Jobs in the Fashion Retail Industry

Ruby Arnone

THE ROLE OF A RETAIL STORE MANAGER

A Retail Store Manager is someone who oversees a store and makes sure everything is how it should be. They supervise retail stores meaning they are responsible for making sure that the staff are up to the stores standards and that they consistently meet what is expected of them when it comes to outstanding customer care. A retail store manager is someone within a team of employees but motivates and is in charge of the other members of staff. A successful store manager is someone who takes on each of their responsibilities and strives to achieve any of the companies targets and goals.


To be a Retail Store Manager it requires having a number of various responsibilities which include:

  • Recruiting and training new staff.
  • Being in control and in charge of a team.
  • Making decisions which are efficient and beneficial to the store.
  • Consistently recording sale figures which allows the store to see which products are most popular.
  • Dealing with customer and/or staff conflict and complaints.
  • Being aware of different, current and future fashion trends.
  • Attending and holding important meetings.
  • Dealing with sales.
  • Managing the financial side of things.
  • Promoting the Retail outlet.


Managing a Retail Store is not something that is considered to be easy; and the skills a person needs rather depends on on where they work. To succeed at this job a person needs to have a number of key skills:


Enthusiasm plays a big part in this role as it shows interest and this attitude encourages colleagues and reflects onto them. Every work place can become very stressful, especially in retail during particular seasons such as Christmas where sales are high so it is important that the Retail store manager continues to motivate their colleagues to still work at high standards. If someone looks enthusiastic they also look more approachable which is very important as in stores customers constantly have enquires.


Likewise teamwork is very important, retail stores can get very busy and stressful meaning it is important to be able to work in a group with good verbal communication skills. There will be times in retail when colleagues need to go out of their way to help another member of staff thats why teamwork is important. This means that building relationships with colleagues is also important as it avoids conflict in the work place and makes working together a lot easier and less hassle.


Being a Retail Store Manager means the person has to be very flexible and have good decision making skills. Every day new obstacles may be thrown at the person who is the Retail store manager and as manager they must take on these challenges and find the correct solutions as it is important that decisions made are the right ones for the retail store. Retail Store Managers will have to deal with the pressure because quite often in this industry there is misunderstandings and not everything goes to plan, so the retail store manager is essentially a problem solver. The person must be punctual.


it is very important that the Retail Store Manager has the ability to persuade people and have outstanding customer service kills, the reason the need to outstanding customer service skills and not just good or excellent is because they are manager they are setting an example for their colleagues that they have recruited. They need to have 'the gift of the gab' when it comes to persuading people as they are trying to sell the companies products. A manager will be dealing with customers instore constantly throughout the day, it is essential that the manager knows how to be professional when it comes to regarding customers when they have problems or cause any conflict.


Not only are soft skills needed but if someone wishes to be a Retail Store Manager they require good IT skills and mathematics skills. They need good mathematical skills as like i said previously in responsibilities they consistently record and look at different sales figures. They need IT skills as they may possibly be required to use computers with different spread sheets and databases and they need to use these skills and teach new employees when they are being trained to work within the retail store.


Most importantly to succeed at this role the person has to be CONFIDENT and have strong leadership skills. The need to be able to keep staff motivated in the work environment, and be able to deal with any problems or any possible conflicts that may occur. The staff may rely on the Managers opinion so the manager must know what they are talking about. It is important that the Retail Store manager is liked by the team they manage.


Working hours:


Obviously like all jobs, the hours required to work will depend on where the person works and if their job is part time or full time. The hours are often between 37- 40 per week if working full time, in some cases the Retail Store Manager might be required to work more than 40 hours per week which shows why the person for this job must be fully flexible and devoted to their job. These hours include working on weekends from when the store opens in the mornings to when it shuts in the evening.


Salary:


Salary again depends on a number of different factors, these include experience, where you are employed and how many hours worked. If someone is a Retail Store Manager for a small independent retail business then they would get paid less as it is less complex and the job requires less responsibilities, so it all depends on which establishment they manage. Without experience the average salary amount is 20,000-30,000. In the diagram below it shows that the average annual income figure for full-time workers is £27017.

