How to Become a Successful Retail Operations Manager: A Guide to Running Multiple Stores

By Jasmine Glasheen

Retail operations managers have one of the most dynamic jobs in the retail industry. But, contrary to popular belief, retail ops managers have a very different gig than store managers. The main difference being that retail operations managers oversee multiple stores and travel from location to location, while store managers are only responsible for one physical store. Their day-to-day responsibilities are also a little different, which we will go into in a minute. 

It takes a specific skillset to become a retail operations manager. There’s no formal education that can prepare you for the role. In fact, many working in retail operations management today have only a high school diploma. Studying up on the requirements of the position, however, can help you excel in the role. Let’s take a look at the skills you need to be an excellent retail ops manager and review some strategies to help you succeed. 

What is a retail operations manager?

The job description of a retail operations manager can vary quite a bit depending on the company. You need to be a jack (or jill) of all trades. However, people-oriented tasks such as staffing and scheduling, implementing training initiatives, and facilitating communication between staff and corporate branches are the primary responsibilities of most positions. Your job as a retail operations manager will require a knack for communication, but soft skills aren’t the only competency you’ll need to rock the role. 

Most companies require retail operations managers to ensure stores meet sales goals and stick to their budget, so you’ll also need a head for numbers––or the ability to work magic with some paper and a calculator. You might also be tasked with ensuring stores meet visual merchandising protocols. This includes tasks such as: double-checking store layout, confirming that planograms are executed correctly, overseeing window display set-up, etc. 

What is the average retail operations manager salary?

The average salary of a retail operations manager is $36,590 a year, according to Glassdoor. However, salaries on the site range from $27k to nearly $180k for the role. Your individual pay will be largely dependent on the size of the company, scale of your responsibilities, and experience you have in the industry. 

How to become a successful retail operations manager

Now, let’s talk tactics and strategy. Below are some pointers you can implement to be a successful retail ops manager.

1. Offer direction and feedback

Overseeing employees is one of the most important aspects of the role of retail operations manager. You’ll need to be quite the taskmaster. But how do you motivate employees who are less than willing to take action? According to HBR, finding out what an employee cares about and attributing it to the task at hand is an important way to get them to work towards goals. Explain why a task is important to the success of the team.

It’s also important to create manageable goals and give employees the resources they need to achieve them––whether its time, proper training, a gift with purchase, or testers to use on customers. 

2. Give your staff a way to get in touch

Successful leaders are good listeners. Your ground floor employees are out there interacting with customers on a daily basis. So, don’t limit your conversations to store managers only. The truth is that as a retail operations manager, you simply can’t be at every location all of the time. But if your frontline employees feel comfortable reaching out to you about issues as they arise, you can manage as if you were. 

Adopt a startup mentality by stressing the importance of every single person at your company. Share your email address with employees at all levels. Stop and talk to your sales staff. Ask them if there’s anything you can do to help them succeed. Amazing things happen in retail when the lines of communication are open.

3. Automate your scheduling processes

Retail operations managers oversee employee scheduling at multiple locations. This can get a bit complicated when 29% of retail employees are part-time. You’ll be coordinating with employees’ school schedules, kid pick-up and drop-off, other gigs, and more. Doing this manually can be time-consuming and it’s all too easy to forget employee’s outside obligation––which is why you may opt to use a low-cost tech solution that can do the grunt work for you. 

An app/scheduling software can simplify the process of employee scheduling by showing you which employees are available to work specific shifts. Doing it online also makes it easier to fill a shift that’s suddenly open, such as when an employee has a family emergency, or someone calls in sick. But be sure to do your research on different platforms before you lock down a solution, so you don’t wind up paying for features you don’t need. 

Vend Tip


Using Vend? Our software integrates with a number of staffing and scheduling software to help you track and manage shifts with ease.

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4. Be willing to get your hands dirty

Top-down management styles are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Employees learn best when they see management demonstrating how to complete a task correctly. Why just delegate, when both your store managers and your retail employees can benefit from seeing you in action?

Whether the task is interacting with customers, creating a budget, setting up a window display, or communicating with a disgruntled member of your sales staff, your success as a retail operations manager is largely dependent on your willingness to roll up your sleeves and show ‘em how it’s done.

5. Stay on top of multi-store inventory

Inventory management factors into everything in retail. Your ability to maintain customer satisfaction, manage a budget, and meet sales goals are all dependent on how you manage your inventory. Dead stock is the enemy, so your employees need to be able to quickly locate inventory items when customers come into your stores. 

The best way to manage all that is to arm yourself with a cloud-based inventory management platform with remote capabilities, so you can track inventory levels in every store under your purview… even when you’re on the road. 

Retail operations managers are expected to do it all. A strong stock management solution gives you the tools you need to do it all triumphantly––you can remotely edit products in bulk, set stock levels on specific items to automatic reorder, and even review whether certain stores are meeting their daily sales goals. It’s easy to use, so you can spend less time training staff on how to utilize the platform, and more time doing hands-on work to make your stores a success. 

6. Always rely on data and analytics

As a retail operations manager, you’re responsible for the success of the stores in your district. As such, it’s important to keep a close eye on a handful of metrics and data for each store, including and sales performance and stock movement. 

Having a solid handle on how sales are tracking and how products are performing will lead to better decisions and can help inform your retail strategy. 

To that end, make sure you have a retail analytics solution that easily surfaces all the info you need. The best system soffer an at-a-glance view of your stores performance while at the same time giving you the ability to drill down on specific data points. 

7. Make the condition of your stores a KPI

Cleanliness is the key to effective visual merchandising. Think about it: it doesn’t matter how high-tech a retailer’s display is… if there’s dust on the products, customers will walk right by without engaging. This is one of the most overlooked components of executing a visual merchandising strategy at the stores you oversee. 

As a retail operations manager who oversees multiple stores, you can’t be at each store every day to ensure that your sales floor is in tip-top condition. Soliciting customer feedback, however,  is a great way to confirm they’re having a positive experience at your stores. Create a store cleaning checklist for employees with daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning tasks. Then add a survey to your website, social media accounts, and/or sales receipts. Use the survey to invite customers to rate the cleanliness of your sales floor, fitting room, checkout counter, etc. And then follow up on results with your store managers.

Bottom line

Finding success as a retail operations manager requires staying on top of people and processes for multiple stores. To keep all your stores in check, make sure you hire competent store managers you can trust and establish solid and repeatable processes that streamlines store operations. 

And be sure to get yourself a robust multi-store retail platform so you can monitor and manage all your stores with ease. 

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+.