Before building your career in retail, there are a few things you need to know that I’d like to share with you based on my experience in the market. These are; what is happening in the industry and how this is impacting on the role of a retailer.
Let me start by stating that whilst Retail is a Multi-Billion-dollar industry, it’s not as big as you may think! Yes, the International Juggernauts may have entered our shores in recent years such as Zara, H&M and TopshopTopMan but there are still some major Australian contenders doing well too, such as the Retail Apparel Group and The Just Group. On the flip side, some retailers have struggled and have sadly gone into receivership. Some have strategically created joint ventures just to survive whilst others have diversified their sales channels to sell their products, but that’s another topic I’ll discuss later.
The influx of aggressive international businesses has really shaken things up in the Retail industry and dare I say, increased the economy just that ‘little bit’. Some have even reported takings of over $200 million THIS YEAR, whilst others have reported a 300% increase in sales! Boom! It’s no wonder other international retailers are lining up to open their doors in Australia!
In addition to new market entrants, the manner in which retail sales are taking place has changed, taking away from the face to face experience of old whilst increasing reach, sales and profitability for retailers. E-Commerce… the next big thing? Social Media! Or some would call it, S-Commerce. People are loving buying and selling products on Social Media. Did you know over 60% of Australians have a Facebook account, so it’s no wonder retailers are flocking to Social Media pages to grab a quick sale and are investing heavily on eCommerce solutions. This makes things a little harder for the good old Store Manager.
Let’s look at the role of a Store Manager. With many new retail businesses opening, many would think it’s going to be easy to land a job in retail right? From my experience the simple answer to that, is no! I find many Sales Managers want to transition into retail. However, being in Retail is a little different to being in ‘Pure Sales’. The titles may be the same and the job description may sound similar, but trust me, it’s different. In retail you are managing what is happening between your four walls. Some may say that they can do it with their ‘eyes closed’ whilst others find it very ‘challenging’. A Store Managers “main duties” are to manage their staff, ensure budgets and KPI’s are met, make sure Visual Merchandising is up to standard, approach every customer that walks into their store, sell, up-sell and cross sell. To top it off, there is reporting, admin, conferences to attend and head-office to answer to when asked ‘why are you not on budget?’ What you don’t see behind the scenes is that a Store Manager is also a Marketing Manager, a Visual Merchandising Manager, a Counselor (to both staff and customers), a housekeeper, an Inventory Manager, an investigator, a peacekeeper and a miracle worker.
Finally, when a Store Manager applies for another Store Management position they have to consider many of the following: “Have I managed 100 staff members?” “Have I unpacked 100 pallets of stock a day?” “Am I able to achieve the $1 million a week budget?” “Can I do staff appraisals and still be customer focused at the same time?” All of this and they might only be paid $45,000 a year!
Whilst a role in Retail looks glamorous, it’s often hard work and not very well paid, however in my view it attracts the best most motivated and interestingly capable people. So, if like me you love retail, be open to change, recognise it’s a tough job and pat yourself on the back if you are currently doing it.
Written by Sammi Nguyen