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THE ROLE OF A VISUAL MERCHANDISER

Visual Merchandisers are also known as 'Window Dressers' who create eye-catching product displays and use their creativity skills to promote the stores image and attract potential customers. A Visual Merchandiser is in charge of putting the stores 'look' across to customers, the idea is that the shop layout appeals to the target audience of that particular retail store. They are enhancing the stores image.


To be a Visual Merchandiser it requires having a lot of different responsibilities:


  • Constantly researching different fashion trends and cultures to keep up to date with whats in and what's out.
  • Creating design plans in meetings of different displays until the perfect one is finalised, not just the window displays but displays around the store.
  • Following company design plans.
  • Maintaining the given budget which would vary depending on the retail store you work for.
  • Motivating the team to complete the current task before the given deadline.
  • Not only putting up but taking down the store displays.
  • Meeting with head office, sales managers and retail managers to talk about sales strategies, being able to discuss what might work what won't work.
  • Being able to take constructive criticism from other members of the team as it might be beneficial.
  • Deciding how to use space appropriately and the correct lighting.


Visual Merchandising requires people who have the specific skills to fit the job role which help them succeed at creating eye-catching displays, these include:


An eye for attention to detail is very important, as everything that is on display plays apart in the finishing look which attracts customers. Everything has to be exactly in place for the look of the store window to be complete. In some circumstances a plan to follow is given to a VM from the area manager in Head office, in these cases attention to detail is crucial as they have to do exactly what the plan shows.


Being creative and having an interest in different colours and styles is important as each trend will be different and being aware of the future trends is crucial when it comes Visual Merchandising as plans for the store have be made months, sometimes years in advance. Being creative is important as it means the store displays will unique and stand out from competitor retail outlets.


As seasons change, so does fashion, Christmas is a very busy time for any fashion outlet, meaning it can be very busy and very stressful so the character for this role must be calm, collective and organised. Although they transform shop displays when the store is shut they still work in store during the day which means they have to be able to deal with pressure as working in store in busy periods can be quite stressful and chaotic.


A Visual Merchandiser must be able to work in a team, it is essential that they listen and are open to new ideas which might be beneficial to the finishing product of the shop layout. Putting together a shop display can also be dangerous so being aware of their surroundings and staff is important to avoid injuries in the working environment as safety is important. The visual merchandiser has to be aware that putting the displays together isn't always easy, mannequins can be heavy, theres a lot of spending time on your feet and climbing ladders.


Hours:

If working full-time the hours are roughly 37-40 weekly, these hours are particularly in the evenings after the store closes and sometimes night shifts, so that the displays can be created before the store opens for the next day. A whole display usually has to be put together in one shift so that when the store opens the next morning the shop window has been transformed.


Salary:


The amount a visual merchandiser is paid depends on where they work, if it is a small independent business the person working this role is likely to get paid less. Salary also depends on experience, a visual merchandising manger will get paid more as they have worked their way up to be in charge and oversee the who process of creating the eye-catching store displays. Essentially a visual merchandising manager gets paid more as they have more complex responsibilities, their salary annually could average between 25,000-55,000 depending on which establishment they manage. However for a beginner visual merchandiser salaries can begin at 12,000-16,000 per year.

Visual Merchandising and Display

THE ROLE OF A FASHION MARKETER AND PR

Fashion Marketing and Press Relations are becoming increasingly similar as time goes on, the relationship of marketing and PR is called Marcomms which is someone who does both. Marketing needs PR and PR needs marketing. The difference is marketing is directed at the consumer and PR is directed at the media; however the use of social media is vital in both roles.


What is a PR?


"Monitors the company's public image and applies corrective measures if the company is acquiring a bad reputation. Organises events and activities that will put the company in a good light, and tries to ensure the company behaves responsibly towards its wider publics."


Being a PR is all about reputation. As a PR whatever you do or say reflects the brand you are representing.


