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The art of shop keeping - managing a successful retail store

Updated on January 18, 2015

A 'back to basics' guide to store management.

It will help you think about how you can give your customers a reason to return and how you can make your shop their first stop on a shopping trip. It touches on product pricing, store environment, atmosphere, best selling lines and store standards.

"You walk into a retail store, if there's a sense of entertainment and excitement and electricity, you wanna be there."

— Howard Schultz


Be as nice to your staff as you are to your customers front and back stage. Have a well equiped tea room, offer perks, embrace flexibility and recognise good work. Happy staff create a good, well functioning shopping environment.

"To be a bricks and mortar retailer and survive on the high street you've got to be good - we looked at ourselves and said maybe we need to update. We're not ignoring discount or value, but customers expect more otherwise they have no emotional attachment."

— Steve Jebson, Superdrug Commercial Director


Review the physical environment of your store - does it need upkeep or a refresh? Is the temperature and lighting appropriate?

"Businesses often forget about the culture, and ultimately, they suffer for it because you can't deliver good service from unhappy employees."

— - Tony Hsieh, Founder of


Are you prices competive yet profitable? Are customers going else where for products? Weigh up the pros and cons of carrying slow selling lines that tie up money.

"If you buy a good watch you will always be satisfied, and at our prices a good watch will influence the sale of another good watch; and that’s our motto: "Make a Watch Sell a Watch."

— - Richard W. Sears, Co-Founder of Sears Roebuck

Product Promotions

Have you good promotions to keep the customer interested and encourage multiple purchases? Are promotions clearly and accurately supported with graphics? 'Eye level is buy level' are your promotions correctly positioned?

Floor Walk

Do a floor walk regularly starting outside the shop. Look with fresh eyes and see what the customer sees. Refocus on cleaning. Have your store gleaming and attractive. Make your shop a desirable place to be. Have you drawn up a cleaning rota? Do your staff take pride in and ownership of the store?

Best Sellers

Most importantly - know what they are! Prioritise their replenishment. Look at your sales report weekly and label bestsellers with numbers/back tags on shop floor. Create a wall back stage where you can hang one of each of your best sellers. Ensure your staff know how they can use this information - it should influence product recommendations and the position of stock when merchandising.

"Consumers presented with six choices on an item were twice as likely to buy as consumers overwhelmed with 24 varieties of the same item."

— Sheena Iyengar

Aim to Please

If you don't have an item in store, can you order it for your customer? Train your staff to take the customer's telephone number. Build a loyal customer base. Let your staff know when deliveries are due and ensure that orders are followed up.

"The need for social interaction is very much a part of why women shop. At some point that social interaction was part of the shopping experience. trips and malls provide many opportunities for reliable, safe and interesting social connections."

— Stella Minahan, Michael Beverland


If you have multiple stores - move stock to where it's selling.

Cash Drivers

Know what your most profitable lines are - let your staff know about them. Encourage them to chase add on sales. Can you create a link save offer on these lines to drive volume and further increase your buying power?

Great books about retail

Retail Business Kit For Dummies
Retail Business Kit For Dummies

How to run a retail store.

Fundamentals of Management
Fundamentals of Management

An overview of effective Management.

Retail Analytics: The Secret Weapon
Retail Analytics: The Secret Weapon

How to turn retail data into useful information to understand your business and help boost sales.

Retail Management: A Strategic Approach (12th Edition)
Retail Management: A Strategic Approach (12th Edition)

An easy to read textbook on retail management strategies and techniques.


Books to help you understand how your customer thinks and interacts with stores.

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