Anyone who has worked in retail management knows that retail leaders are something special. They have a wide range of skills and they bring a lot to the table.
In fact, I bet anyone from a different industry who has hired a former retail manager knows this as well. It's just a fact at this point.
Here are 10 things that make retail leaders stand out:
1. Their experience comes from one of the most challenging and highly competitive industries imaginable.
Retail has always been extremely challenging and competitive, from the days of Macy's vs. Gimbels to today. But in the last several years, things have gotten especially crazy, as you know. Many say retail is dying but I disagree - it's just changing like it's never changed before. The pressure, pace, and competition is off the charts.
2. They walk that line between entrepreneurial spirit and corporate mindset.
Retail leaders often manage their stores and districts with an entrepreneurial drive. They plan for the future, build strong teams, and make critical decisions every day to grow the business - usually without someone peering over their shoulder. At the same time, they are accountable to corporate execs, investors, and so on. The best of both worlds.
3. They are accomplished team builders and talent managers.
Retail leaders are typically responsible for building their teams, and the success of their business depends on how well they do that. They generally have a LOT of experience in recruiting, interviewing, hiring, on-boarding, training, coaching, performance management, progressive discipline, engagement, succession planning, retention, and talent development.
4. They excel at providing an extraordinary customer experience.
Whether it's a small boutique that provides personal, attentive service, or a big-box warehouse with very little actual customer contact, retail leaders understand their customer and what they need. They're on the front lines seeing what's happening and making key decisions to elevate the experience, not in a remote office somewhere.
5. They manage a lot of inventory and customize it for local clientele.
Many retail leaders work very closely with corporate partners in inventory planning, buying, allocation/replenishment, and supply chain to evaluate their merchandise mix, optimize it for their local market, and make sure it arrives when it should. The logistics can be complicated, but they understand the importance of having the right product at the right time.
6. They oversee multiple delivery channels.
The last several years have brought tremendous change to the retail industry. Retail now isn't just about picking an item off a shelf and taking it to the cashier. It's about ordering online & picking up in store, ordering in store, returning online orders in store, curbside pickup, and so on. Retail is all about meeting consumer needs that are changing rapidly.
7. Retail managers are financial managers.
Retail is typically a for-profit business, which means retail leaders are well-versed in the finance side of the business. They manage sales and reduce inventory shrink, yes, but it's much more than that. They maximize profit margins and they control budgets for payroll, supplies, marketing, promotions, events, team building, recognition, and more.
8. They have extensive knowledge of regulatory compliance.
Because they run the business as if it was their own, retail leaders have a solid understanding of local laws and regulations that they must comply with. This can include employment/HR/union/labor regulations, loss prevention & theft prevention regulations, specific inventory regulations, environmental regulations, and much more.
9. They know their communities and work to support them.
Most retail leaders not only drive the business in-store, they also get out to serve the community. They establish and build partnerships with local non-profit organizations and raise money for worthy causes. They plan and host charitable events. They actively volunteer and assemble teams of volunteers from their districts. They contribute. A lot.
10. They manage complex projects and are adaptable to change.
Few other industries have evolved as much as retail has in the last several years. Retail leaders have opened new stores, closed stores, relocated stores, remodeled stores, launched new concepts, introduced new products, and rolled out new programs, processes, and systems. And all that doesn't even include COVID. Nothing stays the same for long in retail.
Employers, consider a retail manager as your next hire. Seriously, you won't regret it.