The retail advantage

Last Updated 21 July 2010, 10:59 IST

Let’s admit it. We shop twice as much as our parents did 15 years ago. We shop so much that it is now even considered therapeutic. Consumer buying behaviour and formats have undergone a sea change with the advent of higher dispensable incomes and an open market. The two factors have transformed the face of retail businesses in India, which began to boom in the 80s. Indian retail is now the fifth most attractive, emerging market in the world. Thanks to its ever-diversifying nature, the industry as come a long way from requiring just accountants and sales persons. Newer portfolios such as Store Operations, Buying and Merchandising, Visual Merchandising, Supply Chain Management, Logistics, Mall   Management, Category Management and Brand Management make it  an attractive course to pursue.

What it’s all about

Retail Management courses provide a wide spectrum of subjects pertaining to buying and selling.

Institutes that offer graduate and postgraduate courses typically cover topics such as supply chain management, marketing information, finance management, accounting in retail, electronic retailing, merchandise management,  marketing and business communication, sales promotions, inventory management, customer relationship, business ethics,  retail brand management, business communication, management and organisational behaviour, quantitative methods in retailing etc.

The industry is constantly expanding its frontiers to include sectors such as IT, finance, etc. This stretches the eligibility criteria for jobs in the industry.

Retail is open to engineering and humanities students. Students from commerce, accounting, humanities and science may apply for a graduate-level course in retail.
Those who possess excellent communication skills and an eye for detail are sure to make a mark in this industry.

Roles & responsibilities

Those who can manage people, space and merchandise will find themselves operating front line stores.

Those with analytical and negotiation skills make ideal merchandisers. Fashion design specialists can join the design and branding department.

Accountants, store planners, visual merchandisers, marketing specialists, HR specialists, and engineers for store setup and maintenance are roles that are available across the industry.

An MBA degree in Retail Management allows students to specialise in one aspect of Retail Management.

 The sought-after areas in retail among youngsters are Store Operations and Brand Management.


A postgraduate in Retail Management with a year’s work experience qualifies for an mid-level job at a monthly salary of Rs 20,000-40,000.

Those joining directly after graduation without work experience get to take home Rs 8,000-12,000 a month. Store managers with 2-5 years of experience earn Rs 40,000- 1,00,000.

“The only constant in retail is change. Every day brings new customers with new needs to cater to,” says Rajendra Prasad Nadella, Director, Indian Retail School.

Growth trajectory

Retail is an ever-growing, ever-changing industry. This puts growth on the fast track. “The industry is human-capital intensive and students need to possess skills such as team work, leadership and ability to work in a demanding environment,” says Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India.

If you can convert a window shopper into a buyer, consider yourself fit for the industry.
“A customer’s buying behaviour almost never matches his appearance, accent or clothes. So never label a customer,” advises Kumar Rajagopal.

Courses & Colleges

Indian Retail School
*Two-year MBA
*One-year Post Graduate Diploma in Retail Management (PGDRM)
*Post Graduate Diploma in Visual Merchandising and Store Design (PGDVM) for graduates.

After Class 12, you can opt for a dual certification of BBA+ GPRBS (Graduate Programme in Retail Business Studies).

Professionals with retail experience can take up a three-month professional programme in Store Operations, Buying & Merchandising, Luxury retailing etc.

Retailers Association of India (RAI):
*Offers a three-year BBA in retail.
*Workshops on ‘Efficient Store Operations’ for store managers

Birla Institute of Management Technology
*Postgraduate two-year, full-time programme in Retail Management

Tips for store  floor managers

*Ensure that no sales associate speaks or giggles and passes comments even if there is only one customer in the store.

*Ensure that the sales associate does not pounce on customers while they enter the store or badger them in the name of customer service.

* Ensure that everyone wears a genuine smile that welcomes the customer and makes him/her comfortable in the store.

*Ensure that silence is maintained especially in a book store.

* Be aware of who is doing what at all times.

*Handle shoplifters in a manner that does not disturb the other customers.

*Focus must be on store loyalty by customers and they should be your brand ambassadors. They should be your repeat customers.

*Keep moving around the store and watch for loose and open packets of merchandise.

*Ensure that every sales associate knows that they can and should look to you for guidance on any problems that come up and that you are there to ensure  the smooth functioning of the store/floor. You must be informed if any sales person is leaving the floor for any reason. If you are leaving the floor, appoint someone to take over.

*Review the schedule regularly. Change it if necessary. Lunch and break times must be adhered to unless you make a change.

*There are two kinds of people who enter a store a) Shoppers  b) Buying customers. Converting shoppers into buying customers becomes a simple task when the sales floor leader is in total control.

T K Rajiv 

(Published 21 July 2010, 10:59 IST)

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