Retail Store Operations: A Guide to Running Multiple Locations
Do you have a solid retail store operations strategy? According to McKinsey’s Future of Retail Operations report, “Brick-and-mortar retail stores need to up their game. Technology could give them a significant boost.”
In this post, I’m going to review different types of retail store operations and guide you through how to create a successful retail store operations strategy.
Let’s start with the basics ...
What are the types of retail store operations?
The most common types of retail store operations cover the day-to-day functions and responsibilities throughout your store.
Depending on the size of your stores or franchise, you may have some of these, all of these, or additional types not listed.
Visual merchandising (design and atmosphere)
Visual merchandising covers the aesthetic aspects of each of your stores. The designers in this part of your team get the chance to make great first impressions on new customers entering your stores.
The visual design and atmosphere encompass everything that your store has control over, inside and outside. These operations include:
- Individual store layouts
- Store departments and product organization
- Signage and displays
- Product merchandising
- Music playing over the in-store speakers
- Control of lighting throughout the store
Customer service operations oversee interactions with shoppers in your store, and customer service is a part of many roles – it’s not just relevant for those who sell the merchandise.
Large retail stores may have greeters, sales representatives in each department, cashiers, dedicated customer service reps for returns and exchanges, and janitorial staff to keep everything clean inside and out.
To keep customers coming back again and again, retailers must provide excellent customer service and an overall positive customer experience.
It’s worth investing in the best sales training for every employee who works at your stores since customer service is essentially a part of everyone’s job.
Your employees’ performance will directly affect your bottom line and your store’s reputation, since customers can leave public reviews on Google, Facebook, and other local networks.
Cash handling operations are responsible for the incoming payments from customers. A mix of cashiers, supervisors, and managers is part of your store’s cash handling operations to limit returns and fraud.
In most cases, cashiers handle the incoming cash from sales, while supervisors handle customer refunds and exchanges.
Managers or shift leads handle cash register setup, safe deposits, balancing the register at the end of the day, and making sure bank deposits are accurate.
Store safety operations ensure that your retail store is safe for customers and employees alike. Employees responsible for store safety will regularly inspect store inventory, merchandising setups, and displays to make any changes necessary to prevent injuries.
This area of retail operations faced unprecedented challenges in 2020, when safety went from a focus on accidents to a focus on the health of both employees and customers, with additional cleaning and safety measures.
Loss prevention is an important part of retail operations because it erodes profits. The National Retail Federation released staggering data on retail shrink — losses due to employee theft and shoplifting.
Between 2018 and 2019, retail shrink ballooned from $50.6 to $61.7 billion dollars. Forty-nine percent of retail businesses surveyed said the largest increase in fraudulent activity has been in-store.
Loss-prevention employees do more than monitor suspicious movements made by shoppers. They have to investigate internal theft and implement strategies to prevent as much loss as possible.
This includes everything from evaluating store merchandising for security camera blind spots to profiling employees.
Product inventory operations manage the merchandise coming into the store. Warehouse receivers will accept shipments from vendors, scan the items into inventory, and prepare it to go out onto the retail floor.
For retailers who also sell products online, this portion of operations will package outgoing shipments to customers. If your business offers curbside pickup, your customer service operations will complete the transaction by taking the customer’s purchase to their car and following up.
Large retail operations administration handles the behind-the-scenes office work at a retail store. They will be in regular contact with the owner or home office to coordinate marketing and sales efforts across multiple locations.
The buying office and marketing department are usually part of this team as well.
People in retail administration sometimes provide basic human resources services for your retail employees. They also process payroll details to your home office or payroll service.
Store managers and assistant managers handle the day-to-day tasks that keep the store running efficiently. They handle serious customer service issues and are responsible for hiring and training new employees.
They also handle reconciling the cash registers at the end of the day and any bank deposits that need to be made the following day.
How to manage a retail store successfully
Now that you know about the different types of retail operations, let’s look at the ways you can improve your store’s retail operations.
You could think of these categories as a retail store operations checklist, to make sure you have all of the key elements to succeed in place.
Create unified standard operating procedures
Do you have stores where operating procedures are taught by word-of-mouth from the most senior member of a specific team or department? That can lead to every employee doing the job differently.
