The Ever-Evolving Roles In Retail

Challenge Your Team With These 4 Functions

Image: arybickii / Adobe Stock

No period in retail has exemplified workplace change more than the past five years. 

Retail establishments now have more ways to connect with customers, serve their needs and deliver goods and services than ever before. 

Along with this shift comes the need to examine and incorporate new roles, responsibilities and even job titles to engage fully in the new retail landscape.

For those retailers who do not fully accept and engage with this evolution, it puts their business at risk of falling behind the competition — and I’m not talking about the other gun shop or range across town; I’m referring to other retailers in general. 

The key here is to create an ecosystem within your business that gives consumers no excuse to do business elsewhere.

A recent survey conducted by Propel Software shows 54–57% of consumers today are very willing to brand hop if they do not get the experience they expect.1 This underscores that stores have to meet customer expectations. Because of this, we need to challenge our employees in new and revolutionary ways. Here are a few.

1. Membership Coordinator Customer Engagement Manager

When 65% of a business’s annual revenue comes from repeat customers it should be clear customer engagement is paramount to profits.2 Therefore, a customer engagement manager is a must-have.

Think of this as the evolution of the membership coordinator. Historically, range operations were dependent on membership revenues to keep a firing range’s profits healthy. This often entailed the membership coordinator signing up new members while also engaging with current members to keep their memberships active. 

Through the years this tactic has shown membership coordinators to be one of the highest ROI (return on investment) employees a range can employ. 

For those of you reading this who do not operate a range, “Why would I need a customer engagement manager?” might be on your mind. It becomes obvious when you assume every customer who engages in a business, be it a range or retail, as a member. There are near limitless channels to communicate and connect with your customers, and it has gotten to the point where you need a person dedicated to this task, be it a range or retail-only facility.

Social media, emails, SMS text messages, events, influencer partnerships and brand ambassadors are all things stores need to manage to maximize their opportunities to succeed today. 

Let me rephrase: customers expect us to engage with them in these ways; it’s not an option!

2. Buyer Inventory Manager

In a past article — “It’s Time To Evolve” ( — I mentioned how important it is for the role of “buyer” to evolve into a more encompassing role of “inventory manager.”

With the ever-changing dynamics of consumer demand for products, the thinning of margins and the multitude of places consumers can purchase products, the need for the role of inventory manager has arrived. 

Modern point-of-sale systems (POS), auto-replenishment systems and big data providers (GearFire’s RetailBI and NASGW’s SCOPE, just to name a couple) offer an opportunity for businesses to make smarter, faster and more profitable inventory decisions.

The key here is to give an employee the time and opportunity to handle these tasks on a full-time basis. Without it, you’ll be in a constant state of playing catch-up while trying to stay on the trend.

3. “Abstract” Merchandising Manager “Actual” Merchandising Manager

What is a merchandising manager, you ask? 

Merchandising refers to how you promote your products, price them and any special deals available — as well as how you present and display the products or services in your store. The idea is to use these aspects and other techniques to influence a customer’s buying decisions. 

This job title is nothing new but, historically, it was thought of as something only for big-box retail (e.g., clothing stores). To compete in today’s landscape, however, we need to employ as many tactics as possible to convince the customer to buy from us before they leave the store. 

Key tasks would include but are not limited to price comparison research to make sure your shop has market-relevant pricing on the goods and services you provide, managing and deploying merchandise displays in your store to maximize upselling opportunities, as well as tasks as simple as making sure the store looks well stocked and presentable. 

Depending on the size of your shop, this may be a full-time or part-time role. But make no mistake: if these tasks are not part of your day-to-day operations, you are leaving revenue on the table. There are even companies you can hire to get these tasks completed on a “shared resource” basis. Just search “Retail Merchandising Shared Services” on your favorite search engine and explore.

4. Web Manager “Do-All” E-Commerce/Logistics Specialist

With the massive shift in how people buy, propelled by the pandemic, the time for small businesses to employ a dedicated e-commerce/logistics specialist is in full force.

Today’s market requires you to conduct business online — if you’re not, you’ll be nearly invisible to your customer base. Let me make it clear, though: an e-commerce specialist isn’t spending their day taking pictures and writing descriptions of the five used firearms you purchased over the weekend. 

Their roles and responsibilities should extend well beyond simple auction posting. Instead, their day will be consumed with responsibilities such as managing your Buy Online Pickup In-Store (BOPIS) customers; returns and exchanges; confirming products sold online are shipping out in a timely manner; making sure your website is up to date with current inventory; negotiating with customers for trade-in/used firearms from all over the country; managing your online pricing to meet market conditions; and potentially even fulfilling orders to customers from brands you’ve partnered with. 

At a time when the economy is making it more and more challenging to land the volume of sales you need to be profitable, an e-commerce/logistics specialist can be the best way to cast a wider net, engage with a broader customer base and close new sales.

The key here is to dedicate time and effort to this facet of your business. In the world of e-commerce, unlike baseball, the “build it and they will come” concept doesn’t work.

A Worthwhile Endeavor

It can truly be overwhelming — both intellectually as well as financially — to think about all the roles and tasks not getting their due attention in your day-to-day operation. However, time has shown these roles can make an impact beyond their expense in driving your business (and bottom line) into areas of success you never would have expected. 

Start small and engage with one role at a time, evolve how you do business and make your shop the best it can be!

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