
It’s also important for your sales team members to promote other products that will supplement the customer’s overall experience. Whether upselling, cross-selling, or even downselling a given customer, provide the exact value they’re looking to get from you — and getting them to provide as much value to your company as possible.
It’s also essential that you have staff on hand to help dissatisfied customers overcome any problems they may have with your products or services. In some cases, this may mean proactively attending to customers who appear to be in need of assistance; in others, your team might want to take a step back and only provide assistance as requested.
Meet the customer where they want to be met, doing whatever you can to enhance their experience with your brand, and keep them moving forward in their buyer’s journey.
As the owner of a retail business, your main focus should always be on increasing profits. But, we’re not advocating that you aim to make a killing from your customers without providing all that much value in return.
Whether aiming to minimize operational costs or maximize revenues (or both), approach each stage of retail management strategically, and with a clear rationale behind your decisions.
In turn, you’ll create a profitable business that will only continue to grow as time goes on.