Creating unified standardized procedures for all areas of your retail operations will make it easier to train new employees across an entire chain of stores in a consistent manner that matches your brand.
Unified standard operating procedures should improve efficiency across the store, from administration to store safety. Employees should be able to transfer from one of your stores to another without feeling like they have to be trained all over again to do the same job.
Pick your staff carefully
Take the time during the hiring process to bring the right people on board. Review each resume carefully. Know what questions you want to ask and what the ideal candidate would give as their answers.
You can also go beyond the traditional process of multiple interviews and have employees complete various assessments to test their knowledge, skills, integrity, and safety awareness.
Some inventories from services such as Gallup allow you to learn more about the strengths of your employees and management teams.
Ongoing training can also be vital in revitalizing retail stores impacted by the pandemic. Sharpening your employees’ sales skills will help your stores generate revenue at pre-pandemic levels again.
Any organization's lack of clear communication can create confusion, frustration, and potential chaos.
Administration and management should work together to ensure transparent, timely, and accurate messaging moves from the home office to everyone who needs to know. This frequently is done through mobile texting and even WeChat.
Although it may sound cliché, management should always be on the same page. Employees should never be confused because they received conflicting instructions from supervisors and management.
Always ask someone who does not know a new procedure to read anything you send out for clarity.
Digitize repetitive internal tasks
Most manual office processes, from bookkeeping to payroll, can be handled digitally or outsourced to reputable services.
By freeing up your employees from repetitive internal tasks and endless paperwork, those employees have more time to serve your customers on the sales floor better.
One example is digitizing the hiring process. While it’s still normal to see in-person hiring signs, your best bet is to invest in job networks like Indeed and LinkedIn that will allow applicants to send in their resumes online.
Applications, resumes, and cover letters are now instantly accessible to your store’s management team. But you’ll need a process to weed through them, as they can fill up your inbox by the hundreds.
Automate main business processes
Business automation software exists for most business functions.
You can find software to automate your social media, add email subscribers to a list and CRM, send out repeat invoices for standing orders, and have shipping labels and packing lists printed for online orders shipped from your store.
What is the best way to discover new platforms and ways to maximize your time? Ask for your employees’ input. Encourage associates to improve internal processes or customer service tactics. Reward those whose initiative results in major improvements.
Have global cloud storage for all locations
Nothing creates better brand consistency throughout your store than sharing resources for marketing and advertising. Even if you only have one store in every state, you still want travelers to get a similar experience in whichever store they visit. All the way down to the signage and local newsletters.
In addition to marketing and advertising materials, cloud storage means never having to wait for someone from the home office to email you a form or document you needed five minutes ago.
- Unified standard operating procedures ensure efficient operations throughout your stores. You can clone the same formula elsewhere as you learn what works best in one location.
- Hiring the right people makes a difference. Get their feedback and help them improve with ongoing training.
- Automate and digitize as much as possible. You don’t want a customer waiting in line longer than they should have to because management is tied up with mundane tasks or waiting for an answer.
Running multiple retail locations smoothly and effectively doesn’t happen by accident.
If you don’t have a system that trains your team members to run your store operations like a well-oiled machine, you’ll run into unnecessary complications that negatively impact your profits.
The right retail sales training gives your team a proven structure to follow, creating a comfortable and relaxed buying environment for your shoppers.
Ready to take the next step to refine your retail operations?
- Clear on why you need training
- Looking to get everyone on the same page
- Willing to do the work to get it right
… then discover everything SalesRX can do to help you meet your goals.
The training program has helped thousands of retailers just like you, and now it’s a practical solution that will allow you to:
- Be fully prepared to lead your marketplace in the new retail surge
- Restore your sales volume to pre-COVID-19 numbers
- Achieve the same level of pre-pandemic cash flow without doing anything extreme
- Completely recoup your lost sales from 2020
- Start seeing double-digit sales increases every month
- Improve your customer service, generate more sales, and set a clear, compelling vision for the future that your team will love
- Have the best-trained retail team in your industry
The World Retail Forum also recognized SalesRX for its innovative retail sales training.
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