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Retail management tips to help your business grow

eCommerce is thriving right now - but the retail boom is extending to the high street, too. Brick-and-mortar stores are going through an exciting renaissance with prime locations in cities such as Glasgow, Manchester, and Birmingham attracting crowds of shoppers every single day.

One thing that isn’t changing is how challenging retail management can be. As with any business, proper management is crucial. Shortcomings in management and leadership can have an impact on your employees and also on your business by negatively affecting profits.

Retail management is key to growing your business. In this article, we’re going to take a look at some retail management tips that will help you achieve your business goals…

If you're a retailer interested in growing your business, have a look at the great features and products offered by SumUp.


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How your store’s peak times play a big role in planning

Knowing your store’s peak times is one thing, but using those times to your advantage is another.

Increase staff numbers during peak hours so that there’s always somebody available to answer any queries and help reduce queuing time. Admin, cleaning, and restocking the shelves should be completely off-limits during peak times. Make it all about the customers.

Keeping up to date with local events that will see a flood of people land in your town or city will also better prepare you for extra footfall.

But, how can you uncover your ‘official’ peak time? Well, you can use a footfall counter (these are pretty easy to find online), or most till register systems have the ability to produce hourly sales reports.

On top of that, SumUp launched the first truly open mPOS system allowing companies to have an end to end programme on their mobiles. These could be used at peak times alongside your normal systems to streamline customer waiting time even further.

It also helps to review your actual sales reports year on year. This will give you a clear understanding of what your busiest times have been historically.

Organise your store

Taking into account the layout of your store is essential. Small changes, like putting popular items at eye level or placing impulse purchases by your sales point, can have a positive impact on sales.

Taking time to organise your till points, back offices and stock rooms will enable you to offer a faster and better service to your customers. You’ll want your customers to see as many products as possible during their visit, while still creating a comfortable shopping experience. The last thing you want is for people to leave without making a purchase.

Here are some tips for organisation:

  • Design a welcoming threshold. The first hurdle is actually getting customers to enter, so make your threshold enticing with products that evoke the senses, such as products that smell or look the most appealing.

  • Make the most of right turns. Right-handed people make up 70-90% of the world’s population. This suggests most people entering your store will be reaching for products with their right hand, and a study by Shopworks even suggest that right-handed people will be drawn to the right side of space. When thinking about a customer’s journey focus on the right turns you would expect them to make and organise accordingly.

  • Strategically place your products. Just as putting sensory products at the front can draw people in, placing other products strategically can help increase sales. Place low-cost “impulse” purchases near the checkouts, products that appeal to children at their eye-level, and group products that are often bought together in the same section.

  • Design a buying path. Leading your customers where you want to go could help you improve sales. Think about their journey from the entrance to the exit (carefully considering right turns, of course). Also, organise everything in a way that allows people to comfortably ‘loop back’ to previous aisles if they want to. You can use fixtures and merchandise to help you create this buying path.

  • Encourage shoppers to slow down. If your shoppers linger and browse, then they may be more likely to make a purchase, or add even more to their cart. Encourage shoppers to take it easy with relaxing music, try before you buy stations, and anything else that will stop them in their tracks and turn their shopping trip into a shopping experience.

  • Create the right atmosphere. The products you sell and the type of customers you attract are key factors in creating the ‘right’ atmosphere. Think about everything from the music, to the way your employees greet customers.

  • Allocate the ideal space for payments. Nobody enjoys queueing, and with the advent of online shopping, people are less and less tolerable of it. Make payments quick and easy for your customers by allocating the ideal space to take payments, or by equipping your floor staff with card readers. 

Customer experience plays a huge part in how you choose to organise your store. The way a customer feels and what they expect from their in-store experience is paramount to customer satisfaction. According to a survey by Clicktale of UK and US shoppers, 83% of customers say they feel frustrated with hard to navigate store layouts.

