9 Retail Manager Skills You Must Develop to Thrive in Today’s Modern Landscape

Retailers today have their work cut out for them. While it’s true that we’re starting to put the pandemic behind us, there are still several challenges—including supply chain issues and labor shortages—that need to be reckoned with. 

Navigating these challenges requires skilled retail pros who are adept at overseeing people and store operations. 

It’s more important than ever to bring in highly competent individuals who can manage your stores and ensure they thrive.

To that end, we’ve put together a list of fundamental retail manager skills that are proving to be valuable in today’s landscape. Whether you’re someone who’s hiring retail staff or you’re a retail manager looking to level up your game, the following list will shed light on the skills needed to successfully manage a retail store

Leadership skills

There are plenty of factors that come into play when it comes to retail leadership. As a leader, it’s essential to be emphatic towards your team. You must have the ability to meet people where they’re at, so you can figure out the best way to help them get to where they need to go. 

For instance, if you have associates who need to level up their sales skills, then being attuned to what drives each individual (note: it’s not the same for everyone) will enable you to determine how to best motivate them. 

It’s also important to remember that a leader always sets an example for the team. Mastering the fundamentals of retail sales and customer service is a must. If you’re trying to get your team to sell more and serve shoppers better, you need to lead the way and demonstrate the traits that you want to see in your employees.


Retail managers must stay on top of multiple moving parts. Having ample knowledge in each of  the business’ critical areas is a must. To be an effective retail manager, see to it that you’re caught up with the inner workings of the store, particularly when it comes to:

Operations. What are the store’s main processes? How do they work? Are those procedures documented? These are just some of the questions you need to address in order to manage business operations efficiently.

People. Get to know each team member and their role. You need to be informed of what each position does as well as the KPIs required to succeed.

Customers. Retail managers also need to face the store’s customers, so ensure that you have a solid handle on your various customer personas. It also helps to be familiar with the store’s regular patrons, so you can cultivate relationships with them to encourage customer loyalty and referrals. 

Inventory. Physical goods are the bread and butter of most retail stores. That’s why it’s essential to have a strong handle on your stock. Know your top sellers, popular categories, and areas of improvement to keep the store stocked with the right products. 

You should also get to know your suppliers and maintain strong vendor relationships. Doing so can help you get better deals and ensure you have access to the right merchandise when needed.


As a retail manager, you often need to talk to your team, your customers, and your suppliers. To ensure these interactions go smoothly, you must be adept at absorbing and relaying information. 

Doing this starts with being a good listener. Practice actively listening and make it a point to really and understand what the other person is saying. The key is to make the other party feel heard.  From there, determine the best way to convey your message and ensure all parties are on the same page. 

Customer service

Great customer service can look different from one situation to another. In some cases, serving customers could mean helping them find the right products. In other instances, it’s all about rectifying an error or poor experience. 

Whatever the case, being of service to retail shoppers often comes down to helping them feel seen and ensuring their needs are being met—within reason, of course. 

So if you want to serve shoppers better, start by discerning their needs and do your best to meet them. 

And if you need examples of great customer service, we’ve got you covered!

Team empowerment

Working in retail is no walk in the park. Some customers can be rude. Sales slumps occur from time to time. These issues can lead to low team morale. As a retail manager, you must be skilled at empowering and motivating your team, both in good times and bad.

The right motivational strategy depends, of course, on the situation. For some teams, having a friendly competition could help them get out of the sales slump. For others, a pep talk on how to deal with unpleasant customers will do the trick.

Navigate these things on a case by case basis and use your judgment on the best course of action. 


Retail stores have to meet certain targets and KPIs to be successful. Whether it’s reaching a certain level or sales or growing the shop’s customer base, retail managers must be able to determine what goals to focus on.

Depending on the retail company, you’ll need to work with the owner, district manager, or corporate office to figure out the store’s top objectives. From there, you shoud communicate with the store’s team to convey those goals and determine how to achieve them. 


How do you know if you’re meeting the goals you’ve set forth above? By using data. As a retail store manager, you need to know how to generate the right reports and insights. This is the best way to track and measure your performance. 

Once you have the data  you need, use it to make decisions and track your progress accordingly. 


As a retail store manager, plenty of decisions will fall onto your shoulders. Who’s the right person to fill a new sales role? Which items should be front and center in your window display? How should your team deal with a tricky customer situation?

These are just some of the questions that may land onto your plate. And like with most things, the “right” answer will depend on the specific circumstances. You’ll need to be decisive and do your best with the information you have. 

Making important decisions can be daunting, especially when you’re in a fast-paced environment. These things will get easier with experience, so strive to learn from every situation and use that wisdom in future decisions. 


To stay competitive, retailers must keep up with modern shoppers. To accomplish this, you need technology. With customers shopping on multiple channels (in-store, ecommerce, mobile, social media) it may behoove you to have a strategy for various sales platforms. 

Adopting retail management software and stock control solutions can also help your store run more efficiently. 

To that end, retail managers must be adept at using technology. Ensure you know which solutions to test or adopt, and put them to action in your store. 

Ready to develop these retail manager skills?

Retailers are facing some new hurdles, and these challenges present tremendous opportunities for skilled and ambitious individuals who want to move up in the industry. If that sounds like you, make sure you develop the retail manager skills above and demonstrate them in your day-to-day work. 

About Francesca Nicasio

Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.