What Skills Make a Good Retail Manager?

See also: Careers in Retail

A retail manager has a critical role to play in any store, as they are responsible for the day-to-day running, ensuring costs are kept low and profits are maximised.

As a retail manager, you are going to be in charge of a store’s daily operations, with all employees reporting to you. You will then typically report to an area manager.

You need to make sure that customer standards are met at all times, while also ensuring staff meet their targets and promotions are run effectively.

With that being said, in this guide we are going to take a look at the skills that are required in order to be a good retail manager.

What responsibilities does a retail manager have?

Before we take a look at the different skills that are required to be one of the best retail managers, it is important to understand the role a retail manager has.

Retail managers are responsible for many different tasks, so some of the responsibilities are as follows:

  1. Manage a team of employees and motivate them to boost sales and ensure efficiency
  2. Deal with other elements of the business, including marketing, logistics, information technology, human resources, finance, and customer service
  3. Promote the business in the local area by liaising with the community, including local newspapers
  4. Improve the business by initiating changes, for example, revising opening hours to make sure the store can effectively compete in the local market
  5. Maintain awareness of market trends in the retail sector, as well as monitoring what your competition is doing and understanding forthcoming customer initiatives
  6. Deal with sales, as and when needed
  7. Regularly tour the sales floor, speaking with both customers and colleagues and determining any areas whereby urgent issues need to be solved
  8. Attend and chair meetings
  9. Organise events, displays, and special promotions
  10. Respond to customer comments and complaints
  11. Resolve security, legal, and health and safety problems
  12. Ensure standards for health and safety, customer service, and quality are met
  13. Organise or provide training and development
  14. Deal with staffing issues, including performance reviews, conducting appraisals, and interviewing potential staff
  15. Use information technology to forward plan, assess data, and record sales figures
  16. Assess and interpret trends to facilitate planning
  17. Assess sales figures and forecast sales in the future
  18. Manage levels of stock and make key decisions regarding stock control

As you can see, retail managers have a lot of responsibility within any business, and so it is imperative to find the right person for the job when it comes to a role like this!

What skills make a good retail manager?

There are a number of different skills that the best retail managers have, and this includes the following:

Effective leadership

There is only one place to begin when it comes to retail managers, and this is with leadership qualities. A good sales manager is someone who knows how to motivate others. After all, employees will be reporting to you, and you need to make sure that they stay on track when it comes to their targets.

A good delegator

Not only do retail managers need to be effective in terms of leadership, but they also need to be good at delegating as well. They need to be able to plan and prioritise workloads in a successful manner. With a team underneath you, you need to be sure to use everyone’s skills in the most effective manner. As a manager, it can often be hard to delegate effectively, as it can be tempting to try and do everything yourself because you know you will do a good job. However, this is where trust in your team comes in. Plus, you need to spend some time getting to know your team and observing the way they work so that you can understand their strengths and weaknesses. This will put you in the best possible position to delegate effectively.

Customer focus

Aside from the skills that we have mentioned so far, a good retail manager is someone who is very much focused on customers and what they need. You must make sure that customer care standards are being upheld. Today, it is easier than ever before for customers to leave negative comments and reviews online, so you need to make sure that customers are kept happy so that the business’ reputation does not suffer.

The ability to work as part of a team

Although you will be leading a number of employees, you will also need to report to the area manager yourself. There are then a lot of other professionals that you could liaise with on a daily basis, including marketing professionals that are working on promotions for the business. Because of this, it is critical to make sure that you are someone who has the ability to work effectively as a team to generate innovative and fresh ideas.

Commercial awareness

A good retail manager is also someone who has well-developed commercial awareness and shrewd business sense. This is something that tends to come with experience. However, some people learn quicker than others, so do not rule out a young retail manager when it comes to their commercial know-how.

Organisational skills

Organisational skills are also key. A good retail manager is able to look for areas in which the procedures or rules of the business can be improved. A good leader demonstrates their organisational skills in many different areas across the business. This includes the likes of hiring the best associates and training them effectively, as well as cost-cutting and streamlining business procedures.


Flexibility is another core attribute that retail managers need to have today. This is something that we have seen now more than ever as a consequence of the pandemic. We are increasingly shifting to an online world, and so the best retail managers are happy to embrace trends such as online style guidance and livestream shopping. The industry is changing all of the time, and the best managers embrace this and thrive on the challenge.

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Another quality you need to have is a good decision-maker. An effective manager is able to effectively assess and decide on things that are critical to the success of the store. Retail often means that quick action needs to be taken, but making the correct decision in a fast manner without there being any mistakes means assessing information to weed through what is important and what isn’t important. You do not want a manager who has to look at a situation countless times and still cannot make a decision. You must be decisive and effective.

Work well under pressure

To be a top retail manager, you need to be able to handle pressure. There are going to be targets that you and your team need to reach, and you will have a big responsibility in ensuring your team meets these targets. You also need to be able to multi-task effectively, as it is likely you are going to have a number of different tasks at once.

The capacity to quickly grasp fresh concepts

In addition to the skills that we have looked at so far, it is also important that you are someone who knows how to grasp new concepts in a quick and effective manner. Retail stores are always looking to move forward and try new things so that they can stand out from the competition. You must be able to facilitate innovation and learn quickly, rather than holding the store back.

How can you attract the best retail manager to your store?

Now that you have a good understanding of the sort of skills that are required to be an effective retail manager, you will want to make sure that you are hiring and attracting the very best talent.

The first thing you need to do is make sure your job descriptions are detailed yet clear. You need to be honest and accurate about the qualities you are looking for in a retail manager, as described above, as well as any qualifications you require. One of the biggest issues today is that job descriptions can be too vague, resulting in lots of people applying who are not suitable for the job.

Aside from this, you need to set your company apart by offering things that will make you stand out from the competition. A good example is launching a employee volunteering program. A top employee volunteering program makes sense because it engages employees while also ensuring you give back to the community.

You should also consider what perks you will offer as part of your employee benefits program. From childcare vouchers to free gym memberships, there are plenty of different ways you can make your vacancy more appealing. However, you need to consider what is going to appeal to your workforce and the candidates you are looking to attract.

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Final words on what makes a good retail manager

So, there you have it: an insight into some of the different traits and skills that are required in order to make it as a top retail manager, as well as some advice on how employers can attract the best retail managers to their stores.

There is no denying that retail managers have a critical role in any store, and so it is vital that you hire with care.