To have a job in Fashion PR comes a number of different responsibilities:


  • Dealing with the public.
  • Have close relations to editors, stylists, journalists and bloggers. These relationships are essential as these people write reviews, as a PR you want the brand you are working for to be featured in magazines with only good things to say about it.
  • Planning and attending events such as catwalks and parties.
  • Dressing celebrities.
  • Developing and maintaining a positive image.
  • Deal with media relations, such as, press calls and crisis management.
  • Sending out press samples.
  • Handling complaints in the press.


Skills that are needed to be a successful PR:


A successful PR must be able to deal with criticism effectively and act upon it rapidly so the brands image isn't put at risk. What people say about you, reflects on the brand, and if bad things are being put in magazines or on social media, hundreds and thousands of people can see. This would have a negative effect on the company.


A good PR would have to be persistent as they are constantly trying to get new good contacts to help promote their brand. As well as being persistent, this means patience and having a brilliant act of persuasion. Without being persuasive any relationships with editors,stylists,editors or bloggers might fall through.


Good communication skills are a must when it comes to having a job in public relations as a PR is constantly involves interacting with editors, stylists etc. Good communication skills are important as when dealing with criticism the PR needs to know what to say and how to say it to keep up a positive brand reputation.


Working well under pressure and being able to meet deadlines are two essential key skills, as the role of a PR is not considered to be an easy job. There is always pressure when dealing with press calls, event management and crisis management.


What is the difference between Agency and In-house roles?


Working in an agency you will work over numerous brands, because they are handling with different companies, they will come across a wider range of new ideas, and this could mean more opportunities as they are promoting a wider range of businesses. Senior companies are more likely to take advice from a PR agency because they are paying for it. Working in PR agencies also teaches less experienced PR's how to pitch, which is important as PR is all about promoting and persuading. Working within an a agency also means you are not alone and are surrounded by other excellent people at their job. Agencies have a broader knowledge of the industry.


However, working within an agency means constantly seeking clients approval they can't just go ahead with someone, so its harder to make things happen and a longer process. It can also be quite expensive to obtain a PR agencies service as they are independent. Similarly PR agencies sometimes charge by time, and if a PR is unable to fix an issue effectively this could mean things become quite costly.


Working in-house is effective as you are focussing all of your attention onto one brand, so this gives the opportunity to become a true brand expect as you are putting all of your time and research into one brand. Working in-house means you develop a better relationship with editors, stylists and senior management, you have the opportunity to talk to other internal departments.


On the other hand, being an in-house PR means you will have less contacts in the media which can effect the in-house PR when trying to make relationships with the public. Also there is a lack of innovation and creativity because you are using all of your own resources.


What is a Marketer?


"Marketing is the management process which identifies, anticipates, and supplies customer requirements efficiently and profitably" (UK Chartered Institute of Marketing)


Marketing is discovering what consumers want and making customers want to buy something; something they didn't realise they wanted/needed. They make a product stand out in the media, essentially they are raising awareness of a brand and generating sales. Instagram has enabled marketers to know what the public want. When doing my researched i looked at two very interesting Instagram accounts:


  1. @manrepeller
  2. @susiebubble


To have a job in Fashion marketing comes a number of different responsibilities:



  • Making sure products are getting noticed in the right places such as adverts, billboards, magazines etc.
  • Market research is a big aspect of the role, if research is not carried out the product might not hit the right target market.
  • Need to understand how customers think and behave when making purchasing decisions.
  • Promoting a postive image to customers and consumers.
  • Encouraging new customers to buy their products.
  • Make people aware of the brand and what it is.
  • Be commercially aware.



Certain key skills are needed to be successful at this role:


A marketer has to be enthusiastic, this is a very important skill to have as they are promoting a product. A marketer has to be confident in their product because if they aren't how is the consumer supposed to be confident that what they're buying is what they actually want/need.


A marketer is constantly working out market strategies which promote the brand/product so the person for this role must have good time management and essentially be on the ball the whole time and consistently be aware of demands.


This job role involves a lot of communicating, the person for this role must be sociable and a confident speaker when it comes to interacting. The fact that the job involves communication skills it means that these skills should also reflect when working in a team which sometimes is a big part of being a marketer.


