Retail Store Management 101

The Foundations of Successful Store Management

My first “real” job was in a retail store. I ran the register, stocked and cleaned shelves, picked up cigarettes outside—anything it took to maintain a clean store and to serve our customers.

I quickly rose through the ranks; running the same store at the age of 17 over summer break. I even had to ensure someone over 18 was on staff to sell alcohol, because, although I was the manager, I was too young to legally sell it.

As I’ve progressed through my retail career, I’ve realized that the tasks I performed in that first real job, and my eventual manager role, are some of the most important tasks in the retail environment. Although rote by appearance, these tasks are often referred to as “Retail 101” because of their foundational importance to a store’s success. They’re the basics of store management that every manager must focus on.

  • Stocked shelves
  • Clean floors
  • Clean restrooms
  • Replace broken fixtures and light bulbs
  • Warm greetings
  • Fast checkout


Each of these makes a crucial contribution to the overall customer experience. Remove any one of them and watch conversion numbers diminish. Yet when they’re all well executed they can go unnoticed.

I’ve worked with countless field leaders and we can all agree you know a well-run store when you walk into it. “You almost feel it,” as one SVP of Operations told me. The parts of retail management 101 blend together seamlessly to create the customer experience as a whole.

When Store Management Isn’t at Fault

With recent struggles in retail, the finger is often pointed at store management. Sometimes Retail 101 is not the problem. In recent years we’ve seen how economic and societal situations can impact retail. Oftentimes, however, issues go straight to the top, well above the operations team. The retail space ends up feeling the trickle-down impact of decisions made higher up, and they’re pressured with cost controls as a result:

  • Marketing spend to acquire new customers is going up
  • Margins are thinning
  • Minimum wages or other labor law compliance
  • Trying to control costs


Many retailers turn to their workforce to manage these costs. At times eroding the capability to perform Retail 101. The good ones will find tasks they can remove from a store, but even in those cases, it is hard to complete the basic tasks that remain. I’ve seen instances in which the business decided to stop cleaning the floors seven days a week. Three was good enough in their eyes. The worst offenders don’t give options they just hold the store to a number.

This is why I love working in this space—and especially with Connors Group. Instead of cutting things to the bone and ultimately ending up closing, let’s, first and foremost, be thoughtful of what the customer expects in their shopping experience. Let’s remove tasks that don’t bring value or help control costs. More importantly, let’s find things that increase revenue.

By partnering with organizations to provide expertise in management consultancy, workforce management solutions, training services and other key areas, Connors Group helps transform the retail experience.

By focusing on and working collaboratively with the people that make stores tick, they help ensure your operations are passing Retail 101 with an A+.