Effectively delegate tasks

It can be difficult to find the right balance when it comes to delegating tasks to your employees. If you keep all of the important tasks to yourself, because perhaps you feel that you are the best person for the job, then you could quickly become overwhelmed. On the other hand, you don’t want to delegate too much as it’s important to be seen doing your fair share of tasks. There’s a balance you must strike between these two extremes.

Delegation can be one of the most powerful training tools for your employees and can lead to increased development. You can shape the best staff members for your business by agreeing on the outcome of a task with your employee and make the timeframe for the task clear.

It sounds obvious, but making a ‘to do’ list at the beginning of your day is a great place to start. This way you’ll know what needs to be accomplished and you can begin to assign the most suitable employee to each task.

Interestingly, according to Inc.com, 53% of business owners feel they can grow their business more if they delegate tasks to their staff members.

Get your employees involved...and keep them happy

Your employees are your most valuable asset. And they spend a lot of time on the shop floor interacting with customers, so they’ll have important insights from the front line.

Ask them for their opinions and feedback, as it’s likely you’ll get observations from them which will help you in making decisions about your business. Including your employees will also show that you value them, and make them feel like an important part of the business.

A survey by ORC International found that a little over half (58%) of UK employees feel engaged at work, and including them in decision-making could further improve this.

If your employees are happy, it can also have a positive effect on your customers. Happy workers will be more likely to build strong relationships with customers and provide better customer service. Positive engagement is how businesses create positive retail customer experiences, so make a point of encouraging this.

Employee satisfaction and happiness can be encouraged in a variety of ways:

  • Recognise progress. If employees are doing well, be sure to tell them.

  • Trust them. If an employee is showing you they are trustworthy, trust them with more important tasks. Start them on the road to promotion and watch them thrive.

  • Prioritise a good work/life balance. It’s important to still be ‘human’, not just a manager. Encourage them to leave work at work, and don’t expect them to burden their hometime with daily tasks or worries.

  • Encourage breaks. Know how many breaks you should be giving your employee vs the hours they are working and encourage them to always take their breaks. A rested, refreshed employee will perform much better for you.

  • Understand them. This goes alongside ‘being human.’ Knowing your employees and their strengths and weaknesses will go a long way.

  • Offer perks. It doesn’t have to be anything huge, it could be a simple bottle of wine to the person who managed to upsell the most that week. A little will go a long way in terms of recognition.

  • Say thank you. On top of everything, a simple ‘thanks’ or ‘great job’ will show your employees you’re noticing their hard work.

It’s important to keep an eye on how your employees are acting and look for new ways to keep them happy and engaged. Some ways to evaluate employee satisfaction are:

  • Have a suggestion box. A suggestion box takes the pressure off employees to approach management themselves. Place one in a communal area and make a point to check it regularly.

  • Regular performance reviews. Make one to one time with your employees a priority, it gives them a chance to air any grievances.

  • Anonymous surveys. Annual surveys to gauge how your employees are feeling are useful. They’ll help you find out any issues that are happening across the board. 

Equip your employees correctly

Your employees are guided by you. So it’s down to you to make sure they have everything they need to do their job. If they don’t then it’s possible your workforce will become frustrated when they can’t deliver what you’re expecting.

If you want your employees to offer the best customer service possible, make sure they have the appropriate equipment to do so. SumUp card readers allow your employees to create a streamlined buying process that makes taking payments effortless.

It can be as simple as providing tech (like an mPOS reader) to cut customer queues. But it also simmers down to providing the appropriate training required for each role. In a recent survey, nearly a third of retail employees said they hadn’t received any formal training whatsoever and don’t feel equipped to carry out their role.

To avoid employees becoming disgruntled and unmotivated, make sure you have specific training points for each different role in your store, and carry them out at different stages in your employees’ careers:

  • Introductory training- when they’re first hired

  • More in-depth training- when they pass their probation

  • Refresher training- every year of employment

To sum up...

Retail management is hard work, but the benefits are worth it. Be brave and make some changes based on the advice in this article and hopefully you’ll begin to see a difference.


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Ashleigh Grady