A marketer also needs to have IT skills and be confident with numbers as they work closely with social media accounts and may have to work with different data bases or spreadsheets.


Marketing job titles and descriptions:


  • Brand Manager
  • Social Media Marketer
  • Sales Manager
  • Salesperson
  • Advertising manager
  • Public relations manager
  • Market research manager


What is a social media marketer?


A social media marketing manager is someone who looks closely at social media accounts which are promoting brands and makes sure they stay up to date with current sales and trends and stay brand focussed. They are in charge of making sure that these accounts are causing sales and that the consumers like what they see and want to purchase what is being advertised. They have to think of new ideas to promote a brand and they promote audience interaction.


The person for this role must have good communication skills, technology skills, enthusiasm, strong customer service skills, be able to work in a team etc.

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ROLE OF A SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGER

A supply chain is the process of a product being created from the very start to when the material is purchased at the end. A lot happens to a product before it is seen in a retail store, different fabrics are purchased by a particular retail company and then suppliers give it to manufactures where clothes are ironed and put in packages ready for the next stage which is the products being distributed which may be by vans, shipped or flown to the retail store destination ready to be sold to a customer. The supply chain is also referred as the logistics network. The supply chain is something which will evolve over time as customer demand is increasing which means more pressure is put on manufactures and suppliers to produces better quality goods and at a quicker pace.


A supply chain manager is someone who oversees the whole supply chain process to ensure the whole thing is running smoothly. They coordinate and control the movement of materials from the first stage to the last stage where the product reaches the retail store and is purchased by a customer. A Supply Chain manager takes into consideration that every link on the supply chain process has an impact on cost and plays a part in making the product which meets customer expectations.


The responsibilities that come with this job are:


  • Recruiting and training staff.
  • Track suppliers and find out where the good are using a computer software.
  • Researching ways to improve the supply chain.
  • Making sure retail outlets receive their materials on time and in perfect condition.
  • Ensuring stores have the right stock.
  • Motivate staff.
  • day-to-day decisions such as scheduling, routing, etc.


Certain skills are required to succeed at the role:


The person for this job needs to be very organised as it is a very complex process to oversee and be in charge of. They need to be excellent at time keeping and being able to handle being under pressure because it isn't considered as being an easy job.


An entry requirement for this job is a degree in geography, for this job the person must have good geographical knowledge as the different parts of the supply chain are located all over the world. Different computer software's are used so the person for this role must be confident in using computers and different software's, basic IT skills.


An important skill is to be a confident speaker and have good communication skills. In this job role there is a lot of communicating and interacting with people, so social skills are essential.


Hours:

Being a supply chain manager is a 24 hour job as it is a different time everywhere over the world and the different links on the supply chain are located over the world. Most of these links work through the night also.


Salary:


In this particular role salary begins at 20,000 and more experienced candidates can earn up to 40,000 per year

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EVALUATION

I already had a brief understanding of what each job entailed, but it wasn't until i carried out research on the different job roles that i came to the understanding they all have complex parts to them. To find out my information i used a number of different resources which included, websites, books and youtube videos. I watched a video on the H&M website of a VM being interviewed about what it is truly like to undertake this job, i found it particularly helpful as it came from the mans personal point of view and he discussed the harder things about being a VM which i thought not all of the websites covered. Not every website i used was helpful, that it why i decided to use books but i thought using both would be more efficient as sometimes information in books can be out of date when usually websites are updated regularly. I avoided using Wikipedia as i think it is unreliable as anyone can access the information and change it, however certain websites such as National Careers Service and Target Jobs provided plenty of useful information to help deepen my understanding of the different roles in the fashion retail industry. I also looked at various news reports on the different jobs as i thought it would give me the most up to date information on these jobs and any debates about them.


