When was the last time you went to a mall for some retail therapy? Be it shopping for grocery, clothes or gadgets, many of us have to make trips several times a week to retail stores.
But, did you know that there are professionals constantly working to make your shopping experience a good one? They want to know if it’s easy for you to find what you are looking for, and how attracted you are to a particular arrangement of perfumes and clothes at a window display. These professionals are retail managers.
“Retail as a profession is all about understanding the human element. Knowing people as shoppers or consumers is the key. There is immense potential as the skill set needed to manage a retail organisation is different when compared to any other marketing job, and professionalism is missing in many areas in India, as of now,” says Dr Mini Mathur, associate professor (marketing), MICA Ahmedabad.
Retail management involves diverse fields like shopper behaviour, buying and merchandising, category management, visual merchandising, customer relationship management and so on.
“It is very essential to learn the principles of retail management to optimise investments in time, effort and money, by the organisation,” says Mathur.
Retail managers play multiple roles, based on their job profiles and the organisations they are working for. One can be a store manager, floor manager, or a category manager, and in the process manage sales, HR, project management, supply chain management and/or customer services, etc for the unit.
According to research conducted by Indian Brand Equity Forum, by 2018, the Indian retail sector is likely to grow at a at a compound annual growth rate of 13% to reach US$ 950 billion.
Very few management institutes in India currently offer degree and diploma courses in retail management.
An MBA degree with a retail specialisation or an advanced diploma in a specialised area, like visual merchandising, supply chain management, or online retailing would work as a good combination.
As the organised retail industry is at a nascent stage, starting salaries are not really lucrative, but the job has potential for immense professional growth. Industry experts put starting salaries at Rs 5 lakh onwards
“The working environment is very challenging, dynamic and enriching. You learn something new every day. So, if that interests you and you can work outside the regular hours, go for it,” says Mathur.
Good interpersonal skills, analytical skills, and a sense of aesthetics are musts for a career in retail.