There are so many secrets to success in retail, such as good products, well-organised showrooms and effective pricing strategies.

The High Street has taken a battering in recent years, with internet shopping accounting for 87% of purchases, according to E-Commerce News. That means retailers are having to be as smart as ever to stay one step ahead of the competition.

One aspect of retail which the internet cannot offer is people. Making a purchase from a store is not just about making a transaction; it is an experience with another person, and an opportunity to talk about the product beyond a handful of recommendations at the bottom of a page. The real key to good retail is good people.


But how do you cultivate good people? How can you, as a retail manager, effectively motivate and educate your staff to give you an edge over competitors as well as the spectre of the internet? We’ve got a few handy tips to help you strive to become a good retail manager.


The likelihood is you’ll have sales targets to achieve in your store, but they’re not the only goals you should be setting your staff. Whilst a collective team strives to hit certain targets, incentivising your staff individually can help drive them forward in terms of performance.

‘How to Set Goals’ by The Wall Street Journal offers advice on how to set targets for staff that are achievable, but they don’t necessarily need to be sales driven. Timekeeping, product knowledge and peer support can all be goal-driven and help to keep staff motivated.

Team Morale

Motivation leads to effective performance and there is no better way to keep your staff together than team building. A post on ‘Fun Team Building Activities’ published by Comeet explains how these exercises can help improve the relationship between employees but it must be done right; clumsy exercises that force introverts into the open can lead to a decrease in morale.

Nights out are another good way to foster good relations, if there are no personal tensions ahead of such an event. Even a five-minute game before the store opens can help as well. If your team aren’t the sort to play games, make sure you take time before or after a busy day to debrief and maybe have a coffee and share a joke, to help people feel needed and included.

Take the Lead

You are the leader and there is no better way to become a good retail manager than to do exactly that; lead your staff. Our article on ‘Does Transformational Leadership Have a Place in Every Sector?’ explains how a good leader will inspire their employees to be the best they can be.

This can be achieved in several ways, but certainly leading by example is one. Never be afraid to get your hands dirty with merchandising or stacking shelves, interjecting with a difficult customer or relieving your staff during busy times. If they see you care and are passionate that will often prompt them to strive to be better as well.


Most of all, communicate. This is the single-most-important factor in motivating a team. Speak to them about their day, about products and about themselves. Doesn’t just be the manager, be a friend too. A functioning retail outlet should feel positive to anyone who walks in and that’s achieved by promoting an image of a group of friends working together above all else.

You can facilitate that by being a constant presence, coaching and advising throughout the working day.