I found looking at the responsibilities of each one really interesting as some of them surprised me. I didn't realise how many responsibilities each job role had and how flexible the person for each job has to be. After doing my research on these different roles i came to the conclusion that the person for each of these jobs really has to prioritise their job and be consistently focused as there is always something to do. I learnt so much when researching this task, i enjoyed looking into Fashion PR and Marketing and highlighting the differences between the two roles. At first i found PR and marketing the most challenging, it wasn't until i started to look at the two roles as separate roles rather than one that i started to gather the correct and the right information. I didn't realise how challenging visual merchandising is. The hours being over night shifts and the stamina a VM needs surprised me. They need to be dedicated to their job role as it involves a lot of climbing ladders, carrying life-size mannequins, drilling and being on their feet the whole time. After i gathered that information was when i realised the person for the role of a VM must be driven and motivated because it is a difficult and time consuming job.


The last role i researched was a Supply Chain Manager, i found this very challenging as it took me a while to even understand what the job itself was. When using the internet i thought that the websites provided weren't as useful as when i researched the other roles. I decided that i should turn to using different resources, so i used a book called 'designing and managing supply chain.' In some ways i thought it was useful as it taught me different definitions to words that had come up in my previous research that i didn't understand and it gave me an in depth description of what a Supply Chain manager really is. However, i also though it was quite a dull book and i am quite a visual learner so in that perspective it didn't help me as much as i thought it was going to. When researching this role it surprised me that it is essentially a 24 hour job. This isn't a job that personally interests me as i found it most confusing and not really interesting.


If i was to do this task again i certainly would use more books as i found that information the most useful but feel as if i didn't use them enough throughout this project. Another thing i would do to improve is use primary evidence, for example, take my own photos or go into stores and interview the staff for example the Retail store Manager so i can ask questions and really make my work on the different roles as detailed and informative as possible. Id also consider including more videos into my work as like me, some people are more of a visual learner so it would be a benefit for them also some videos can also be quite helpful and informative.


The job role that interests me the most is the role of a visual merchandiser as i am quite creative and think it would be the job that would suit my determined and driven personality the most.

Bibliography

Careers at H&M - https://www.career.hm.com/content/hmcareer/en_il/what-can-you-do-here/sales/visual-merchandiser.html


Elevation networks - http://www.elevationnetworks.org/hints-tips-if-you-want-to-work-in-fashion-pr/


Four Seasons Recruitment - http://www.fsrl.co.uk/marketing-pr-jobs


National Career service -https://www.nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/advice/planning/jobprofiles/Pages/retailmanager.aspx


Picture 1, Tophsop in Westfield - https://www.pinterest.com/pin/18929260909616204/


Picture 2, River Island in Westfield - http://brickit.biz/projects/river-island


Picture 3, Victoria's Secret in Westfield - http://www.thestylerawr.com/2012/08/victorias-secret-comes-to-uk.html


Picture 4, Selfridges store window in London - http://www.homesandproperty.co.uk/home-garden/interiors/design-news/our-design-london-the-windowdressers-31819.html


Picture 5, Zara in Westfield - https://easydoesitstyle.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/on-display-holiday-windows/


Picture 6, Dior at Harrods - https://easydoesitstyle.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/on-display-holiday-windows/


Picture 7, Screenshot of IG page (@manrepeller) - https://www.instagram.com/manrepeller/?hl=en


Picture 8, Screenshot of IG page (@susiebubble) - https://www.instagram.com/susiebubble/?hl=en


Picture 9, Zara supply chain diagram - http://www.slideshare.net/chspravin/supply-chain-management-of-zara-28247084


PR Couture - http://www.prcouture.com/2010/04/fashion-101-so-what-do-fashion-publicists-do/


Prospects - https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/visual-merchandiser


Search Manufacturing - http://searchmanufacturingerp.techtarget.com/definition/supply-chain-management


Target Jobs - https://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/job-descriptions/278851-retail-manager-job-description


The guardian - https://www.theguardian.com/careers/fashion-pr-careers


Word skills - https://www.worldskills.org/what/career/skills-explained/creative-arts-and-fashion/visual-merchandising/


Blythe. J (2005) 'Essentials of Marketing' p. 2,10, 11,12


Hill.M (2003) 'Designing and managing the supply chain' p. 1-3


Video 1, Visual Merchandising - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvVwSZ1vaV4